Jorge Luis Cristerna
Operations Director
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Expert Contributor

Somethings Never Change… Except For Change Itself

By Jorge Cristerna | Wed, 11/23/2022 - 13:00

Mining is a matter of people working with people. It is about working together in the best way possible to accomplish great performance, results and growth for everyone involved. It is also about the huge efforts to control all the small  details that are involved in every step of the productive process in mining, even those  that seem uncontrollable. 

Although our world is changing at a speed humanity has never experienced before, it is also true that in mining, there are somethings that never change: 

  • Mining is based on teamwork

  • Security is the priority 

  • Despite technological advances, there is an inherent risk in mining operations that must be observed at all times

  • Mining is connected with many activities that happen all around the mine, creating a virtuous circle for the productive chain 

  • Community relations are very important so we can be certain that we are  creating stability and growth around our operations 

  • Effort is very important in mining but working together with intelligence and strategy makes mining better for everyone involved 

None of these  has changed in mining despite all the years, technological and socio-cultural changes but, maybe, the most important thing of all that hasn’t changed is that … everything changes!

No matter what we are talking about, everywhere in everything we do, something is changing and if it is not, it is going to change eventually, so we have to be prepared to change with it,  before it is too late and we are forced to change too fast and with poor results. 

Therefore, the need to manage change is very important in our industry so we can protect and improve the basics that are working OK but which can be improved,   see the areas that need to change right away, those  changes that need to be done in stages, and also, the outside changes and how they can affect or benefit our mining operation. 

If we do not manage change,  change will manage us.  

Change can happen mostly in four areas of our operation:

Promotion. How we communicate to others what we are doing, how we are doing it, and how our relations with the community around us are evolving. 

Product. The quality of our product or service, the reach we have and  what our clients precisely need from our product or service.

People. One of the most dynamic areas in which our industry changes is  people. People change every day and they are very complex. 

Process. Changing how we do things, how we get things done. We can change things to solve problems, to avoid future problems, or even to improve what we are doing well right now. 

Now, if mining is a matter of people working with people, we have to delve deeper into managing change regarding people.

The areas where we can manage change related to people are: 

Head hunting. Where are we looking for the people to integrate into our company? Are they aligned with our mission (why do we exist as a company), our vision (where are we heading to), our values (how are we working together), the kind or profiles we attract to our company today is the kind of company we are building for the future. It is necessary to be careful about where and how we are looking for future talent for our companies. A top recommendation is to hire not only for technical skills and experience, but for values.  

Induction. How do we integrate newcomers into our company? Do we just “spit them out” into the operation or do we take time to train them in the basics of their everyday duties? We have to make mentoring an important part of our induction system, combining the technical, basics and administrative needs with our core values. 

Development. Once people are working with us, we cannot expect they will want to do the same thing over and over again forever, so how do we know what kind of future training they will need? Do they have a life path for their growth inside our company? Can they get certified? If they do not want to move up (take on higher responsibilities), can they work a parallel path (gain a bigger reach into what they can do). 

Integration. How do we manage talent? Are they deep into a sense of belonging? Do we provide  a systemic vision? Do we cultivate ownership in everyone of them or do we expect them to just follow rules? 

So, why change now if everything is going well? Maybe  that is the best time to change. Believe me, it is better to change to improve what you already have than changing because you really need to. 

Photo by:   Jorge Cristerna