Organizational and Team Management in Times of Change


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Ross Berntson, president and COO of Indium Corporation, shares his perspective, thoughts, and lessons learned on managing his global organization as Indium Corporation responds to health issues, market demand shifts, and organizational change. This interview was conducted in May 2020.

Barry Matties: Ross, we recently conducted an interview with you on the manufacturing pledge Indium Corporation and a consortium of manufacturing businesses in central New York developed and signed. The realization is that it’s not identifying the small things that you may not think about—like the salt and pepper shakers— but now we’re rethinking nearly everything, including company strategy and markets. Let’s start by talking about health and safety.

Ross Berntson: If you can keep a spirit of everyone being in this together and trying to create a safe environment, then a lot of good ideas come out from the people on the front lines. That’s so important because the big challenge that we’re fighting right now is complacency. We’re bringing in a local analytics professor on the fidelity of adherence to practices like in healthcare and in foodservice companies. She has been doing this work for a long time. She’s going to help us come up with both metrics on the fidelity to the program, as well as ways to look at measuring how well we’re doing at keeping that fidelity high.

Matties: And that becomes a very visible measure for your entire team to be aware of.

Berntson: We have a goal of zero on-site transmission, of course. And it doesn’t mean zero cases. It’s almost impossible to have zero cases. People in the company are married to healthcare workers. We’ve already had positive cases in our employee population, but we haven’t had that transmission through contact tracing on-site, which is our goal. We don’t want any on-site transmission.

Matties: Are you doing daily temperature checks as they come to work?

Berntson: We are. We have a health screening check that we do when people come in. We take everyone’s temperature. But one of the biggest things we’re finding is perhaps most people with a temperature don’t show up because they know we’re taking temperatures, which is good. The thing that’s harder to see is the person who has a loved one at home who’s not feeling well. That’s where we’re spending a lot more time, trying to make sure we ask that survey question and provide some rigor around it by emphasizing that point. If you have someone at home who’s sick, you need to stay home until we can figure out if they have exposure to COVID-19 or not to protect all the other employees.

To read this entire conversation, which appeared in the July 2020 issue of SMT007 Magazine, click here.

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