At first blush when I consider what to say about leadership especially now that we have arrived overnight into the futuristic cartoon, some of you older folks may remember as “The Jetson’s” giving us futuristic look at life and business, though flying cars are not common yet they may be. Here we are now with robots vacuuming our homes, in production lines virtual meetings, computers in our phones, at our desks, at home…even talk of digital production equipment operating autonomously.
Robert Schaffer wrote an excellent article “All Management is Change” which shines the light on really what managers do, which is to see or foresee change that needs to occur and yet without triggering the resistance that people have to change. This is a truism that you must understand to continue the relevancy of your business or for that matter yourself.
Leaders must develop and institute processes of change that adapt to current and future needs as the business landscape changes. Sometimes the changes are slow over years other times while some are almost overnight, such as the pandemic. Now we are finding new ways to meet and address our client needs where many of our customers are working remotely. Some of our team may be working remotely and working with staggered in-person shifts to keep production flowing with minimal risks.
Managers are having to revamp from what has worked with conventional management style taught in management schools, Wharton, Harvard, are now turned upside down. We now have internal and external pressures demanding increased services, new technologies, enhanced communications and modified workplaces with remote staff as well as having remote vendors and customers. On-line or virtual meetings with our business partners and staff is the new norm. How we react to all of this becomes “Perception” and as the old saying goes “Perception is Reality”. Managers must begin to manage the 3 perceptions, an equalization of reality between all parties. “Perceptions” to consider: your own – what you think you are presenting; your staff’s –what they think and how they react to you and the current plan; and finally – what your customer thinks of your company and performance. You must change your perspective to each of these perceptions to correcting modify your course and plan to effectively occur change.
To change your perception you must change your perspective, you cannot follow the old rules anymore.
We are now fully engaged with businesses that are changing as fast or faster than we do. I.E. regional offices of large corporations and for that matter many traditional office landscapes are shuttering their physical offices choosing to have their staff work remotely to eliminate expenses such as buildings, rent, utilities, insurance etc. and provide the tools and stipends for home office space. Virtual meetings are the rule of the day being telephone or on-line, travel and face to face are moving to virtual, these are all changes that leaders have to contend with.
Utilization of the principle – Management by Exception even more importantly goes hand in hand with managing change, for it helps you to perceive changes in demands or expectations very quickly. Management by Expectation causes the development of practices and policies that cover the majority of the way your operation performs so that when orders/jobs that enter the system that do not fit the norm you/your team then can take actions that assure consistency in quality and service without creating issues internally.
Leaders must continue to empower staff in conjunction with Management by Exception with support and the tools they need to perform their tasks to smoothly transition to the next department’s tasks. Having decisions controlled and made by the well-trained and engaged staff help to ensure enhanced production and quality. Employees when struggling should be coached through the process but do not do their job for them, allow them the opportunity to grow and develop so their confidence and ability continue to learn and participate.
The biggest mistake leaders make is trying to do things as we have always done them or do them ourselves. We know that most people do not like change, some are fightened of technology or just doing things differently. We need guide them to understand the importance of change to growth, theirs, our business and our customers more importantly to attain their buy-in. Simply put, you cannot be a leader without followers, and you cannot have followers without empathy for them.
Remember that plans have to be flexible, that things change that cause us to react or adjust. Your staff have to understand how important their role is to the process and to actively help attain acheivable goals that are the stepping stones to the overall plan and that they are intregal for success.
John Yerger has been in printing all of his life starting with a family newspaper and Printshop. John has worked in almost every aspect of printing from hot type to cold, letterpress, flexography and offset, sheet-fed and roll-fed. With over 35 years in private sector printing and 13 years of experience in higher education, John has more 28 years of senior management experience specializing in growing and restructuring print operations to maximize profits and revenues.
He has used his experience to consult with other operations to better manage their workflow and make their operations more productive in Texas and Arkansas. Under John’s management, Stephen F. Austin State University earned the 2014 IPMA Print Center of the Year Award. University of Nebraska-Lincoln Printing Services hosted the IPMA Roadshow in 2019. John supervises printing, 3 digital printing centers, promotional products, over 480 MFD’s, and Mail services with a staff of 48. John has increased sales volume and been ranked in the top 10 higher education in-plants in the last four years increasing revenue for 3 of his 4 years at UNL, creating a self-sustaining operation.