What a difference a year breaks … because the past 12 months have broken nearly every framework and most rules that leaders of distribution companies have learned over their entire careers. What the pandemic did not break was the core value of distribution; in fact, it proved out just how adaptive distributors can be when faced with incredibly complex challenges. And how entrepreneurial, ethical and resilient our system of distribution continues to be. That comes down to the culture, talent and workplace environment.
Beyond some of the narrow media focus on the breakdowns of supply chain, whether directly related to the pandemic or otherwise, the deeper story is made up of the millions of transactions and deliveries every day that helped the economy bounce back as quickly as it has.
While I am not minimizing the incredible stress and pain many in this industry have endured, the pandemic pushed leaders to make necessary, hard decisions that have strengthened their teams and value propositions. For some companies, it kickstarted their work on transformation; for others, it accelerated and focused journeys underway well before 2020 – in digital, analytic or business model transformation.
We’re on the cusp of a rebound as we enter the second quarter of 2021, and not just a forecast economic surge with consensus GDP growth predictions above 6%. Every organization has experienced pandemic fatigue and impacts on productivity due to a whole range of factors that are now part of a vocabulary we didn’t have a clue about in 2019. And most teams in distribution have their heads down to execute and keep the wheels on the bus in the most disruptive work and market environment ever experienced.
A roadmap for your team
What every distribution leadership team is experiencing in some degree today – the disruption, productivity challenges, talent development, disengagement – is why we put together the program for our Future of Distribution Summit next week (Register here). It’s a roadmap to help your team thrive and transition out of crisis mode in 2021. The core theme is how to move your team forward and build the team of the future, today.
Our program (next Tuesday and on-demand for 90 days) shares ideas and examples of what distributors are doing to lead their teams in this transition and strengthen their value propositions, cultures and teams today. Our lead-off speaker, Jim Pouliopoulos, will bring ideas on employee retention and effectiveness, and how critical a positive outlook by employees is right now. Mark Dancer will discuss the three emerging business models shaping the future of distribution (also in our podcast conversation at the end of this article). And I’ll be sharing our research on how distributors are resetting their value propositions.
Part of this current transition is in attracting and developing the best talent possible. John Salvadore will share how the pandemic has created a job candidate’s market today. He’ll discuss what job seekers value most, and the key recruiting trends that land the top talent.
We devote two hours of our program on diversity and inclusivity in building a stronger culture going forward, which includes a conversation with Graybar CEO Kathy Mazzarella, a celebration of our MDM Women in Distribution Award winners, and panel discussion with some of the winners.
All these topics together create a winning formula for success and how you can put short- and long-term tactics in place to build a future-ready team. I truly believe the last year has been the deepest affirmation of the value of independent distribution and what has made the U.S. the most adaptive supply chain system on the planet. And now is the best time to plan out what the next version of success looks like for your business.
Whether you can join us next week or not, I hope you can take the time during this transition period in 2021 – for you and your key leadership team members – to look out a little farther than most of us have been able to in a year to gain some ideas and different perspectives on how to keep your post-pandemic transition moving faster and farther – not just for 2021 but years ahead.