Durham Economic Prosperity Committee

Talent Management As The Key To Competitive Advantage


Submitted by: Ian Howcroft, Vice President, CME Ontario and
Mona Mitchell, President ACHIEVEBLUE Corporation.

April 24, 2014—The manufacturing sector must invest and provide resources to develop their leaders and managers, enabling them to compete for skills and talent.

Governments around the world are committed to raising productivity to improve on economic performance. MGI research states that “manufacturing companies will need to invest in their organizations. They will also have to fight hard to win the war for talent—everything from experts in big data, to executives with deep understanding of emerging markets, to skilled production workers.” Therefore organizations must continue to be prepared for continued global competition, especially in light of ongoing economic challenges. Canada is falling further down the productivity ladder and this issue must be addressed.

Managers have a part to play in the ability to compete globally and increase productivity. The same study found that since management practices do affect a company’s financial performance they should also impact on sector productivity as well. The research suggests that if the manufacturing sector of any country were to increase its management-performance score by one point it would achieve an 80% increase in its total factor productivity!

The research concluded that there is a strong correlation between the extent to which management practices affect a company’s financial performance and the level of competitive intensity. In other words, good management practices have a more pronounced impact on the bottom line in a competitive environment.

For many years all levels of government, business and other groups in Canada have been advocating the need to develop a ‘learning culture’. While improvement has been made, there is still much to do to attain this laudable goal.

Manufacturers know that anyone can buy new technology and invest in productivity improvement. To date, there has been a great deal of investment in both. But success is built on inspiring confidence and creating and managing the new ideas that will build businesses in today’s changing environments. Successful businesses now require the joint efforts of talented people working together in mutually supportive endeavours.

Today the skills, adaptability and ingenuity that are required throughout the manufacturing workforce means that people are the most important asset of all. Employees are playing a broader, more responsible and more innovative role in manufacturing than ever before. The new dynamic in manufacturing means that there is a critical demand for managers to attract, retain and upgrade the skills of talented people and to organize those people effectively. This enables companies to manage new manufacturing systems successfully and sustain productivity improvement programs, realizing the return on investment for these programs. Our industrial workplaces are adapting to accommodate these new work requirements and the demands of a continually innovation-driven, knowledge-based competitive environment.

It is more important than ever for management to articulate a vision and a strategic direction including a work plan to meet customer requirements and to mobilize the support of employees behind the organizations business objectives. They also need to find ways to increase the success of productivity improvement programs by capitalizing on the creativity of the people they employ. Managers are the key to enabling all of this to happen.

At Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) along with our partner ACHIEVEBLUE Corporation, our goal is to help our members make a difference in their businesses. Today, that’s more important than ever, even as the leadership challenges increase.

CME/ACHIEVEBLUE’s Lead To Succeed program helps leaders meet those challenges head-on. The courses in the program help organizations to:

• Focus their business on a compelling, measurable, strategic vision

• Develop the people management skills of their leaders

• Develop the organizationís business process improvement and innovation skills

• Increase the quality and output of cross-functional and intact teams

• Ensure front-line employees are not only kept informed, but kept inspired and engaged.

For more information on CME, contact Ian Howcroft or visit www.cme-mec.ca.

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