To an extent, their reservations are understandable, because even stellar performers rarely welcome the idea of being supervised more closely. However, that doesn't mean these reservations are entirely accurate, because when an LMS is implemented well, it's usually a win-win experience for everyone - including the very personnel it's designed to monitor and measure.
In the spirit of that more positive outlook and outcome, here is a short list of people-friendly practices your company may wish to add to its LMS toolkit.
HR Involvement/Timely Communication
Since an LMS is a system, it's easy to assume that its rollout should involve only IT and engineering professionals. However, bearing in mind that an LMS is designed to improve the performance of human beings rather than technology, it's not only wise to enlist extra help from professionals with "people skills," it's essential.
Give your HR personnel a heads-up as soon as you know an LMS is a possibility, and follow their recommendations closely. In addition, take advantage of their expertise (or that of your internal communications professionals) to help shape the LMS announcements and updates you'll be sharing with your workforce. They'll be much more adept than you at creating messages that will help foster an atmosphere of enthusiasm - and that consider all of the nuances and sensitivities that otherwise might get overlooked.
On a related note, be sure to let your employees know about your LMS plans long before engineers arrive at your facility to begin setting standards (or before they start seeing systems personnel arrive to perform the installation), because the earlier you bring your them into the loop, the less likely they are to view the LMS as cause for concern and the more likely they are to feel like they're an integral part of the team. Nothing creates an "us and them" mentality faster than withholding key information about an initiative that people are eventually going to find out about anyway.
Using It As A Care Tactic, Not A Scare Tactic
Although an LMS can indeed be a highly useful way to pinpoint under-performing shifts or individuals, companies that primarily use it to push, prod and penalize their workforce are largely missing the point of having an LMS in the first place - and depriving themselves of some of its best results.
Avoid using your LMS as a big stick. Instead, use the knowledge you glean to identify personnel who are most in need of coaching, mentoring or additional training - and then provide it.
In the long run, this will enable you to do a far better job of achieving your operation's improved productivity goals. Just as important, it will also enhance motivation, because most people really do want to make the grade and do the best job possible; some just need a little more help figuring out how to do that.
Accentuating The Positive
Every operation has star performers who consistently find a way to shine. Your LMS will usually identify these people just as loudly, clearly and objectively as it identifies those on the bottom of the bell curve - and if you're wise you'll make it a priority to praise these outstanding workers often and publicly as a formal part of your LMS program, whether it's by posting a daily leader board, sending periodic commendations or complimenting them during a shift meeting. Not only will they enjoy the "attaboys" and bragging rights, their recognition will often inspire other employees to give it their best effort in order to earn similar kudos.
The importance of this recommendation cannot be underscored strongly enough, because every ounce of positive recognition and messaging that you build into your LMS process reinforces the fundamental truth that an LMS really is a tool that can be beneficial to everyone, not just those at the top.
One quick caveat: Make sure you leave some room on your brag board for a few other employees, too, because sometimes there are people whose LMS numbers may not reflect the fact that you've entrusted them with more complex tasks or asked them to do something that's above-and-beyond the usual scope of their particular jobs. And clearly, they deserve to be acknowledged, too.
Labor management systems typically deliver savings and operational improvements of anywhere from 5 percent to 15 percent. But too often, the impact of those savings stops at the corporate level and fails to award credit where credit is due.
If you truly want to see the people on the warehouse floor get as pumped up about these potential efficiencies as you are, make sure the buck stops in their pockets too: Create an official gainsharing program.
It may not be something you can kick off right out of the gate, because it can take a while to get an LMS running at an ideal level for each particular facility. (For example, it takes a while to get users trained and up to speed and it can take even longer to figure out which of a system's capabilities are appropriate for a particular operation).
However, if your employees know from day one that their hard work eventually will lead to extra income, most will be much more included to greet your new initiative with applause rather than apprehension.
Source: APL Logistics
Keywords: supply chain management, supply chain jobs, logistics & supply chain, workforce key performance indicators, performance management
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