My last post was on the importance of middle management. It can be found here:
There is another aspect of middle managers administration that is important, and that is change. I want to address two separate issues here, process change and transportation carrier change.
Process change means a change in the way your organize and do your business. Typically it is result of some consultant’s study. Some consultants never bother to talk to the middle managers, because they are not person paying the bill and the consultants do not want to bother to deal with hostile audience to the changes they propose. Additionally even when they are queried about the business, a good understanding on why do our doing the things they are doing to operate the business does not occur. This leads to dysfunctional change processes and some case active sabotage of the process by out of the loop middle managers.
Let’s imagine an example of this. Let us suppose the business is going to switch to electronic dispatching through a TMS (Transportation Management System) rather than make a phone calls to dispatch the loads. The electronic system would certainly reduce manual processes, store more useful data, and more often find the lowest cost carrier than a manual process uses. It appears to be a big win for management. However, if you talk to the middle managers you will learn that the phone calls are more than just dispatching. The middle managers are getting carrier operational information and useful customer information. Losing that information will cause the new process to sub-optimize, and may cause the middle managers to ignore the new system as much as possible. A well done change program will find ways to incorporate the missing information in the system. It might simply be done with a weekly conference call with the carrier and way for the system to reflect that information. The key is for the change to be successfully implemented it needs middle management buy in and must address the issues they face.
Let’s discuss changing transportation carriers. One thing usually missed in most supply chain texts and articles, is the relationship nature of the business, between vendors, in this case, carriers and the middle managers. A carrier will know when to bring a truck into the plant for least delay in loading. It will know from experience about customer requirements, for example, how clean the trailer needs to be delivery to a particular customer. Is it any wonder that a middle manager would not want the complication of a change of carriers?
So part of the process of change in choosing carriers should be to have the new carrier represents talk to the middle managers before a change is implemented so this information can be decimated. Indeed, there should be a company procedure in changing transportation carriers.
Including middle managers in process and carrier change is critical to any successful change. Change processes must include them.