Getting Together In The Morning, Helps Keep It Together.

I enjoy the squawk point and James Lawther’s well written, plain english to the point articles.  They make you think!  (http://www.squawkpoint.com/2012/05/hold-a-morning-briefing-like-a-tv-star).

I wanted to point out this particular article because the content is worth your time and even though it seems so simplistic an idea, it’s the reality and it’s critical to any team’s success. Especially on the warehouse floor a little communication at the beginning of the shift sets the tone for the day while it gets everyone off on the right foot with a sense of purpose.   Call it what ever you want: a morning huddle, fire side chat, standing meeting, or a tailgate, those five to ten minutes spent at the beginning of the shift are a valuable tool for you to keep the staff informed, current and involved.

As with everything else in being a leader, be consistent by having a huddle every morning and the topics are endless.  Great moment to remind them about drinking enough water and stay hydrated on a hot day.  Give pats on the back to the team for working in an unexpected truck delivery so fast yesterday. Review a safety issue that’s been in the news or that you’ve observed.  Letting them know a bank auditor will be visiting or heads from corporate will be touring through, posting of a new position in the company,  as well as, what training sessions will be available or about new customers coming on board.

This is not a time for negative feedback but good positive items to get them charged for the coming busy day.  BE on the floor, communicate and lead.

Adventures in Delivery – Time For Tea?

Many years ago I was the distribution manager for a company that delivered healthcare Durable Medical Equipment and related services to clients at home who were ill, recently released from the hospital, or needed oxygen refills. It was an extremely interesting job complete with many blindside hits and dropped balls thanks to poor information from the hospitals exasperated by our customer services’ inability to clearly interpret their cryptic requests so some days were crazier than others as we spent the day catching up.

That’s why no two days were alike, except for the regularly scheduled oxygen refills. This made it difficult to project the workload as the morning could be extremely quiet and then all it took to get slammed were several hospitals within our service area of San Francisco to Redwood City releasing multiple patients simultaneously. We were also in the middle of the AIDS epidemic and I spent many hours training our drivers on blood-borne pathogens to help quell their fears. However, we did have a few quit due to the misinformation and alternate facts of the time.

On those especially hectic days, I would help out by selecting a few calls that I could handle on my way home. It would get me out of the office for a little while and allow me to experience some of what my drivers were having. On this particular day, one of the deliveries was a walker for an elderly patient in an assisted living facility. Easy Peasy or so I thought. With paperwork and walker in hand, I checked in at the facility front desk then took the elevator to the eighth floor, and found the client’s apartment where I was greeted by his wife. As I entered the apartment I could see an elderly man reclined with his head resting on the sofa cushion wrapped in a blanket sound asleep. She wanted me to leave the walker but I explained that I needed to make sure it was properly adjusted to his height so he could properly use it. She nodded in agreement, turned, and in a sweet loving low voice she called, harold. No response as Harold remained asleep but she would not be deterred as she suddenly went full volume and yelled HAROLD! Harold shot straight up into a sitting position, opened his eyes, smiled, and in his loudest voice, asked, TEA? His wife immediately responded, NO TEA! Puzzled at first by the answer and looking disappointed, Harold thought and then asked MOVIE? She again responded, NO MOVIE! He finally noticed me and asked her what was going on, at least that’s what I’m guessing since I didn’t speak their native language.

Photo by Artur Roman on Pexels.com

While she explained to Harold what I needed him to do, I assembled the walker. It seemed he was still really upset about no tea as he kept muttering but his wife made it all good with a, TEA LATER! I had the walker ready and in place and began to help him get up so he could stand to make sure it was a comfortable height for him to use. As he stood, the blanket that was still wrapped around him fell away revealing that Harold was naked from the waist down. Life is a collection of memories and over time some fade-out and some never ever go away. The moment may seem surreal but is still recorded in the brain for constant playback whenever, where ever. Now let’s see that again, Phil but in slow motion. This is my reward, for trying to help and do the right thing? Ahh but this was not over yet.

I had to make a small adjustment to the legs and tried to accomplish this without getting too close to or having to make direct eye contact with Harold’s manhood. Just as I finished and turned to ask Harold how the walker felt, he answered with a torrent of urine. I froze, I didn’t know what to do as the floodwater cascaded but back away, however, his dear loving wife was prepared and with the speed and agility of a ninja, in one fluid motion grabbed a jar off the coffee table and had it in place before a drop could hit the floor.

As soon as Harold finished demonstrating gravity I quickly asked if they were happy with the walker. She smiled, Harold smiled, I smiled, the blanket never got picked up. She politely asked if I wanted to stay for tea. I politely declined and lied that I had more deliveries to make and left. I laughed at myself all the way from the elevator until I got home knowing full well that I may be Harold one day and test the verve of a young delivery person.

AssUMe Leadership

You can have all the Federal and State safety regulations you want in place, spend thousands of dollars on training, safety meetings, conducting drills, holding demonstrations, certifications with more training along with spelling out all the consequences for violations but if you allow complacency to creep into your daily facility, warehouse or manufacturing practices and don’t hold people accountable you will wind up costing yourself all that and valuable production time, medical expenses, increased workers compensation rates, and possibly steep fines.

When workers become complacent on the job they begin to cut corners with unsafe practices and start the assume game. I assume that the power to the 5 lb Hesser is turned off and no one would turn it on while I’m up to my elbows in the inner workings. I assume that there is no live ammo in the handgun I handed the actor. I assume that someone else turned in the unsafe maintenance issues, breaks don’t work, on the forklift. Unfortunately, when things are going smooth, at least on the surface they appear to be going smooth, and the boss couldn’t care less what’s not being done safety-wise on the shop floor no one else in management wants to be the bad guy and say something so the assumes accumulate and complacency slowly grows and morphs until.

That fateful day. A day that will change your life and the lives of many others because even though you meant to say something, you didn’t, you put it off and now an employee is severely injured or worse, dead. You feel guilty but that is going to be nothing compared to the scrutiny you are about to go through. The hours of depositions by lawyers, the thorough examination and questioning of your maintenance logs, training records, and safety meeting minutes. The amount of finger-pointing will be extensive as everyone tries to throw everyone but themselves under the bus.

On top of all of this, during the accident investigation as you search for answers, you need to fight off and avoid the ‘knee-jerk’ reaction. The public outcry and the union’s concerns will be exaggerated by the media and put pressure on the city, state, and Government to make new rules and new laws to protect our workers from such a horrible accident and from ever happening again BUT first, please ask yourself, WHY didn’t the current rules work?

Because you will find that the new rules, regulations, and laws will be just as susceptible to complacency as what was in place if you allow it but there is a cure for complacency. It’s called engaging, inspirational leadership. Now we can avoid you making an Ass of U and Me

Stuff Your Boss Probably Hasn’t Bothered To Tell You Cause No One Told Them-9

Did anyone ever bother to tell you that the funny-looking plastic tank mounted on the wall in your facility is not an emergency supply of water but your Emergency Eye Wash station! That’s why I continue to do this series to help you become more knowledgeable and successful at your job because information your boss should have passed on to you never got there and maybe because no one told them.

Any location in your facility that you store and/or work with chemicals you must have an eyewash station. So in any backroom or basement storage area, warehouse, manufacturer, shipping dock, laboratory, or fast food kitchen where you handle chemicals, cleaning solvents or bleach to clean, store, mix or ship, there is the chance of a spill and a chance of getting it in your eye. You only have seconds to flush it out before serious damage can occur to the eye. That’s why you have an eyewash station set up within ten seconds (55 feet)in an unobstructed path from where you are working with those items so you can begin to flush the irritant out and this takes at least 15 minutes of continuous water to flush your eye out correctly. Even if the pain stops before then keep applying water to your eye and have another employee alert management of the situation immediately.

But no one told you this and that thing on the wall, in the dark corner covered in dust and oily smudges with an old soda can sitting on it looks like it hasn’t been touched in months? Maybe Years? Are that algae growing in there? Now someone is in desperate need to use it as the burning sensation grows but the water is rancid or worse, it’s empty! Now as the person in charge you’ll have an employee going to the E.R. OSHA forms to fill out and a possible fine to the company. Do you think the company really won’t throw YOU under the bus?

You can prevent this scenario from occurring by adding to the checklist you’ve developed for yourself, the eye wash station. Begin and continue checking on a weekly basis that it activates as it’s suppose too and you can do it on your rounds. Monday, Wednesday it’s up to you. What ever works. Then add on your list to inspect the unit itself annually for any issues than can cause it from functioning correctly and document it. Also make sure it’s in a well-lit area along with a highly visible sign, “Eye wash station”. There are several types available but they all must wash both eyes simultaneously no more than 8″ above the spray heads, which themselves should be protected from any airborne contaminants. If it’s a wall mount or other without plumbing, you need to treat the water and change it on a routine basis to ensure everyones safety. See the manufacturers guidelines on what they recommend.

I would be amiss if I didn’t mention you can prevent the need to use an eye wash station by wearing the proper PPE when working with any type of chemicals such as a face shield, goggles and rubber gloves. Yes, even if cleaning. Stay safe, be patient, be mindful and listen. You’ll be a success.

OTHER TYPES OF EYE WASH STATIONS

Compliance is for others and not meant for me

As the government continues to trample on the civil rights of people by insisting we wear masks or other PPE and to get vaccinated so we don’t inadvertently kill ourselves or others by accident, the push back by some in our society on wearing masks has been mind boggling but nothing new or surprising. We have a history of fighting compliance and all you have to do is look back to 1966, a time when life was filled with surfing, psychedelics and muscle cars. Driving our cars along the highway or main drag, untethered to the seat with the top down, commuting with nature, the wind in your hair with the music cranked up was a birthright or so we thought. This freedom was about to be dealt a major set back when congress passed the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Act.

This new act was a response to the horrible year of 1960 when 93,803 deaths from unintentional injuries were recorded, 41% (38,459 human lives) were associated with motor vehicle crashes just like the one that took James Dean in 1955. Other high profile accidents continued to add fuel to the fire such as Comedian and TV personality Ernie Kovac in 1962 who plowed his station wagon into a power pole and without restraints wound up being thrown half way through the passenger side. In 1963 Country music singer Jack Anglin died in a car crash on the way to Patsy Cline’s funeral. 1964 race car driver Glenn Dunaway died when he crashed into a train at a rail crossing. Then in 1966 we saw the trio of celebrity car deaths beginning in April with musician Richard Farina killed in a motorcycle accident and then in August, both playboy model Tonya Crews died in a car crash as well as JFK assassination witness Lee Bowers when his car veered of the road. Then came 1967 when we lost Jayne Mansfield when her car hit the back of a big rig and Rockin’ Robin Roberts left us in a head on collision and he wasn’t even driving. So as you can see, death by car doesn’t discriminate, but it makes great headlines.

The new act created what is now the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA) which put forth the first seat belt law. May I introduce federal law Title 49 of the United States Code, Chapter 301, Motor Vehicle Safety Standard, which took effect in 1968. The federal law put the burden on car manufacturers by telling them to include seat belts into all new vehicles. Ah, but would they get used?

The use of seat belts didn’t actually become mandatory until each state in the U.S. which took their time to establish their own seat belt laws, with New York leading the way as the first state to mandate that drivers use a seat belt in 1984. It only took 18 years between when the law took effect and the first seatbelt law. Over the next eleven years 48 other states would institute seat belt use laws and along with hours of Public Service Announcements, courtesy notices and massive crackdowns by law enforcement with high penalties, people accepted wearing seatbelts as gospel. Even today, if you don’t click it you may be pulled over in a crackdown. However, in New Hampshire, where they “live free or die” and they do, as they remain the only U.S. state without a seat belt use law for drivers.

To make matters worse in the area of personal freedoms the first universal motorcycle helmet law was enacted in 1966 as well. In their ever so subtle way of coercion the federal government offered incentives to states to increase helmet use by enacting state helmet use laws, in the form of payments to certain federal safety programs and highway construction funds in their state. Universal helmet laws were in effect a lot sooner than seatbelt laws in 47 States and the District of Columbia by 1975. However, after Federal penalties were eliminated for States failing to have a universal law, about half the States repealed their laws. Several States have enacted or repealed helmet laws since then.

A similar history for workplace safety as congress established OSHA under the Occupational Safety and Health Act signed into law on December 29, 1970. Fifty years later companies still try to cut corners on safety putting human lives at risk just to save a few dollars they can put in their pocket. And here we are, today, still arguing over compliance and our personal freedoms. Compliance is such a funny concept and mishandled in this beautiful country of ours. When a law is made to protect people and it’s not working, instead of looking as to why, we make more laws with stiffer penalties and the fact is if we had enforced the current laws on the books as we should have in the first place, the problem would be gone but yet, full compliance is not achieved, so new tougher stronger laws are needed, not.

So here at his work place, Zeke is an outstanding employee. He’s never missed a day of work and he operates his large complicated machine like no one else. In fact, no one else has ever produced as many widgets on a shift as Zeke. Zeke is a mean widget making machinist. However Zeke has decided that he finds wearing hearing protection unnatural and violates his right to not wear it and go deaf but he wasn’t worried about going deaf as he’s sure he’s immune to deafness and refused to wear the mandatory ear protection. 80% of the manufacturing companies out there would have disciplined and/or terminated Zeke for non compliance. Rightfully so. Sad that, 20% would look the other way for such an outstanding performer. Zeke was terminated and of course sued saying that his termination was not for noncompliance but for being a practicing Druid.

What’s the big deal, Zeke was only hurting himself, no one else and he did such a great job! When Zeke can no longer hear the sound of a human voice, the sound of a spring day, the sound of his grandkids will he blame his beliefs or his employer? We often think about how something affects us today, we don’t often look 20 or 30 years down the road. You don’t know how over time your body responds and changes to stress, repetition of movement, exercise or lack there of and medications. The goal as I’ve been told by my Grandfathers and Grandmothers and Parents is to live as long as possible. So if the word compliance is something you can’t live with, let’s call it love. You want to love and be loved and wearing a mask demonstrates your love for life. Please be kind and mindful of others and stay safe.

Stuff Your Boss Probably Hasn’t Bothered To Tell You Cause No One Told Them-8

We’ve all heard the expression, cleanliness is next to godliness and in any plant or warehouse, that wants to be taken seriously, cleanliness is next to safety. That’s why I started and continue this series, to help you become a better leader because no one may have bothered to point out that good housekeeping and sanitation practices will not only improve safety by preventing accidents but can also help give equipment less time in maintenance and a longer lifespan.

Cleanliness is the Hallmark of perfect standards and the best quality inspector is the conscience” J. R. D. Tata

No body really seems to enjoy cleaning up but housekeeping has it’s place and by showing employees how to properly breakdown and stack cardboard, to place used shrink wrap, strapping and other trash in containers, and how to keep their work areas clean, the benefit is a reduction of trips and falls which are a top accident occurring in the workplace. By sweeping, mopping and washing your area, immediately cleaning up or containment of a liquid spill that can cause slips and falls. By keeping the work area floor free of clutter, obstructions and other debris will reduce the cause of trips and falls and when keeping it organized helps find tools and parts quicker. You have now created a productive and safe work environment which also leads to less sick time off by employees and increased retention.

Another reason to keep plastic wrap and other debris off the floor is to give forklifts a longer life span. If a forklift or other type of industrial powered equipment drives over it, it can be quickly sucked up into their inner workings and over time as the plastic heats up can literally gum up the works. You do not need the added expense of a down forklift and maintenance service call. Make sure there are enough trash receptacles throughout the facility but located where they’ll get most used.

In a warehouse where perishable goods and other food products are stored, good housekeeping is even more critical and usually referred to as sanitation. This involves more deep cleaning on a regular schedule as well as procedures and programs to control and prevent the entry of pest. A good sanitation program is laid out in a master sanitation schedule which ensures all critical areas are consistently cleaned to prevent any contamination of raw goods and finished food product so the customer receives the finest quality available.

When you keep your part of the universe, what ever it is, a department, a dollar store, a warehouse, a factory, clean and organized bosses and visitors usually don’t feel compelled to look further into what’s going on as it looks as it is, under control and that gives credibility to your abilities. Remember, you’re in charge, be in charge.

An Alternative Way to Volunteer in Your Community

As many of you know, what’s great about volunteering is it’s not only the act of kindness donating your time to help benefit others in your community but it gives you an incredible rush of feel good! I find the hardest aspect of volunteering for most is what to volunteer for and how to get started and totally understand that so I say the best thing to do is Google it, find something you do the best and then just do it! While you’re looking through that list may I bring something to your attention that you may never have considered? Become a CERTCommunity Emergency Response Team

As the name reflects, in the event of a natural disaster such as a flood, wildfire, earthquake, tornado or manmade catastrophe like a natural gas explosion, thanks to the training you’ll receive, you will be able to assist your neighbors with first aid, guidance, communication and reassurance during those initial minutes after which is critical until emergency responders are able to get to your neck of the woods.

Why is this important? As we have seen of late you can not count on your local, city or state officials to be prepared let alone able to respond. Large cities like NYC have fabulous central command centers staffed with well-trained leaders directing other well trained, dedicated professionals, ready and able to respond to any emergency scenario.  Smaller cities do not have that luxury thanks to budget cuts, covid and other circumstances on any given shift there are only so many firefighters on duty. They must safely handle house fires, other structure fires, vehicle crashes, grass fires and other emergencies, and even with the heroic efforts of first responders throw in a good sized earthquake and they can be quickly overwhelmed.

Once that happens 911 will be forced to begin triage of all the emergency calls responding to the most serious while minor injuries and emergencies are put on hold. If the roads and bridges are not usable after the quake they won’t even be able to count on backup from the other shifts as many first responders live out of town. Mutual aid will not arrive as they’ll be too busy with their own town’s emergencies.

However, if you have done your homework correctly as a CERT you have previously instructed your neighbors on being prepared for such a day by having them assemble and store emergency kits with batteries, portable charger, water, blankets and food in each home. A CERT can also dole out minor first aid to those in need and aid, comfort and prepare others in more serious condition for transport when the calvary arrives. Working together you can ensure you and your neighbors will have a better chance of surviving a catastrophe and there is no rule that there can be only one CERT per neighborhood, the more the better. I became a CERT in 2016 and have enjoyed every aspect of the experience immensely. Even if this is not your cup of tea, at least make sure you and your family assemble an emergency kit/to go bag.

Stuff Your Boss Probably Hasn’t Bothered To Tell You Cause No One Told Them-7

Another Super Bowl is in the books and it didn’t turn out to be quite the close game many thought it would be. It was entertaining to watch the seasoned veteran out play the young determined student. Never under estimate an old master, we always have a trick or two up our sleeves. It also demonstrated what fantastic leadership can accomplish as Tom Brady has now taken two different teams to Super Bowl victories. Every time the team would huddle up, he created magic in there with clear instructions and encouragement so everyone knew their role to make sure the mission was successful. This is something you can bring to your team by beginning each day with a huddle.

That’s why I continue this series, because through no fault of your own you may have not received the information or training needed to be successful at your job. A new supervisor faces many challenges and hopefully this will help give you the confidence to do the job correctly and an edge over the competition while impressing your bosses.

You can get the huddle habit going by having the staff assemble at a convenient location usually where they’ll begin working every morning or start of the shift, so the loading dock, warehouse floor, construction site, forklift area, shop floor, or the break room are all great locations. Make sure to join them in the circle and for the next five to ten minutes, no longer, address your staff in a positive and inspirational manner about any topic you need, to make sure they have a safe and productive day. The topics can cover the upcoming days activities, a safety reminder about wet floors during the rain storm, informing about an unusual number of cases to be picked and loaded, reminder on changing the production date stamp, commending a worker for their extra effort or just to say, thank you.

Once you’ve established your daily huddles you’ll open the floodgates to open and honest communication between you and the staff which is critical for any supervisor, manager or leader to build trust. You may not have the best knowledge of how a machine operates but if you can properly communicate and can relate to people you’ll learn everything you need to know. Then you can slowly incorporate a weekly safety tailgate/lunchbox meeting which is usually 10 -15 minutes, and then a monthly safety meeting which may last up to a hour depending on the topic and who knows maybe a quarterly safety committee meeting.

Remember, trust and open communication can be totally trashed with one miscue on your part and then it’s even harder to rebuild that trust. Always get back to staff on their questions or ideas even if it’s to say you don’t know but you’ll find out. Always be mindful, kind but firm and you’ll be a success.

Stuff Your Boss Probably Hasn’t Bothered To Tell You Cause No One Told Them-6

Here we are, another month in another new year. As we all know many things can happen over the course of a year and with about 260 work days it may be tough to remember what occurred on a Tuesday, ten months ago. Why is that important? That’s why I continue this series, because through no fault of your own you may have not received the information or training needed to be successful at your job. A new supervisor faces many challenges and hopefully this will help give you the confidence to do the job correctly and an edge over the competition while impressing your bosses.

The best investment you can make during your entire career is a 3 X 5 note pad. Yea, it’s analog technology but it won’t crash and can’t be hacked. This note pad will help you keep track of events that occur during your shift and is easy to keep in your back pocket while you are making the rounds on the shop floor, warehouse stacks, shipping docks or around the outside of the facility.

Events? During the course of your busy day you have many events to handle. [First this – if you document employee actions in your 3 X 5 note pad it is now a legal document and you need to be very specific in your notes with no color commentary.] Event 1 – if you do annual reviews you don’t want to rely only on recent events that stand out in your mind to evaluate an employee, it’s not fair to them. So when you look back to Tuesday, ten months ago you’ll see your note of an observation that Bob stopped his forklift and got off to pick trash up off the floor and dropped it in a container. No good deed should go un-noted and even though you told Bob then, good job, you’ll see the pattern of responsibility on his part in your notes and recommend and develop him for a leadership role. So for good and bad, keep notes for reviews, raises and recognition. When I observed an employee properly wearing their PPE on a consistent basis I made a note and made sure they received a certificate of recognition and noted on their review. If I had to remind an employee once in a great while to wear PPE and they complied, never bothered noting it but if it became several times a week then yes, make a note. You need to protect yourself as well and if the employee goes and gets injured and his lawyer tried to say you never said anything, you have proper documentation. There are good notes and bad notes but you need to record all the notes in straight forward language without any color commentary. In other words, just the facts.

Event 2 – You deal with different vendors on a daily basis as well as staff, including but not limited to overnight delivery services, shipping companies, temporary staffing firms, HVAC and refrigeration, facilities maintenance, grounds keeping, forklift maintenance and repair, equipment rentals and other various suppliers from office supplies to raw materials. Track the quality of service you receive, do they resolve issues quickly, do they return phone calls in a timely manner, do their drivers follow your facilities rules, do their repair staff respect your facility? These are good indicators especially when it comes to repairs and maintenance of equipment, do repairs last or do they come out often? Check with corporate as they may keep a report card on vendors and your information will be very helpful for future contract negotiations. Never wait until the end of the year and blindside a vendor with a laundry list of issues. Give them an opportunity to work them out before they become a serious issue so bring to your representatives attention right away.

Event 3 – Like a circus juggler performing in the center ring, you have many different items up in the air at the same time so while you walk you facility it helps to use your note pad when you come across items that need attention. Make note right as you see them and before being distracted by another item in the air. These items can be but not limited to broken cross bar, emergency exit light not working, missing extinguisher, leaking valve, machine guard missing. When you get back to your desk you can refer to your notes as you complete work-orders for the repairs.

Event 4 – Another great reason to carry a 3 x 5 notepad is you never know when an idea is going to hit! Like being in the shower when great ideas pop into your head, something you see happening in the facility could spark an idea. Write it down, you don’t want to forget it. An idea for a safety meeting topic or an area needing additional lighting? Even make note of ideas employees bring to your attention. Look into it, then make sure to get back to the employee on the status of their idea.

When you take the position of a supervisor, you are responsible for the safety and well being of your staff and customers. You are responsible for delivering the best experience for your customer within a safe environment as well as safe and nurturing for your staff. You are caught between and need to find a way to balance the goals and culture of corporate with the realities of your location and situation. They don’t want to hear excuses, they only want the goals met so how you get there is somewhat up to you. Take advantage, be creative but most of all treat people with respect, develop their talents, be firm but always fair and make sure to make notes.

The Procrastinating Consultant

Procrastination

The relationship between a company and a contractor consultant needs be one of trust, transparency and all about the customer to be successful.  In addition the ability of the consultant to listen should be extremely refined to hear what the company braintrust wants the new system to accomplish but also and maybe even more important listen to how the employees will operate the system to obtain maximum efficiently in the task enhanced by their product.  After a period of listening and mirroring employees the hope is the contractor will deliver that much needed system to make everyone happy.

At the time we were owned by an Investment firm who really didn’t have a clue about what went into the making and packaging of the product we made and had no interest to learn.  The equipment was ancient and abused being kept together with baling wire, duct tape and the sheer determination of veteran mechanics using every trick in the book to keep production moving.  Downtime was a common occurrence and a great source of frustration for each and every department.  With all that going on, the Investment firm in their infinite wisdom decided the most important thing to do was improve invoicing.  Not the equipment needed making the product to sell so we can have something to invoice but invoicing itself as the sooner an invoice went out the quicker we could get paid, but not so we have money to improve production but so management can give themselves bonuses.  Well, I guess when it’s put that way, it all makes sense.

bobprocrastination

The contractor consultant the software company sent to work with us seemed a nice enough guy at first.  He spent little time with the employees for their input but a lot of time hob knobbing with the investment firm executives.  I expressed concern but was assured he was spending time on the floor with employees getting the important input but after investigating found that was not the case.  The most critical part of a software upgrade is during the transition period when the employees begin using it live.  You want them to know how to do their job correctly to help build their confidence using the new system and this is usually accomplished with training material provided by the vendor.  As intuitive as the consultant thinks his system may be for users this may not actually be the case with your people if the consultant didn’t listen properly or replaced their information with his own beliefs on how it should be used.

Our consultant procrastinated and when we went live our newly upgraded Management System that was to better track inventory, streamline shipping and speed up invoicing wasn’t!  You know the old saying, garbage in, garbage out, that’s what was happening.  Without the training material people were making scanning errors, weren’t sure how to use the printer let alone how to reload it with labels.  Bar codes were incomplete or just plain wrong and product was being incorrectly identified.  We spent every morning, recounting inventory and readjusting it which ate up valuable time that the new system was suppose to save for us.  It was a mess and of course the usual finger pointing began between the investment firm, the contractor, the consultant and the workers.  Fun was had by all.

bar-code

I wanted my crew to succeed and could no longer wait on the promises of a procrastinating consultant who didn’t seem to share our concerns.  On my own time I made enlarged copies of the bar codes, with the name of the product boldly displayed and placed them in plastic protectors.  Wrote out the procedure to sign on to the scan gun and  where to apply the printed label then double checked that the whole super sack crew were in the system and had the proper access.  As soon as the production meeting was over where we found out we had three kinds of super sacks to pack out I went to the station to have a huddle with my staff.  We covered the scanning process and gave them the bar codes and other materials but most importantly I told them there was going to be a no fault policy in effect.  If they made a mistake all they had to do was tell me right then and there so I could make the necessary adjustments immediately in the system.  I watched them for a while, could see they had it down and went on my regular rounds.  The crew loved it and their confidence soared thanks to the no fault and materials so much so they set a shift record for the number of super sacks produced.  We left copies of everything at the super sack station and told the other superintendents what we did.  The inventory errors went away, productivity improved, the inventory manager was happy, our customers were happy and most of all, the investment bankers were happy as we could now enjoy the benefits of the new system. 

I did however make one underestimation.  As it turns out the V.P. of Finance, one of the investment bankers who championed the upgrade of our inventory/shipping/invoicing system had been paying attention to what was going on after all and after our procrastinating consultant complained to him that I had jumped the gun and what I did, oh how dare I want my staff to be successful, the V.P. brought him to our next production meeting and thanked me in front of everyone for my efforts.  I had made a new ally and was able to get a few more improvement projects completed before they sold the company to a larger manufacturer who understood what we did.

It’s easy to complain when things don’t happen as they should, it’s another thing to put your money where your mouth is and take care of the issue with a little extra effort.  There is always a solution, don’t fear thinking outside the box.

 

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Companies Behaving Badly-Rituals

I was only eight days old when the family gathered around and watched as the moil and I took center stage and in the tradition of my fore fathers, was circumcised,. It is our way. It was not only my first public performance and I’m not sure how I felt about it or what the reviews from relatives were but also got my very first taste of wine and ritual involvement. My next significant ritual was at 13 years old for my Bar Mitzvah, where I was allowed to read directly from the Torah and being recognized before the congregation as an adult. It was my first paid speaking engagement and attended and reviewed by most of the same people who saw me at eight days old. My dad and uncles decided I had earned my first shot of whiskey as well so away and out of sight from the moms, I joined the adult men, l’chaim! Mmm that was much better than the Manischewitz.

So far, rituals haven’t been so bad. A little work a few hours of practice but interesting and rewarding experiences unlike the next ritual that would come my way. It was the year I made the varsity football team which was a goal I had set for myself before the summer. The extra workouts I did during that time and other hard work paid off, I was excited. The team captain told us to meet at the field the night before our first game of the season and under the cover of darkness I was introduced to a new ritual, drinking alcohol as a team. Even though the drinking age was only 18 in New York at the time, except for a few seniors most of us were underage forming a bond of silence of our illegal team building activity. Except for the occasional holiday glass of wine, I didn’t have much of a drinking history so it was overwhelming having to finish a quart size bottle of Colt 45 malt liquor to ensure my commitment to the team. We won our first game pretty big over a rival school and then went on to lose the next 9 in a row.

Unfortunately trust rituals don’t stop in high school and I don’t mean the team building exercises like catching someone falling backwards. My childhood friend always wanted to be a New York City Police Officer. It was his dream and he did everything he needed to do to ensure when he graduated High School he could get into the academy. He did. He did great and passed and was assigned to a precinct and a training instructor. He was ready to learn a become the best police officer New York had ever seen. His first night on patrol with his new training instructor was a rainy nasty night and his instructor drove over to a movie theatre, parked the patrol car and walked into the movie theatre. The chain and sign blocking the entrance to the balcony said it was closed but it didn’t stop his T.I. from entering with my friend in tow. What were they going to do? Was there a call he didn’t hear? As his eyes adjusted to the darkness he saw several other training instructors with their trainees in tow, sitting in the theatre, avoiding the rain, his heart was broken. He knew this was a test to see who can keep quiet and trusted if the need were to arise and who they’ll ostracize.

There is nothing wrong with rituals. Some are fabulous and well thought out like the rookie pitcher who has to carry a pink backpack full of goodies for the other pitchers in the bullpen. It’s not a test of secrecy but for a sense of humor. Then there are those sinister rituals where a boss tells you a very graphic ethnic joke knowing full well it’s wrong but wants to see if you’re one of the boys or not. Any ritual that requires your secrecy can’t be good in the long run and you’ll have a decision to make for yourself. When it comes time to keep quiet about something that happens, to look the other way, to see nothing, how far are you willing to compromise your beliefs, your morals, your individuality? Will you be able to stand up for yourself and not bow to the threats, the rumors, the hearsay and outright lies. How strong can you be? When you observe that ritual behavior and go along you are no longer the individual you once were, you now belong to them.

May I introduce another honorable public servant. Ohio PUC Chairman Samuel Randazzo who abruptly resigned four days after the FBI searched his home https://buff.ly/3pNKqZo He was only trying to help other companies achieve their goals and oh yea, allegedly took a $4 Million dollar bribe.

And yet another honorable corporate executive who only has others best interest at heart and not himself but somehow still left his heart and wallet in San Francisco as Former Recology executive charged with laundering bribes worth more than $1M in SanFrancisco https://buff.ly/3m1X0ln.

How about this honorable company, Duke, who now won’t foot its up to $9B coal ash clean up bill even though they knew the coal ash was dangerous to the environment to begin with. To add insult to injury, the shareholders could still absorb half of the cost, court rules https://buff.ly/37kVoye

The honorable company, Mid Oregon Builders, LLC refuses to provide a safe workplace for their employees. They have recently been fined $42,000 for continued job safety violations, exposing workers to falls that could kill them and this is not the first time they’ve done this, https://buff.ly/37BerTY

This is the last Companies Behaving Badly for 2020. A year we can all agree, we’ll be very happy to see go. Thank you for taking time out of your day and stopping by to read my blog. I hope it makes you a better leader and a better person. Stay safe, do social distancing, wear a mask, wash your hands, be kind to each other and get ready for a beautiful and productive 2021.