While some car companies were initially hesitant to invest in electric technology, ongoing supply chain issues and increased demand have sparked a sense of urgency to establish efficient processes on the electric vehicle (EV) front. Consumer demand has tripled in the last two years, thanks to federal tax credits, record-high gas prices and evolving climate concerns and regulations.
Other industries are similarly navigating demand and supply chain issues when it comes to seeking sustainable alternatives to power sources. Energy and utility companies are especially concerned about balancing business needs. Leaders who are battling demands and shifting priorities could benefit from some tips on effectively navigating today’s marketplace.
Shifting Mindsets and Behaviors
Although waiting months for an EV was once part of the exclusive allure, consumers are no longer willing to wait so long. Most automotive companies are being pushed to find a balance between the ongoing demand for traditional vehicles and the uptick in EV interest. To best meet the opportunity, supply chain leaders who are trying to shift toward providing EV parts must move beyond the impulse to merely ”survive” and embrace the risks needed to “thrive.”
It's crucial for leaders to quell concerns or innovation fatigue over time by celebrating the positive progress each respective team contributes. That means motivating folks to do better in their areas, be it traditional or electric, without dividing the business areas or focusing on one at the expense of the other. To make sufficient progress and speed improvements, supply chain managers need to harness the energy of a broad base of their employees as opposed to one small group.
Creating streamlined processes unencumbered by a strict hierarchy and encouraging strategic innovative mindsets on the ground and behind the scenes in corporate offices will allow people to solve big-picture problems — problems that might otherwise seem to be beyond the scope of their everyday responsibilities. Whether teams are seeking solutions to near-term (“survive”) challenges or longer-term (“thrive”) opportunities, both parts of the organization are necessary for success. By engaging all departments, leaders can better motivate employees to deliver on group-specific goals such as increasing the flow of traditional or EV materials.
Some workforces might be experiencing performance or productivity anxiety in the face of a new, expansive opportunity. Alleviating any sense of panic with intentional, clearly explained approaches can help create a more sustainable, productive environment. In this type of environment, employees understand how they can impact success by working quickly to address things closest to the work. The key is freeing up employees to innovate at the local level. This requires leaders to foster an understanding among employees of how they could participate in the pursuit of more innovative solutions to bring their company — as well as their jobs — into an emerging era of sustainable technology.
Managing an Evolving Workforce
A key risk facing the workforce is complacency. It’s important to keep employees in the existing core businesses equally motivated to finding improvements and delivering excellent results. They should not feel like they are now “less than” new business areas.
Leaders must translate the opportunities in the traditional sectors for their teams and shift that mentality to help employees understand how they are contributing to the larger vision while tapping into new ways to leverage their talents. Employees might not have been prepared to withstand the inflection point of demand and urgency supply chains now face. When leaders shift this sense of urgency from complacency or even panic into an opportunistic, sustainable path forward, they will help maintain motivation and momentum.
Expanding Product Diversity
As long as the U.S. supply chain depends on nonrenewable resources, there will be tension between resources needed and manufacturers’ ability to deliver environmentally friendly products. Macroenvironmental elements such as COVID-19, geopolitical tension and regulatory changes can all exacerbate this tension.
Supply chain leaders must seek opportunities to expand and evolve product diversity, especially related to batteries as consumer demand for EVs expands. By putting strategic plans in place and communicating them throughout the organization, teams could better understand near- and long-term visions and how product diversity plays into it.
Making these changes takes time. But learning to adapt to change over time, highlighting positive steps forward on how each piece of the organization (big or small) contributes, and keeping teams motivated to focus on the new strategy is key to day-to-day progress.
It’s important to curate a culture of innovation with a clear team vision; doing so will keep workers more engaged and productive — and working toward the end goal together. Combining intentional leadership with strategic operational shifts will enable companies to build on opportunities provided by the EV boom.
Kathy Gersch is chief commercial officer with Kotter.
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