So you have been trying to get your foot in the door with a new product, but your prospect is happy with what they are using. So you meet with the sales manager and you convince him that your product will add features and benefits to the overall product offering that he is marketing.

Now you seem to be getting somewhere.

If one thing is certain, it’s that sales people always like to have an edge over their competition. Nobody likes to sell strictly on price. So if the sales manager thinks that your component adds value to his product line – value that he can sell – then he may be willing to go to bat for you and ask his GM or the president of the company to consider buying it. So once this is accomplished, you have your foot in the door. But at this point, you are far from golden. There is one more person, or should I say group of people, that you must next convince – the people on the production floor.

Perhaps more than anyone in the company, it is the people on the production floor who resist change the most. After all, they are in the business of repetition. They are also in the business of efficiency. They are responsible for getting products out the door on a daily basis – on time and put together correctly. Doing something and handling something the same way over and over again every day for over 250 days or more per year and knowing everything there is to know about this component has a value to them. It makes their job easier. They are operating with a known entity. In some cases, they are actually building muscle memory as they use the incumbent components and materials.

Putting a new material, component or machine in their hands that works or applies differently is extremely hard to adapt to if they have been using the incumbent machine, material or component day in and day out for a number of years. Can you imagine if someone brought you a new bicycle that drove twice as fast and had a much smoother ride but you were told that instead of pedaling forward, you now had to pedal in reverse? Just think how difficult it would be to retrain your brain in this instance. Not all manufacturing changes are this difficult, but you get the picture.

Whether or not that incumbent material or known entity is the best component for their window is not their concern. It should be, since if their company sells more windows or better windows and becomes more profitable, they will be better off in the long run because they are part of an organization that is prospering and one that is moving past the competition. But then again, if no one is telling them about this, then they really are not expected to gain this knowledge through sheer intuition. The change must be explained to them, and the benefits that this change will bring to the overall organization must be explained to them. The importance of their role in bringing about this change by implementing new and improved manufacturing procedures must also be explained to them up front and in a positive manner. More importantly, their input and feedback must be sought and their ideas considered before a final implementation plan is put into place. They must be an integral part of the process of change as opposed to the recipient of unexpected and misunderstood change.

Manufacturing organizations that have a profit-sharing plan in place have a much greater chance of managing change and implementing change in a much smoother fashion. If all employees are affected by the impact that the change has upon the profit structure of the organization, then they will come to embrace change instead of resisting it.

After all, by participating in the implementation of the new procedures, all employees will also share in the positive outcome when they see their bonus or profit-sharing checks at the end of the year.

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