When experienced change managers meet resistance to change
The task at hand seemed simple at first: Bring visual management methods and tools to one production site of a large metals manufacturer. The new Manufacturing Director hired AXSENS to present the methodology, train people and implement the visual management processes and tools on-site.
However, when AXSENS senior consultants Laurent and Christophe presented the visual management methodology, they met very strong resistance from employees, senior managers and even the Board of Directors. The Manufacturing Director wanted to move his company into the 21st century, but the rest of the company had to be convinced of the need for change.
Laurent and Christophe were up for the challenge. Strong from 50 years of collective experience in deploying industrial methods, they sat down with the management and explained, starting from very basic concepts, how their company could benefit from this set of proven methods and tools.
“We had to adapt our solution based on the needs of the client. In this case, it wasn’t only about visual management. We had to show the client that change was necessary and beneficial. They are metallurgists, technically very capable people, but they just did not have the basics,” said Laurent. “It takes time, listening skills and empathy to open people to change,” added Christophe. “After taking that time, we gained some allies who supported us.”
Encouraged, they then identified 22 areas of improvement and put together a scorecard consolidating the performance of each manufacturing step. Finally, they proposed a roadmap to transformation, from the ground up.
The employees at the site have since capitalized on the new processes put in place, and they recognize the efficiencies they have gained. “Even the employees who were at first strongly against change, now champion the new methods,” Laurent said. The metals group has retained AXSENS to accompany them in the next steps in their industrial transformation. Laurent and Christophe aim to help the client establish a culture of continuous improvement supported by a site-wide transformation plan and associated performance metrics. It will be challenging, but now that the employees are embracing change, the hardest part is done.