Whether (energy) transition, (digital) revolution, (managerial) mutation, or (industrial) transformation… Change is all people talk about in factories these days. But successful change in a company is often a real challenge. While evolutions are necessary to bolster competitiveness and enhance a factory’s energy performance, it is not always easy to change whenever the working methods in use have demonstrated their efficiency over many years. Based on our experience, we share some clues to help you connect the functionalities of our solution with your daily business life, and therefore succeed your transformation.
In a factory, change must be mainstreamed into everyone’s daily job: How to go about it?
The agents of change are primarily the operational staff. Because they know their job well, they are used to the operation of their machines, to the settings that have proven to be quality-efficient and prevent variances between outcomes.
Up to now, issues of energy efficiency were not taken into consideration. Yet today, operators are told that their processes and their jobs need to adapt to become less “energy-intensive”. Although not lacking in willingness, for them it means departing from a model that works well, from a comfort zone where malfunctions are rare.
If they are to be persuaded, it is crucial to explain in depth the reasons why the change is needed and how it can be achieved: i.e. the Why and the How.
The Line Manager’s and the Supervisor’s role is to explain to the operational staff why and how they need to change – failing which success would be impossible!
Role of the Line Manager: Explain the “Why” for the changes needed in everyone’s daily job, engage the teams, and translate the change into value added for the company and its stakeholders.
The change strategy must first and foremost be well managed internally to avoid any rejection. Managers need to take ownership of the transformation and must be convinced of its usefulness. By showing their solidarity with the decisions taken, they will be able to find ways to respond to any reluctance.
The Blu.e analytical tools provide support to this purpose, by demonstrating that the change constitutes a step of genuine progress for the company, and by identifying potential sources of savings and productivity gains in the factory.
Communication is then indispensable, based on this information. The key here is for the Manager to translate the change into added value and to provide operators with explanations on the “How” as related to their daily tasks.
For instance: “Shutting down the machine each weekend, instead of leaving it on stand-by, can save thousands of euros. For the company, these savings are a way to be more competitive.” Clear, pragmatic and efficient!
The Manager must be actively involved to dialogue, listen, reassure, convince and engage their staff members. He/she checks on the Dashboard that changes are duly implemented: “Are machines shut down for the weekend?” If not, the Manager will take advantage of the next team meeting to explain and re-explain.
Five steps for the Manager to follow these rules:
1. Take ownership of the change
2. Translate the change into added value
3. Communicate with operators about the reasons for the change
4. Check that the change is properly implemented
5. If not, explain and re-explain – sometimes, repeat every single day if needed, until the change is fully accepted by everyone and taken on board
Role of the Supervisor: Measure the impacts of the change on everyone’s daily job, reassure, explain, demonstrate, support, congratulate the efforts…
The Supervisor’s role is essential. He or she is the field person in charge, the person who is familiar with industrial processes, with the requirements, constraints and jobs. The Supervisor knows that the change is meaningful, and provides support to the operational staff in their daily activities.
When showing operators how to transform their work, the Supervisor also reassures them: whether a task is eliminated, or a new task added, or whether they are just asked to modify an existing task, none of it will diminish in any way the quality of the work achieved or of the goods produced – quite the opposite.
Change is conducive to the acquisition of new skills, to energy and time savings, and to gains in efficiency.
This is what the Supervisor explains to operators:
1. Measure the impacts of the change on jobs
2. How the change is materialized: eliminate, add or modify a task
3. Demonstrate that their work still has as much value as before
4. Explain the benefits for the factory: cost savings and competitiveness gains – to this purpose, the Supervisor uses monitoring charts, with progress curves and other visual indicators
5. Show perseverance and teaching skills to ensure that the change is properly implemented, without forgetting to thank everyone for their efforts
Thus, the keys to a successful change are clearly in the hands of the Line Manager and the Supervisor. But the Blu.e team is also very much present to ensure success over the long run. We support and train the agents of change, we provide them with customized tools, built jointly. We don’t give up until we all get it right! For us, it is not just about delivering tools; we endeavour to make sure that these tools are used, and used properly, along with measuring the value created. This is a guarantee that the change will be successful.
Read about our definition of “change” in this article: “Leading change in industrial energy efficiency”
About the author
Guy Wallerand is deputy director at Blu.e, specialised in company change management. His method is based on employee engagement in change projects.