Andel and Handling: Turning Challenges into Opportunities

MH&L's salary survey respondents have more than money on their mind. Let's address what's keeping them up at night.

MH&L's salary survey respondents have more than money on their mind. Let's address what's keeping them up at night. People who take pleasure from other people's pain are sick. So I must be careful in what I'm about to say, because in the wrong context, I might resemble my last remark. Anyway, here goes:

I take great satisfaction from the results of MH&L's 2013 Salary Survey—not because our readers are enjoying pay increases and gold-plated health insurance, but because the concerns they identified for us are great learning opportunities and well addressed by the rest of the editorial in this issue.  I won't steal any of Dave Blanchard's thunder by analyzing on this page the compensation situation, but here's a sampling of what some of our survey respondents said were their biggest challenges, followed by opportunities identified by some of this month's contributors and what you can take away from them:

The Challenge: "Competition from China."The Opportunity: "Some manufacturing is and will continue to return to developed economies in the U.S., Europe and Asia, but on the whole these countries cannot and will not reabsorb low-value-add, dirty, low-margin manufacturing at scale. This will remain the domain of China and other emerging countries for the foreseeable future."—Michael Zakkour, Tompkins International, from "Why Keep China in your Chain?"The Point: Rather than submit to being a victim of market forces, focus on what you can change. The leaders in today's companies need ideas from their logistics troops on the front lines. Find ways to eliminate or streamline low-value-add functions and redeploy freed-up labor to where they'll make a real difference. The Challenge: "Finding and keeping intelligent and motivated young people."The Opportunity: "We've long heard the phrase: people are hired for skill, but fired for attitude. … Those who seek information [from job candidates] on traditional criteria—like technical skills and work experience—will easily miss 50% of what actually determines success in an employee."—Riley Harvill, president of The HarBeck Company, from "What's Your Problem with Hiring?"The Point: Someone's job fit is more a matter of who that person is than what that person knows. Hire someone with the right personality traits for the job, train them to a technical level where they can succeed and then be open to their on-the-job insights and you will have the person you've been looking for.  The Challenge: "Our customer base has changed and in the automotive world it is tough to get ahead of what they will do." The Opportunity: "We have a strategic sourcing review board that decides where we'll source—what we'll make, what we'll buy, what we'll source to our own divisions and what we'll put out on contract to the supply chain. We get that locked down and then execute agreements with key suppliers. The key for visibility is making sure they understand the demand and in our case the significant industrial ramps that will be necessary over the next three or four years."—Dave Brantner, vice president of sourcing and contracts for Pratt & Whitney, from "See-Through Supply Chains."The Point: Supply chain visibility is a mix of knowing everyone's strengths upstream and downstream and putting in place the people and technologies to address any remaining weaknesses while intelligently anticipating the unknown forces of demand.If you can do all that, they're not paying you enough.

Follow me on Twitter @TomAndel.

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