18B Parkrose Industrial Estate
0 121 555 6569
Well actually I do – who doesn’t like a long weekend! But I don’t like the way an extra day or two in the month away from work has a larger impact on productivity.
For those of us in manufacturing who physically produce or treat a product (we polish stainless steel flat products) our turnover, and ultimately the profit, is produced by our team running production lines and this is dependent on two main things (1) having the order intake to produce and (2) having enough ‘hours in the month’ to do this. Short months – April has nineteen working days this year compared to March which had twenty-two – give us less days to do our job. Now of course we know this, and deal with it several times a year, but there is still a nagging feeling that somehow we, as an Industry, could be managing it better.
Our lead-times have to take into account the 2 day break over Easter, for example, and because it’s an ideal time for people to take a longer break with the family, there is a concentrated period where there is simply less demand.
April 2011 demonstrated that where there is an additional bank holiday hundreds of companies effectively shut up shop for a week as it was cheaper to have a shutdown period rather than pay the team to produce very little.
There are, of course, a variety of ways to manage shift patterns over Bank Holidays but during April and May (and this year probably June as well) there is a pervasive attitude that Bank Holidays mean we don’t need to work as hard. The pressure comes off and the marketplace can slump.So knowing we have less days to produce our turnover do we give up? Are we simply just accepting that we are going to have ‘poor’ or ‘average’ months during this time? And how can we guard against this complacency? And does anyone actually care?
The attitude within an organisation means that if you are pro-actively targeting accounts with your team and looking at critical success factors to minimise industry specific lethargy you can be successful. It is important to be innovative and flexible but equally important to be realistic. If you can produce £1000 per day at optimum capacity then there is no point in giving the team a target of £25,000 for a nineteen day month unless you have the commercial team on side to target that level of sales and the production team able to work an additional 4 days’ worth of hours during overtime. By giving the team targets that cannot be realistically achieved you run the risk of damaging morale which in itself affects production.Sharing the concerns of a ‘short month’ with the team can be incredibly powerful – by sharing these concerns and asking the team for their help you empower them and show how much you value their input. They will have ideas that perhaps you have never thought of and engaging them in the process is an effective tool in the war on complacency.
If your team is pro-active and enthusiastic they transmit this to the customer base and this in turn can give a boost to turnover. With a lot of companies operating in a lean manner amongst continued economic uncertainty it is important to understand that your employees do care – they want to succeed and grow within the business.
So will we make a good profit in April 2012? The answer of course won’t be known till May and even if we don’t there will still be successes to celebrate; new accounts, consumable cost savings, improved lead-times and I look forward to being able to congratulate my team on these. Sometimes the bottom line simply can’t reflect these achievements and it’s important to communicate that their hard work has paid off – after all, what would the bottom line look like if you didn’t have them focused on making a potentially ‘bad month’ a ‘good month’?