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Competence development is the key to successful change management and boosting business processes.

The biggest paradigm shifts start on the human level

Process optimization and digitalization? Great start, but… it’s a start. That solid business case, perfect production flow, and improved productivity are driven by people, their ambitions, and their potential. For every change an organization must go through, the first question to ask is  ‘what all competencies are required to make this change successful?’ It is when you focus on this part of the equation, when next to vertical growth, there’s continuous horizontal exploration  and development for employees too, that change management becomes a steady accelerator. Learning agility and flexibility are key.

Building people’s professional competencies and making the most of your production environment and assembly lines: the magic truly happens beyond the job description. Clever change management, that puts people first and foremost, will make your life easier before any Polestar-of-IoT-esque digitalization strategy does. Yes, really! Etteplan’s SVP for HR Minna Tornikoski explains.

Skills, competencies, and flexibility

Minna: “For a company like ours, that provides technical services, flexibility and learning new skills is more than an expectation; it’s a requirement.. We constantly face the challenge to keep up with the latest developments, new releases, and updates. At Etteplan, change management is very organic. Led by personal development, it is an ongoing part of our HR as well as business practice. Continuous learning remains at the top of our list. Even in the moments when the water is still (although, in our line of work, is it ever really?).

We believe that one of the most powerful ways to future-proof business and manufacturing processes involves continuously helping people in building their professional competencies and by encouraging them to develop  new capabilities. When it comes down to it, they are the ones who will work with new implementations, technologies or process flows. Your organization is ready for the next technology node when your employees are. ”

“Knowing where you want to go, expressing that, and then carving out your route. Change management competency starts with personal development and flexibility for your staff.”

Proactive all-rounders engineer with a difference

“Moving away from siloed thinking when it comes to competency management allows you to utilise your in-house skills better. When employees join different projects, rotate between customers, or move from one technology service area to a different one, we see directly that it’s helping us as a team.

Facilitating this long-term, flexible, and transparent trajectory ensures that people stay, learn, and grow within the organization. We notice this serves our customers, too: every now and then, they get brand-new professionals joining their team, bringing fresh perspectives with different kinds of business logics. Of course, not everybody has to be able to do everything. But by at least enabling these possibilities for both vertical and horizontal exploration, change becomes an ongoing source of excitement and innovation, instead of an imposed and dreaded necessity.

People times process times technology really equals improvement. You cannot shortcut your way towards better manufacturing processes by omitting one of them!”

We want our people to think about their growth holistically, because we know that ossified structures do more harm than good. When people reflect and think ‘hey, what else could I do in this Etteplan environment’, they are motivated, ready, agile, and a lot happier in their jobs.”

Ready for a hands-on example?
Etteplan’s Bram Schreuders and Bas Mathijsen introduce you to change management through the LCIA method. LCIA promises semi-automation in production lines that consists of simple and effective tools to help execute accurate and repetitive actions in a pleasant and intuitive way. This ensures affordable production flexibility and personal development for the operator, who experiences lower thresholds when asked to work on a different station or technique. “Craftmanship remains essential”, explains Bram. “Operators garner heaps of know-how and skill and this won’t disappear. Yes, we automate some actions to ensure steady repetitiveness, better accuracy, and flexibility. But humans are still needed for their intelligence, creative thinking, and power to solve problems with out-of-the-box solutions.”Bas: “When it comes to change, it’s normal to encounter unrest. People feel uncomfortable about losing ‘their’ workstation or responsibilities. With solid change management, though, we show operators that a shift in their work benefits them greatly. You can expand your knowledge, work on your professional skills in different fields, and develop yourself. In that way, LCIA doesn’t only provide a manufacturer with affordable production flexibility, it provides an operator with the same flexibility when it comes to their career path. Which consequently accelerates your change management efforts.”

Keep talking, be vocal

Minna: “An open conversation is an important part of how we do things: a manager’s job on every level is to wake people up to think about growth with change, to encourage them to reflect on their future and support their development.

Personal improvement makes for resilient staffers, excellent craftsmanship, and the-sky-is-the-limit energy. The result? Transparency, a sped-up development cycle and people who know what they're capable of, unafraid of change.”

Tips for successful change management
As manufacturers look to implement improvement or breakthroughs, to take advantage of technology, it is equally important to focus on the people side of change for transformation success. It is vital to recognise from the outset that organizations don’t actually change; they change one person at a time. So how can you, as a manager or CEO, drive new changes successfully? Here are some tips: *1. Make it people centricYes, technology drives change, but it’s the people who accept it, enable it and carry it forward. To make change management a business accelerator, not a bottleneck,  focus on the implications on people first. Having them understand the benefits or development opportunities for them is the way to start.2. Change management is not a one off, it is an ongoing processAdapting to change should be part of your company culture and built into your business dna. Not only does that create more flexible employees with improved skills but also benefits your customers.3. Share your vision. Have one to begin withOffering a clear idea of what you want to achieve as a business helps you and the others understand the ‘why’ behind the change, so everyone is moving in the same direction. The idea doesn’t need to be rigid. If you expect your people to be flexible, so should you.4. Competence development is the key to successful change managementThe blog dives into how personnel development is the key driver for successful change management. Once you have defined the ‘why’, competence development within your organization, in terms of skills, values or behaviors can answer the ‘how’ in accomplishing the goal. When you focus on personal development, growth is individually motivated. Embrace learning and facilitate in-organization movement, both horizontal and vertical. It is also important to connect to the reality on the floor. Make sure that personal development is transparent and accessible.5. Communicate and engageDo everything possible to communicate with all stakeholders. Employees that are engaged with the organization, know their capabilities and development potential. Create a conversation culture. This ensures acceptance, flexibility and agility when change is implemented.6. Communication goes both ways
Effective communications involves sharing as well as listening. The stakeholders that are deeply involved with the areas you want to implement change in, will often have a perspective that you, as management, may not. It may also help you course correct, if needed7. Reevaluate, course correct. Be open to learningNo change management process would be complete without unexpected challenges and surprises. As you lead your organization through one, it is important to recognize these opportunities to learn, and adjust if needed.

*Interview with Minna Tornikoski, SVP for HR, Etteplan group

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