Focused On Change

Posted on Mar 1, 2011 :: Up Front
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

CHANGE ISN’T EASY. BUT DONE the right way, it can improve business and create more satisfied employees. That’s what Schneider National realized after going through a set of changes that led to more regional control over shorter hauls.

“It all comes down to communication and how you’re sharing what’s being changed,” says Schneider Human Resource Director Mary Burich. “We engaged our associates throughout the process and their input helped us go farther and become better than we thought we could be.”

Schneider’s efforts also attracted the attention of New North, Inc., which named Schneider – along with Holy Family Memorial in Manitowoc – as the winner of its Workplace Excellence Award, which is co-sponsored by Right Management. The award not only recognizes what area businesses are doing, it also seeks to share their success stories so other organizations can learn.

“Schneider managed the change process very well,” says Al Hartman, a University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh business professor and a contest judge. “Schneider showed us data that showed the changes they made led to improvements in revenue, loads, efficiency and associate satisfaction.”
That the company was able to make so many changes with positive results in a challenging economy is a credit to Schneider’s leadership, Hartman adds.

“Schneider was listening to its associates who said they wanted shorter routes and customers who preferred a regional approach rather than a central approach with everything coming out of Green Bay,” he says. “They took the best ideas out there from customers and associates to implement the change.”

Burich agrees listening to company associates – who number about 3,000 throughout the New North – was essential for the Green Bay provider of transportation and logistics services. As part of the change, Schneider created regional markets, which meant some associates had their job duties changed.

“We utilized communication and a phased-in approach so we could build on previous success. Associates were engaged and knew what was going on,” she says. “It was important for us to recognize success stories. Change happens all the time in businesses. How you manage that change says a lot about your organization and your success.”

It’s essential employers reinforce the positives when change happens and reinforce the new behaviors and processes, Burich says. “Change happens all the time. In HR, we use a steady methodology to help associates transition through the change.”