Inflation Woes and Supply Chain Debacles: Leading Workers Through Transitional Times

By Bob Hampe

Posted November 9, 2022

No matter where you get your news, one consistent theme has emerged as our nation and the world grapple with a long, drawn-out recovery from the effects of the pandemic: Transitional times can be tough

Whether it’s global inflation, supply chain issues or new work-life habits, managers and business leaders are stuck with a veritable buffet of challenges as they lead workers through transitional times. At Actall, we prioritize flexibility and commonsense leadership—and that remains the same even now. Here are a few ways we’ve weathered, and continue to navigate, this current storm. 

Feeling the Pinch of Rising Costs

We have recently begun to expand our services into Australia, and as part of that expansion we completed an extensive cost analysis of all of our ATLAS components. The results were eye-opening; component and shipping costs within our supply chain have increased significantly across our product line. We have not entertained price increases for clients in some time, but the changing economic landscape has forced us to be more internally vigilant regarding our own pricing and product costs.

Supplier price changes are now much more fluid than they were in the past—it really requires that we study our own costs more frequently, and that includes our team’s efficiency metrics. Are we hitting our benchmarks? Is there a way to do this more effectively or efficiently? What does the team need to complete a project? Can we tweak the way we communicate to ensure a consistent flow of information from team to team? All of these questions come across my desk (and knock around in my brain) with regularity. 

Dispersed / Decentralized Workforces

At Actall, we’ve always been a “work wherever, whenever” company. We haven’t felt the same growing pains as many other organizations have these past couple of years as they’ve adapted to managing hybrid or remote workforces. 

What it comes down to, especially when efficiency is king, is trust. My colleagues are adults, and they have proven time and time again that they are more than capable of hitting benchmarks without being nagged or surveilled. It’s an uncomfortable feeling, sometimes, not being able to simply drop in and get a progress check. But I’ve found that, when my colleagues are happy, the work is excellent. 

It is clear that many of the former hallmarks characterizing modern workplaces—mandatory office time, assigned seating, strict dress codes, quantity of hours billed—will continue to be left behind. Our job, as leaders, is to determine what will take their place, so our workplaces and work cultures remain relevant, supportive and effective into the future. 

Worker Happiness Makes Business Sense

My leadership style is probably best described as “reflective laissez-faire.” I try to exhibit the same sort of “get it done” attitude and sense of urgency (through a positive demeanor, of course) that I expect others to bring to our team every day.

That said, we’re all human. We all go through our own ups and downs throughout the days, weeks and months. Setbacks and failures are integral to everyday life and critical to continuous improvement. Creating a supportive environment that’s responsive to human needs and acknowledges that we’re not robots (what a novel thought!) is, I’ve found, critical to workforce happiness. And the research is clear: When workers are happy, they’re more productive, and your business is healthier. Your teammates are your greatest assets, and treating them as such will pay dividends. 

These next several months promise to be full of challenges, changes, setbacks and progress. Staying flexible and adaptable, even and especially in these transitional times, will set an example for your entire team—and increase the health of your business along the way.