September 15, 2016 | by Bob Weidner

Managing Our Future:

A Key to Separating Winners from Losers

Start with good people… communicate with your employees, motivate them and reward them. If you do all those things effectively, you can't miss.”  —Lee Iacocca

Across the country, as the college and university classes of 2020 are beginning their freshman year, we in the industrial metals industry must realize that these young men and women are our future. It is increasingly clear to me that those of us who understand and adapt creatively to this fresh wave of faces and thinking will thrive in what we can only call a new industrial economy. Those who insist that the old ways are the best ways, remain stuck in a “we’ve always done it this way” philosophy, and manage their workforces accordingly, will sputter and drop by the wayside.

“Start with good people” is not a cliché, but rather a call to action. The parameters of running a successful business in our industry are changing under us. But I can assure you that MSCI is evolving as well, and is committed to providing you with the tools and resources to manage intelligently in this shifting climate.

We hear over and over that millennials are not like the workforce that has gone before. Their motivations, their goals, their expectations for the future are different. And that is surely true. But just as true: Our industry can offer this new generation everything it is looking for in an imaginative, socially responsible, meaningful, and technologically advancing career. Our job, if we are to prosper as I know we can, is to effectively and dramatically tell our story to a generation that can be an invaluable resource but unfortunately may know very little about us.

Demographics are an increasingly relentless force in our industry. As senior staff and the most experienced people retire along with their invaluable institutional knowledge, high impact recruiting and training will be our job one. The alert, agile and aggressive among you already understand this. But we all must be continually re-evaluating and improving the way we reach out to potential employees and then develop the best among them.

We have to be able to clearly and truthfully explain to that young man or woman that if they are looking for important work, essential to the economy, environmentally and technologically advanced, and loaded with opportunity, then industrial metals is the place for them. If they are looking for responsibility, the chance to make a real contribution from the start of their careers, we know we are the place for them.

We offer tools that can help you tell this story. Our inspiring, eight-minute video, Elements in Action, for example can highlight your outreach program. Does your recruiting effort show how technology is changing our industry? Check out our latest proprietary research report Managing the Avalanche of Big Data and Digital Business Analytics.”

Your evolving workforce will put a new face on our industry. Our mission at MSCI is to help you do that. But it requires perceptive effort on your part as well. There are still remnants in our industry that see their employees as commodities and even liabilities, that believe they are “damn lucky to have a job at all.” I guarantee you: that attitude in this new world of young worker candidates will only guarantee failure. Rather, the companies who see their associates as assets, resources for profitable revenue growth, and are investing in these human assets are the firms positioned for success in the years ahead.

The manner in which you recruit and train staff, and nurture those who are most promising, is one of today’s most critical key performance indicators. That is because in today’s uncertain, highly competitive environment, a successful company must have an effectively integrated operation. If you are doing recruiting and training well, you are most likely to have executive development, strategic planning, technology integration, and safety programs that are also excellent.

When I look at these millennials and what they seem to be after in our fast developing working world, I am reassured. I sincerely believe that our best days, as an industry and a country are ahead of us. But we have to stop just talking about changing attitudes and begin implementing the hard-hitting programs that will help transform our businesses. It was Wayne Gretzky who reminded us “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”