Manufacturers are faced with a number of challenges, including driving revenue growth, improving compliance and streamlining operations. A recent study by the Aberdeen Group draws a link between talent management processes and the overall success of meeting these everyday challenges. Food Manufacturing spoke with Jayson Saba of the Aberdeen Group, about these findings and what they mean for manufacturers.
Q: What were the most important results from the study in your opinion?
A: The study, which assessed the employee performance management practices of 65 leading manufacturers, found that Best-In-Class manufacturing organizations that have a strong focus on talent management are better able to address compliance, create time and cost savings and drive productivity through stronger employee engagement.
Q: How can strong talent management have a positive effect on manufacturers?
A: Talent management systems offer a powerful tool to help manufacturers tackle a wide range of business issues including safety, compliance and quality. In a climate where manufacturers are under pressure to get more out of existing resources, talent management offers a proven and practical way for them to gain a competitive edge and proactively address shifting business demands.
Q: How does goal management influence corporate performance?
A: The report demonstrates an interesting link between corporate performance and goal management: The overwhelming majority of the highest performing manufacturers include goal alignment as a cornerstone of their talent management strategy. 85 percent indicated that they tie in goals with performance. What differentiated the Best-In-Class is their ability to link those goals to the organization, clearly articulate to the employee how their goals impact the organization and involve the line business leaders and managers in driving execution. In fact, companies that were able to implement these were 63 percent more likely to achieve Best-In-Class results.
Q: What key challenges are manufacturers facing today that can be addressed through talent and goal management?
A: Manufacturing organizations are faced with a number of challenges: They must drive revenue growth, improve compliance and streamline operations, while balancing a limited resource supply and aging workforce. The use of automated solutions, such as those from Halogen Software, enable manufacturers to eliminate redundant, inefficient tasks and empowers managers, employees and HR to focus on performance on a day-to-day basis. The end result includes both administrative gains made through easier compliance reporting and less time spent on the process of employee appraisals, as well as an impact on the organization at a strategic level. For example, employees become more connected to their work thereby improving quality and productivity, HR has critical data points for succession planning to prepare for the future and managers can identify areas for process improvement.
Q: How can goal management motivate employees?
A: Goal management is an extremely powerful tool for manufacturing organizations, and it is vital to maximizing productivity. Providing employees with clear, well-defined goals related to key areas such as safety, productivity, on-time delivery and other areas, enables the organization to position the employee as a partner in overall success. With a clear picture of how their work contributes to overall goals and being accountable for their performance, employees at all levels become more connected to the work they are doing, which drives employee engagement and increases productivity. For example, the manufacturer noted in the Aberdeen report — CFS — uses Halogen’s solutions for its talent management processes and is a good case study in reaping the benefits of organizational goal alignment.
A big part of this process is shifting the culture to make performance an ongoing conversation between managers and employees, and not just a once-a-year event. Goals need to be constantly discussed, measured and tracked. Putting development and engagement at the forefront helps the organization to improve retention while creating a more agile workforce than can rapidly respond to business needs.
Q: The manufacturing industry faces an aging workforce, and looming retirements are an important issue. How can performance management help with this?
A: Manufacturing organizations are 39 percent more likely than their counterparts to feel the effects of an aging workforce, and performance management provides a tangible way to address this business issue. These organizations are concerned about the loss of skills, expertise and knowledge that will depart with retiring workers. In order to prepare they need to identify and build talent pools of high potentials and high performers for succession planning initiatives.
When fully integrated with development and succession planning capabilities, automated performance management solutions can help organizations to gather the information required to identify candidates for talent pool membership, open up the dialogue between managers and employees around career objectives, and deliver employees with development activities to prepare them for future roles that the organization needs to fill. At the end of the day, effective employee performance management processes enable manufacturers to identify their top-performers and build a competency framework (skills, behaviors, and cognitive abilities) for each role. My advice is to keep that framework simple; 6 to 9 competencies are adequate enough to define any role and its corresponding success profile.
A copy of the study can be accessed on the Halogen Software website http://www.halogensoftware.com/resources/white-papers/employee_performance_management.php.
Interview by Lindsey Coblentz, Associate Editor