Description: Global Gold Mining Company with 20+ Mining Assets on 4 continents
Case Location: Western Australia
The client had successfully managed a lucrative open pit operation for many years. However, as with all mines there comes a point when the orebody becomes constrained and no longer suitable to mine profitably using the same methodology.
Whilst changing from open pit to an underground operation has its difficulties these were somewhat exasperated by the relevant supporting functions not working cohesively, which impacted information, communication and decision-making. Fortuitously there was also the aspiration to align the company structure to requisite principles and the management systems and processes to be aligned with the same framework.
Our consultants were asked to facilitate the programme of work that helped align the structure, functions and roles in line with requisite principles and at the same time assist with aligning the management systems and processes to enable transparent information and confidence in the mine planning processes.
The opportunity that any reorganisation project presents for a business is, it helps align management expectations (strategy) through to the work being executed. Often it is found in the mining sector that many managers have been elevated into their position because of their technical expertise, not managerial expertise. The required training and development are often lacking, and the process of helping managers get clarity of roles usually results in them asking themselves, firstly are they capable of performing in the role, secondly what do they need to do to succeed in the role.
When managers and non-managers are asked to defend/describe their job or position it is usual for them to describe the tasks that they do. In some cases, they may even resort to obtaining a copy of their role description\position descriptions. Furthermore, these descriptions could well have been written by people who are not intrinsically linked to the operation, resulting in very generic descriptions. Only when questioned on the value of their role and their dependencies on horizontal and vertical relationships throughout the organisation do the managers really start to value the impact and clarity of their role.
One of the most common mistakes many organisations make when restructuring their business is to consider changing the structure, functional alignment and role design to be sufficient to allow the organisation to start to reap rewards.
Whilst the aforementioned steps are vitally important, not continuing the process to include management plans and assessment review often means the full benefit will never be realised, furthermore required support may also never be identified.
Once a manager has clarity of role and fully understands that they are accountable for the output of their resources, they can start to consider what steps will be required to fulfil the outcomes expected, and how they are going to support and evidence the value and performance of their resources.
The fundamental step, which is often ignored is the need for those who manage resources to understand the time frames with which they should demonstrate their capability in the role. They need to take their thoughts and apply them to a plan and to communicate that plan extensively. Once managers have clearly communicated their plan and steps to achieve the necessary goals required to support business objectives, it makes it easier for peers, subordinates and the managers to support its success. Appropriate measures and controls or milestones can be assigned to give added confidence on the delivery of the role.
With this particular client, when the management plans were being drawn it became clear that the organisation suffered as a result of some issues between different functions, different levels of hierarchy and support from their head office.
Mapping the different types of cross functional relationships allow questions to be asked to fully understand the root causes to many of the frustrations that existed. In some cases, relationship maps were drawn and descriptions used to articulate a range of authorities helped to clear many of the frustrations. It also became clear that information flow was a major cause of concern through all the supporting functions from exploration through to execution of the daily plans.
In short, because expectations had not previously been given as to when or how much information would be passed down the supply chain, confidence in output, direction and tasks were extremely low.
Starting from the exploration through to execution of the daily plan, resulting in broken stocks and haulage, our consultants asked key roles holders what their level of confidence was in completing the targets for the current year and the following year.
There were a plethora of reasons of why the targets could not be achieved and why it was out of the individual’s scope of control. This was to be expected and all the reasons raised had validity. However asking the accountable roll holders to describe what they would need to see within their own function in terms of, information flowing in, volumes of work being processed, and outputs from the function, to give them confidence in achieving the objectives for the year and the following year became critical information for the business.
Joining the expectations of the relevant functions and combining their descriptions of what confidence looked like allowed a clear pipeline to be drawn and used as a guiding document to start meaningful discussions around any constraints within the business. It also allowed timely accurate information to be provided in a reasonable amount of time and within sizes that enabled a continual flow of information.
The process allowed clear visibility of constraints within the system, which ensured the correct type of management focus on the support was given in the areas that needed it most.
The flow of information ensured conversations were relevant and to the point. Furthermore rather than managing down the organisation, the relevant functional managers were at last armed with the information that allowed them to work more cohesively and confidently.
The dynamics in the management meetings changed from the most senior manager asking the hard questions and demanding results to the functional managers being able to communicate where they were aligned with respect to their thoughts and able to communicate where things were in control, and where they were not, what was being done to rectify the situation.
Managers had a new perspective on what management was about, and the way they structured their time and efforts towards supporting and getting the best results from their resources became clearly evident. In doing so those people in non-management roles felt supported with the opportunities being presented to them which increased their motivation and confidence.
The functional relationships helped to remove frustrations and expose where further support was needed and where it could also be obtained. Management time, effort and energy were able to be focused in the right areas delivering real value for money.
Changes to roll accountabilities, the clarification of relationships and the development of management plans, combined with a clear pipeline of work allowed confidence to be given in the new management systems and processes. This assisted the client to achieve its yearly objectives and to progressively increase and succeed their production targets year-on-year since.
En-Sync 8020 is a professional consulting and business services provider. Our experience in business consultation, organisation design, modern manufacturing techniques, mining methods and process technologies allow us to facilitate our client success by ensuring that they have a robust and well-communicated strategy, a healthy structure and reliable systems and processes, supporting the right people in the right roles.