Tuesday, February 24, 2015

It’s people and training that finally make the difference

I have often wondered how a large newspaper publishing and printing company with multiple printing plants at different locations manages to achieve printing results that are not only of good quality but also comparable between all its different printing sites. Not once or twice in a year, but every single day, except perhaps for that odd holiday. How do the Systems and IT departments manage production and how they communicate with each other to ensure that there are no glitches? Are there key persons behind concepts and solutions, or is it a team effort? What was the goal and how was it achieved? How long did it take?

I could go on and on. The fact is that success is all about performing as a team. Today, in most well-run organisations, employees are encouraged to innovate and take risks. They are adequately trained to handle contingencies and become effective managers. They are also urged to take pride in the work they do. It’s the human element that is the key. Aspects such as what installations are necessary or which suppliers are involved are secondary. In a printing plant, the challenge for managers is to constantly drive home the sense of a positive attitude. Changes in organisation and workflow may well be required. But training is a definite yes. At most of the printing sites I have visited in recent years, if the production department has set a high standard of performance with quality benchmarks, employees are given ample opportunities to improve skills and knowledge.

If some of India’s top news publishing houses manage printing plants at several sites, ensuring that large operations with hundreds of staff and products adhere to the same rigorous quality everywhere, one of the important things is that they have processes set up in such a way that people know exactly what is to be done. There is responsibility, and accountability. A great deal of accent is given on training, such that every employee in the production department attends performance review meetings. Key responsibility areas are discussed threadbare – what was achieved, what was not and areas that need strengthening. It is during such exercises where there is openness and transparency and when constructive feedback is given and accepted, that employees begin to really see their value and what they are contributing to the newspaper.

Training is a huge responsibility. It’s people that finally make the difference, not the machines. For many years, the Research Institute for Newspaper Development, better known as RIND, has been conducting training programmes for the benefit of newspaper technical staff, equipping them with knowledge relating to developments in the field. RIND will now conduct a series of seminars each year. The first one, scheduled on April 22nd, will focus on running a web-offset press. You will find more details on the Press Institute of India website. Later in the year, there will be programmes on press maintenance, press consumables and picture editing and colour correction. Am hoping that newspaper technical and production heads will depute staff to such seminars. And also contribute with ideas so that the sessions can be made more meaningful.


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