Joan Grace says that increasing management capability in the print industry is imperative if we want to boost productivity, innovation and the future viability of businesses involved in print
Business owners and managers need to recognise the importance of identifying and developing new leaders who can contribute fresh ideas, have a strong understanding of the business plan and strategies, and the enthusiasm to drive the business forward.
We can’t just talk about it. We need to act now.
Earlier this year the Ministry of Economic Development released a report which compared management practices in New Zealand businesses to the world’s best. The project, which included interviews with 152 medium to large manufacturing businesses, was undertaken by a research team from the University of Technology Sydney and is part of a world-wide study led by the London School of Economics and McKinsey & Co.
The findings report that while some of New Zealand’s firms are as good as any in the world, a significant proportion are lagging in this area, especially in their approach to people management. Management practices in New Zealand manufacturing firms rank 10th among the 17 countries that have participated in this research so far.
So why is this issue important? New Zealand ranks lower than it should when it comes to workplace productivity and GDP per capita compared to other OECD countries. This directly links to our population having lower income per capita compared to other developed countries. Skilled managers create an environment where innovation and skill development are central to the business, leading to higher productivity and profits.
There are different methods of increasing the skills and knowledge of leaders in all areas of your business. In Ram Sharam’s book Leaders at all Levels, he identifies what he calls the apprenticeship model, which is similar to the apprenticeship training that production staff undertake in workplaces in the print industry that we are already familiar with. He outlines this as:
• Focus on output: are we getting the leaders we need?
• Required resources: mostly leaders’ attention and energy
• Resources focused on a smaller, high leverage group of leaders
• Defining each leader’s individual talent, skills and traits
• Leaps up several levels of complexity; some horizontal moves
• Emphasis on deliberate practice
• Creating or redesigning jobs tailored to each leader’s developmental needs
• Benefits of using the apprenticeship model include using existing resources to develop leaders in the workplace. Potential leaders are taken under the wing of an experienced manager/leader who has a passion for people and sharing their knowledge and experience.
Individuals are provided with projects in the workplace that extend their capabilities, leading to process and productivity improvements. As the developing leader extends their knowledge and capabilities, they can branch out and step into more complex roles.
Management capability project
The PrintNZ Management Advisory Group is taking the management capability issue seriously. Based on discussions at the most recent MAG meeting, PrintNZ has implemented a management capability project with the intention of taking a leadership role to deliver initiatives that will
help tackle this issue.
The first initiative undertaken as part of this project has been to provide additional support for Print Diploma students.
Two pilot workshops led by industry expert Greg Grace, from Heidelberg Australia, were held in Auckland and Wellington recently. The workshop content included providing Diploma students with personalised training plans to complete the Diploma, study skills, site visits and a focus on building relationships in order to support each other throughout their studies. Feedback from the initial workshops has been overwhelmingly positive, with many attendees saying they now feel more able to plan, research and go on to complete their studies.
In addition, the PrintNZ conference in October will provide an excellent professional development opportunity for leaders at all levels.
Attendees have the opportunity to take away practical skills and knowledge to implement positive change in their workplace.
It is vital that business owners and management take responsibility for how leaders in their workplaces are being developed. Using the apprenticeship model described earlier, sit down and consider the following points:
• Do you currently identify potential leaders, and how do you do this?
• Do you devote time to work with the person to identify strengths, weaknesses and provide feedback?
• What opportunities/projects can this person be given to build their capabilities?
• What long term plan is in place to develop this person into an outstanding leader?
• What long term positions could this person fill with their expanded capabilities and strengths?
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