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There is little job sharing

There is little job sharing

“Carol, please take a seat” said Steve indicating the chair opposite him.

Steve knew todays discussion was going to be a long difficult one. With that in mind he had ordered in coffee for both Carol and himself. Smoothing out a wrinkle in his suit Steve took his seat.

“Carol, Jeff has Geneva Transportation ready to close. Can your team handle the increase in volume?”

Tapping her pen on her cup Carol considers her answer. “Steve, it will be hard but it may be possible. Geneva are in a shipping lane we have little volume though. We are going to have to skill up on the customs documentation requirements. There are a few tricky parts to work through. I’ll have to pull Sally off her other duties…”

“Hold on Carol” said Steve “Last month you told me that your efficiencies where up. So, you should have more capacity now. Are you telling me that’s not true?

“No, no.” Replied Carol. “Our efficiencies in the Air Export team are up. The Ocean Import team has temps helping to ensure we clear customs on time after we had the run of missed cut offs. Efficiencies are down there.”

“If I can get some more skilled specialists in there I could get the efficiencies up, but right now we are battling just to clear the port on time.”

“Have you spoken to Rob about getting another specialist?”

“Yes, but Rob keeps telling me there is no margin for it. So, I have to resort to on the job training and, well, that’s tough as everyone is just so busy.”

Standing up Steve takes a long drink of his coffee. “That’s what I thought. I had hoped otherwise. Bother…”

“Carol, we really need a definite yes for Geneva Transportation. The volumes will go a long way to stabilise our overall profitability. What about job sharing? Can you get some of the Air Export team to cross skill?”

“Seriously Steve, you’re testing me aren’t you?” If I pull anyone from the Air Export team, then they will fail. We are already tight. I don’t have spare capacity for Job Sharing. I would love to but we don’t have it. That’s why the temps are here now.”

“Carol, we must have capacity somewhere. Have a look and see if you can find it. It cannot be that everyone is busy all the time. Sure Monday, following the weekend, is our busiest day. But we don’t have an even spread of volumes coming in every day across the teams. There must be capacity out there. We need this client!”

“Work your magic Carol, I’m sorry, but we must make this possible”

Knowing Steve, is right about needing Geneva, Carol mentally struggles with how she might deliver it. Feeling fatigued already Carol nods to Steve and prepares to leave

“One moment Carol” Steve says indicating for her to stop. “I know I am asking a lot of you. But you’ve proven you are someone her can perform miracles. Let me know if you need me to throw some weight around for you and please get back to me with some good news.”

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The recurring nature of this issue is a symptom of a deeper issue

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The forwarder's dilemma

Analysis of the Overloaded staff issue

Carol is having pressure applied to her to relentlessly improve operational performance, yet she is not able to hire people to do this due to the declining cash flow of the business. This pressure means that Carol must use existing staff and that means taking staff from one team and cross training them to work in another team i.e. from her Air import team to her Ocean Import team.

The problem for Carol in that by moving staff she will reduce the very efficiencies she is being asked to increase because of having to assign less skilled people to off load her skilled people. The less skilled people are simply slower at the same task and more likely to make errors. Cross training is desirable but cross training when overloaded is almost impossible.

Ideally Carol would use her team’s downtime between surges to cross train. This solution would balance out some of the highs and lows in load between teams. The obstacle for her is that being short on resources means Carol is under significant pressure to have her most skilled people, her specialists, assigned the tasks so that more gets done in the short time frames available.

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