Setting up, running and ultimately succeeding within the Manufacturing industry in Ghana can be a daunting task. From competitors, to infrastructural issues, there are difficulties that can impede progress. These difficulties present themselves as deep inefficiencies, higher costs, employee attrition and other unwanted effects that wound your company’s bottom line. Inefficiencies should not be tolerated, and should be aggressively solved whenever they are encountered.
In our engagements within the manufacturing industry in Ghana , we have come across certain patterns and strategies that can help companies achieve a step-function improvement in terms of growth. These strategies have been used by the most savvy manufacturing firms, spanning multiple sectors and market categories to achieve cost-efficiency, operational efficiency, and profitable growth.
In this article we will unpack the following strategies:
Switching your perspective on HR as a cost centre to HR as a profit centre
There is a commonly held misconception. This misconception views the HR function as a function that only incurs costs as opposed to generating higher quality profits. One of the first things we focus on at CarvinClay, throughout all of our engagements, is working with the necessary stakeholders to change this perspective. We realise that most companies have a severely under-optimized HR function that when revitalised, the HR function could lead to improved profits and business success. However, it is one thing to write about how companies should view HR; it’s a different task altogether to actually execute successfully on it; especially as a manufacturing company within Ghana.
All companies that have manufacturing as a key component of their value-creation and value-delivery activities have some sort of supply-chain processes to contend with. These processes require end-to-end visibility across complex layers of the organisation; from sourcing the raw inputs, to vendor management and logistics considerations – managing processes can get complicated. It is a generally held principle that a company that is scaling will run into growing pains because the successful processes that were built at a previous stage of its development no longer work as the company grows. Some processes break; which can lead to bloated costs, lagging lead times and failures in employee productivity. These are disastrous outcomes. To some, these outcomes are an inevitable consequence of success and growth; and are seen as a cost that can only be endured, and not prevented. At CarvinClay, we fervently disagree with that. We believe that a strong HR function is the key to building and implementing processes that can help a company succeed.
The HR function should be seen as a profit centre. It is a business function that can build processes for managing and optimising the most important components of your manufacturing business; the people. Whether skilled mechanical operators or less-skilled factory workers, strong HR processes are key for being able to onboard, grow, and ultimately make these employees more productive. More productive employees who feel enabled and empowered to do great work within your organisation can make a big difference in increasing the profit margins of your business.
Employee empowerment models for optimal business success
Building employee empowerment models is important within our current operating environment. Human effort manifests at multiple stages in the supply chain across a broad swathe of different products; from agricultural products like cocoa to fast-moving-consumer-goods products like single-serve soaps or lotions. Within this operating environment, leverage and processing power comes from how fast your respective employees are moving through their production processes especially in the earlier parts of your supply chain. Having more engaged employees who are empowered to do their work and share some recommendations for improvements are key for building a competitive advantage for your manufacturing business. These employees are willing to work harder, smarter and faster to see your organisation succeed because of their strong affinity for your organisation.
Some people may think that employee engagement and empowerment models do not work within the manufacturing industry due to it being a margin-driven and cost-efficient industry. That is another premise that CarvinClay disagrees with. When used correctly, these models can build loyalty within your organisation. Successful employee engagement and empowerment models have been deployed at companies across a wide variety of industries. In Japan, the and on cord was a concept that was introduced in Japanese manufacturing companies that followed the Toyota production system. It was composed of a pull cord that workers on the production line could activate (or pull) to stop the production line and notify management of a bad issue. This helped the production line prevent the production of bad units. This probably saved billions of dollars in preventing costly recalls of faulty cars. The cord principle serves as a powerful example of how empowering employees to take responsibility and ownership can lead to improved business success.
To start this process of building these programs within your organisation, you should start thinking through existing bottlenecks within your business. Bottlenecks where there are high inefficiencies. Once you have identified all of these bottlenecks and put them down on a list; start brainstorming ways you can empower your existing employees to take ownership of this problem and also come up with novel solutions. Doing this aggressively and experimenting on a week-by-week basis can lead to improved business success over a period of time; which will make your manufacturing business more competent.
Building strong incentives into your organisation to boost employee productivity
Once you are in the business of dealing with organisations; you start to truly appreciate the power of incentives. Every employee within an organisation is operating based on a set of incentives that have been defined by their immediate bosses and superiors. Once you realise how incentives influence the behaviours of your employees; your outlook on the power of strong incentives on building durable businesses will change forever. As stated in the second strategy, the manufacturing industry in Ghana has a large human effort component; therefore improving the productivity of every individual employee has a large benefit that will have a large payoff. Here are some steps to ideate how to build better incentives to help your employees increase their productivity gains:
Using these aforementioned strategies should give your manufacturing business the competitive edge it needs to not just thrive, but also survive during these unprecedented times.