“One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.” —Arnold Glasow
It appears of late that everyone wants to be in charge but want nothing to do with accepting the accountability that comes along with it. Leadership is not about making the most creative excuses or formulating alternate facts. Leadership knows that whether it’s being used in a warehouse facility, manufacturing plant or any city USA, that maintaining the facility/infrastructure and fair and consistent enforcement of regulations is critical to the continuous success of everyone involved. Roads and bridges to keep commerce moving, mass transit to move people to their jobs and the utilities to power it all. However, over the years, the across the board robbing of Peter to pay Paul began as cities began playing a dangerous shell game of who gets what funding and attention and for how long which would prove to have fatal consequences. Instead of dealing with big ticket items like Police accountability, housing, fair wages, maintenance and upkeep of the infrastructure, the buck passing continued from administration to administration each promising that this is the time it will get done.
The art of leadership was soon eroded as it deteriorated into more of a caretaker role protecting the status quo and defending your lack of action with excuses. It’s everyone else’s fault and not mine. Infrastructure! The cost is enormous but we still have time before it’s critical. Housing for the poor? Relax, we have lots of unsafe vacant warehouses available. We’ll look the other way, wink, wink. Fire, police, homeless. Relax, we have the community in a dialogue over how we’re busy trying to keep our baseball and football teams in town. That’ll then solve all our other ills. Until then, just wait. The leadership vacuum continued and now, well, we’ve all seen the headlines. Ghost Ship Warehouse Fire, 39 die! The problem was there, they knew about it, it dropped right through the cracks. For a little while the plight of the homeless and affordable housing was the focus as their deaths would hopefully lead to something. The voices faded. Oroville Dam Spillway collapses followed by the sequel, the emergency spillway is not working either! Hundreds of thousands are evacuated! People’s lives severely disrupted! The Governor gave his dog and pony show on how we’ll fix it, now. Hmmmm, it got quiet again. The Coyote Creek in San Jose unexpectedly floods it’s banks as the Anderson reservoir that is allowed to hold only 68% of capacity due to fears it’ll collapse in an earthquake was at 104% and needed to purge. Yea, I know, but if you think that’s stupid how about the fact the water district sat on $22 million dollars the people had approved to spend on fixing the flooding issues. The citizens of San Jose near the creek lost everything! Thousands of them had to be evacuated. The city and the water district never saw them as people, just collateral damage. Since we’re on the topic of stupid. BART has plenty of staffers at station with no trains or riders. That’s right! The new station had 5 full time agents and 1 full time train dispatch supervisor standing around doing nothing for 5 months. The hold up, the new stations computers couldn’t communicate with the much older system that operates BART. It seems there are issues with communication between the generations no matter where you go. The punchline is BART now telling us they’re running out of money. Who ever said incompetence is cheap?
When you are placed in charge, BE in charge! Your success is in your hands so have a plan. First, get the basics. Budget, staffing, equipment, goals. Then plan on consistently doing a monthly walk around your facility, which can also be combined with a Pop-In once in a while. You’re looking for what needs attention? Does the emergency lighting work, emergency exit signs light up, fire extinguishers, potholes, lighting, racks, equipment, charging station, tin cats. Those are just a few and you’ll come up with items that are specific for your operation. When you find issues that need to be addressed, deal with them right away. You saw above what happens when you put it off. It winds up costing you more money in the long run as well as employee trust and your reputation, which I hope still means something, as you can’t keep telling them to eat cake, forever.
Even though it ended on March 10th, I wanted to mention this event in Canada, Road Safety at Work Week kicks off. The government is making efforts to raise awareness and the adoption of road safety practices for company drivers. They’re on the road almost every day representing your company and whether you like it or not, they are advertisements good or bad. Make sure to throughly explain your expectations for job performance and level of professionalism.
In the February 20th issue of Companies Behaving Badly I mentioned the challenge of dealing with boys being boys. Continuing on that subject of “boys will be boys” we should point out that St. Patrick’s day is this Friday, which is a good thing, bad thing. Good since it means no sicks calls during the workweek but bad since the filters will be off as there is no worry as most don’t work on Saturday and it’s exasperated by the NCAA tournament. This is another semi-holiday we’ve perverted into nothing more than an excuse for a drinking frenzy along with Cinco de Mayo. They’ve become the alcoholic version of The Purge except the only killing is not to ones own brain cells, but from head on collisions in cars. If you’re going to drink, keep your car at home, take public transit in and back. There are also real Taxi cabs available out there as well as those internet alternatives. You don’t really want to spend the weekend in lock up and most definitely want to come back on Monday. St. Patrick’s day was a great holiday to be a cab driver in NYC, which I did for 2 years while in college. It’s not just the many runs you get taking people from one bar to another but the riches to be found in the form of small change that gets lost in the back seat. Intoxicated people tend to fumble around and inadvertently drop things and they tip well too. Thank you to those who jumped into my cab and helped put me through college as I listened to and helped you solve your life’s problems within a 15 minute ride.
Important information you Welders should know about. Washington University study raises questions about current welding safety standards. The study examined the long-term effects of airborne manganese on welders and found that symptoms associated with parkinsonism — a neurological condition that causes tremors, muscle stiffness and other movement abnormalities — increased over time. It may be a great time to upgrade your equipment.
Cone Of Silence On Enforcement News From U.S. Labor Department – Apparently there are those out there in charge who fear the exchange of ideas and information. Some countries like North Korea, Russia and Iran control what information goes out to the public masses because they fear that information may cause independent thought, discussion and then lead to change. Change scares narrow minded people. The U.S. Department of Labor, including OSHA has become silent. No news on companies behaving badly and their violations and fines. I personally don’t understand the silence and fear and am very disappointed as one of the best things in this country is the freedom to speak your mind. But just because OSHA has become deaf and dumb doesn’t mean you do too! Keep treating your workers with respect and give them a safe place to work. It will benefit you in the long run. NEVER KEEP QUIET ABOUT SAFETY for the life you save may be your own.
Until next month, be kind to each other and be safe.
Hey, did you do it? Come on you can tell me. Did you really change the batteries in your smoke/carbon monoxide detectors this past Sunday? No! What are you waiting for?