Supply Chain Enabled

Your most important investment

Published: August 14, 2022
Author: Lorcan Sheehan

You won’t hear us saying this often, but there is more to life than supply chain.    

Supply chain teams have been on a virtual war footing since before the start of the pandemic.  The normal rules of supply chain have been cast aside as demands change and channels have shifted. 

Markets have opened and closed with covid restrictions, global transportation has been disrupted, and the war in Ukraine has impacted supply lines and had knock-on impacts on fuel costs and food supplies. 

We face another holiday season with projected disruptions, potential energy rationing, industrial actions, and further labour shortages.  From a supply chain perspective, it will once again be all hands on deck.  

We count on our teams even more in these unstructured environments to act in the best interests of the company, to make decisions on imperfect information, to have the courage to point out potential and actual failures and to retrieve success when all the normal rules have changed.  

Outside the office, these people have also been dealing with their worlds being turned upside down.   They have lost loved ones.  They are dealing with illness, relationships, housing insecurity, childcare, energy costs and general price inflation.   All of this is done within the context of new remote and hybrid working environments, and in many instances, team members have yet to meet all their new colleagues.

If we are honest with ourselves, I expect that we have all struggled with some aspects of the changes over the last two years and we can expect our teams to have faced similar struggles.  This is an area where we speak from experience rather than expertise.   It is important to check in with our team members and recognise the real-life challenges that they face, and where possible make accommodations and provide support within the work environment.

  • Do we provide opportunities for team members to engage and talk to colleagues and managers about life outside of work? To seek support and help where required?
  • Do we promote an environment where it is encouraged to ask for help?  To admit that you do not know what to do next?  To highlight problems without fear of retribution?
  • Do we do enough to draw the distinction between working hard and being able to put the work away at the end of the day to enjoy life?
  • Do we ensure that the stresses and pressures of the challenges in supply chain do not translate to personal stress for our teams?

Our supply chains are run by people working with people.  There are no algorithms for mental health, and this might serve as a timely reminder to check in on the human capital within our greatest supply chain asset.

Long-term success requires our supply chain leaders to show their own humanity and empathy and understanding to create a positive environment for our teams to succeed.

We won’t claim to have this one fully solved ourselves, but we are open to discussing, sharing and learning from our colleagues, our suppliers and our customers on how we can all improve.

Good health to you all for the coming season.

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