There are many times when I evaluate a small business or logistics operation that I see people who are misplaced at work. Not that they are lost, but that they are put in a position that renders them useless or a hazard to themselves or the operation as a whole. This applies not only to the labor at the lowest level; it also applies to people throughout the ranks of management. This does not mean that they are bad employees, or that they should be fired. Just that they were put into the wrong position from the start. It makes operations less efficient and increases costs by having tasks take longer to accomplish. It also could have a negative impact on quality.
At one of my previous posts in operations supervision, I was forced to deal first hand with a business manager that was guilty of producing a situation of the type that I describe in the above paragraph. The supervision team under him, that I was a part of, was put together in a fashion that lead to team infighting. Beyond that, the regular union labor staff was able to observe this and exploit it when they sensed weakness. The failure to properly delegate to a supervisor tasks based on their strength led to divisiveness. Often times we would say… “Why am I doing this…Aren’t these employees in someone else’s group?” When leadership at the top goes down this unfortunate path; efficiency, quality, and cost go out the window. Lower supervisors are forced to manage on the fly more than necessary as well; this is because in a situation like this, good planning is worthless when it is not adhered to from the top.
Another often observed problem is seeing labor run the hen house. There is a reason there is always 1 rooster. Unfortunately, due to a lack of proper management this is a more common problem most would expect. Too often we see people who are trying to be ‘the nice guy’, these nice guy managers often have a vision but do not do what is necessary to enforce rules which are integral to the realization of their vision. Luckily, for someone experiences like myself, this is an easily detectable and fixable problem. Upon fixing this, you will see how labor costs can be controlled, and how much easier it becomes to realize your vision. If you want to see the impact of labor acting in its own best interest instead of the good of the company, their employers, I encourage readers to check the costs of labor for any 2 similar companies when 1 has a union labor force and one does not. I am not saying all unions are bad, but it is the opinion of this author that some are past their time, and some have no place getting the labor wage and benefit deals that they do.
A second example of people being in the wrong places exists within the halls and the walls of congress. I will reference just one of the many examples of this that exist within congress. Lamar Smith, a congressional representative from Texas is Chairman of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee (http://lamarsmith.house.gov/biography/). Would the committee be better served if headed by a person with education in science, space, and technology. This representative, like many has a degree in law, with an undergrad in American studies. He did once work for the Christian Science Monitor, but as a financial writer. I am not criticizing Rep. Smith or his politics, there is no place for that on this blog. What I am saying is that this occurs this all throughout the US Congress. I find it welcoming to see Rep. Paul Ryan talking budgets as economics was a large component of his education.
Managing any operation, we must always be mindful to have people in the right place. While it is true that sometimes we can see someone excel in a tough situation out of their element, in the long run using the same repeated practice would be detrimental to the operation; just like playing a catcher in centerfield. Most would argue that businesses and other operations would be best served if led by people with relevant education in the field. We provide these services to our clients because we know that it is important to leave every customer satisfied the first time. Having the right people in the right place is a great first step to ensuring that happens every time.