Customer Service is more than just about things; things such as omni-channel, data, warehouse choices and which transportation carrier to use. Supply Chain and Logistics is very people and organization centric. One can know all about the bells and whistles of the supply chain, but if you are not aware of the people and organizations in it, success will be elusive. University and colleges do a good job of teaching about the things of logistics but many times ignore studying the people and organizations which populate that universe, leaving students not fully prepared for the “real” world.
What information should be imparted to students preparing for a supply chain/logistics career? Let me suggest these topics: budgeting, employees, change management, organizational cat fighting and intern programs.
Budgeting: Students are taught the CEO version of budgeting, the 30,000 foot view of the organization, the global view. Rarely is it also explained how budgeting affects employee actions in the middle and bottom rugs. Plant Managers, Sales people, marketers, production planners, plant workers and you name it to be success must meet or beat the budget directed assigned to them. Working with people, a key to know is or at least guess at what organizational budget issues and directives affects their actions and decision making.
Employees: No matter what an organization thinks and treats its employees, working with people one should view them as an asset, capable of contributing to both to their own organization and possibly to yours. It is too easy to think when employees do not do things the way you want that they are lazy and dumb (stronger words are usually substituted for dumb). But these same people, when they are listened to and respected, will many times share valuable institutional knowledge. More often than not the project your working on will not be a success if that institutional knowledge is not factored in. Learning to value others is not something that come naturally and needs to be taught.
Change Management: Usually thought about only about in connection with the group of people assigned to make the changes, the concept needs to be enlarged to include all the employees affected by the change. Communication and listening are key issues. If no focus is done on change management at the ground level, employees will ignore the project or in some actively work against the project at hand.
Corporate Cat fighting : One of the most difficult issues in change management is the resistance to change among people. It is a natural impulse. This resistance sometimes results in making the persons leading change look bad. It is important at that time to dig out that cell phone saved file about being confident. Resist the urge to get in a corporate cat fight and find ways to work with these people. There is a long term here and the friction generated can be turned in many ways to help future collaboration on change. By listening with your ears and your mind, real issues which would have eventually come to a head anyway may be headed off early in the process.
In developing intern programs, corporations would be wise to structure them so that come in contact with employees to accomplish some minor task. Just filling out reports, while necessary, limits the value of these programs as ways to develop employees.
Ultimately by gaining these skills you greatly improve the productivity of yourself, which why these skills are important to learn.