In O&F, Focus on People, Not Systems
Operations and fulfillment “is about people, not systems,” began Bruce Breckbill, vice president of sales for Lehman’s, a Kidron, Ohio-based cataloger of non-electric appliances and household goods, during a session at last week’s National Conference on Operations & Fulfillment in Schauburg, Ill. “Think of it this way: Good people can overcome and modify bad systems sometimes, but good systems with bad people [are] crap.”
Breckbill’s presentation focused on four critical areas for O&F managers:
* getting the right people,
* understanding employees,
* making them feel valued and,
* fostering self-awareness.
1. “Getting the right people should be simple, but of course, it isn’t,” he said. “The key is to hire people that fit a corporate culture, because people tend to be loyal if they fit into a culture.” Testing is important in screening for good fits, but it’s not a perfect process, he said. Companies have to be willing to let go of employees who don’t fit for one reason or another.
2. Understanding your O&F people is critical tomanaging them, Breckbill said. For example, it’s important to know an employee’s strengths and weaknesses, but perhaps not for the reason most people would think: to turn weaknesses into strengths. “That’s very difficult,” he pointed out. “Finding ways to compensate for those weaknesses isn’t as difficult.”
3. Making employees feel valued can be as simple as a “thank you” from a manager, Breckbill said. But in the long run, it’s about seeing people regularly, learning who they are, and treating them with respect. Interacting and listening to employees goes a long way toward making them feel appreciated.
4. Finally, managers need to improve their own self-awareness. “How other people react to you is probably your best learning tool when it come to self-awareness,” Breckbill explained. “Perhaps without realizing it, other people will tell you how you’re doing. Pay attention.”