Brandon Hetrick Parker Hannifin

What’s More Important in Change Management? Managing Up or Down?

Lauren Koppelman March 5th, 2021

An associate piece picking with AMR

Last spring, Brandon Hetrick, Plant Manager at Parker Hannifin, joined the Rising Tide podcast to talk about change management and what he considered when bringing automation into his warehouse operation. “Change management is a huge aspect of any kind of technology program,” Hetrick explains. “It’s not only managing up, but also down.”

So, what is more important when making a major change to an operation? Managing up or down? Here are some key takeaways from the conversation.

The Case for Managing Down

When making operational changes, engaging the people who will be personally impacted by its adoption is key. Brandon honed in on this during our conversation. “The big driving factor for us is our people,” Brandon said. “The biggest thing I looked at is whether the solution benefits the folks using it. Does it make jobs safer? Does it make work easier? Really, it just starts with that.”

Managing downward was the biggest priority for Parker Hannifin, Brandon explained. “When we brought the decision to everyone in the facility, we spoke about the benefits. What’s in it for them, how it’s going to make their job easier and better. Once you start to do that, it all rolls downhill. By creating a better work environment for our folks, then you get that better output for our customers. And then from that, you end up seeing it in the financials and everything else as you go forward.”

The Case for Managing Up

Brandon found the upward management to be necessary, but a much lighter lift. “From an upward perspective, the biggest thing was making sure that we had our ducks in a row: these are the things we’re looking at, here are our criteria, here are the key points. All you have to do for the upper level managers is instill confidence that you have gone through and made sure that we are getting what we expect. Make sure that you’ve done your due diligence and show them that.”

4 Pillars to Consider When Thinking About a New Technology Solution

  1. Understand the culture within your building
    • Be honest with yourself: What is your culture ready for?
    • Brandon said, “If you don’t get your full team locally engaged in the process, you’re going to struggle on the implementation side. You’re not going to get what you expect.”
  2. Understand your own business
    • “Know enough about what your business really needs so you can make an educated choice about which way you want to go”
  3. Make sure there’s a solid core infrastructure in place
    • There are a lot of solutions that enable automation but don’t necessarily leverage insights, intelligence, and any number of other features. Make sure that the solution you choose has a solid core.
  4. Look for partnership from your service provider
    • “You guys have a team that’s very involved in the product. You basically want to live it, eat it, breath it every single day and you can see that – it comes through. You guys want to continue to evolve. You understand what you’re doing, you understand the marketplace and where you guys fit in and then you just want to take it to that next level.”

Hear more from Brendan Hetrick on Thursday, March 18 at 5:00 PM EST at CSCMP New England’s Interactive discussion and mixology course, “Uncovering the Benefits of Collaborative Robots