Companies Behaving Badly-Integrity

Integrity: firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : incorruptibility

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Welcome back.

When I attended kindergarten, many many years ago, we were taught the golden rule and to respect others and if you disagreed with an editorial or had an issue with customer service you had to sit down, write or type a letter that usually contained way more than 140 characters, stuff it in and address an envelope, place a stamp on it and then drop it off in a mail box or at the Post office.  Reactions to issues or comments were not instantaneous.  However, long before you’d get to the letter writing stage we used to do another thing that has been long lost and forgotten, we had a discussion.  Yep, good old fashion face to face, sit down or stand up conversation as we would confront the issue by discussing it with real facts to make our point.  The win wasn’t as important as was making your point with truthful and reliable information.  Since  we respected each other whether we agreed or not we could always come to some type of conclusion, either forming a consensus by taking the good points from both sides to solve the issue or we’ll discuss this again later but for now we agree to disagree and yet still be friends.  No yelling, no screaming, no hatred.  Back then, even two old men sitting on a park bench, with one a Bronx Yankee fan discussing with the other, a Brooklyn Dodger fan who had the better players without fists being thrown. 

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Somewhere along the line, as we embraced new technologies into our daily lives to help us work easier, get entertainment faster and communicate better, the art of discussion along with respect for others opinions and integrity in general, got lost.  We’re even going full circle on how we communicate.  Over 2000 years ago Egyptian hieroglyphics was the rage but we moved to the spoken and written word and now emojis speak to our thoughts and emotions.  I’ve read all kinds of articles and theories on why this has changed and some make more sense then others but as I see it, there are many reasons. However the one I believe has the biggest impact is the loss of the golden rule.  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you somehow became Do unto others before they do it to you.  Companies that once took pride in their workforce were now more concerned more with profit then the human condition.  If someone lost a limb or their life getting that one extra widget made, well that’s just the cost of doing business.  A driver has a terrible wreck on the freeway because of all the hours he had to put in to get a load delivered, oh well, the cost of doing business.  With the push for profits, the focus for profits and living for profits shut down communication from the shop floor to Corporate headquarters, because corporate didn’t want to hear any excuses as to why quotas weren’t being made and profits were down.  Like a old Chicago gangland boss asking why this weeks take is so light.  We’re not skimming of the top boss, honest, it was all the bribes, protection and transportation costs that cut into the profits.  Down time, injuries, training, maintenance, all just excuses as to why we didn’t make enough profit.  There was no respect for the workers or their input and that created workers not respecting management.

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So what happens as no one respects your thoughts, listens or allows you to discuss safety conditions or better procedures to improve production.  Some just tune out and become work zombies.  They go through the motions each day with the same couldn’t care less attitude, just putting in my time to get a check.  Problem is zombies are still humans and when you check out the chances are greater you’ll get injured on the job.  Not good.  Some speak up and continue to try and engage management in conversation but those folks become branded as trouble makers, rebels and renegades.  They don’t appreciate that they have a job as we let them work here out of the goodness of our hearts.  The third group is the scariest.  They are the ones who become suddenly become quiet, making mental notes over time as they work of who’s against them like Madam Defarge knitting a list for the guillotine.   As the anger of not being listened too or taken seriously slowly builds, (no one gets back to you on the obvious safety issue), the pressure mounts over days, (that’s a really stupid idea), weeks, months, (I told you before, when I hear something about safety I’ll tell you. Now enough already) it builds until one day, a little innocent event (why is my paycheck wrong?) triggers the eruption of emotion and the outcome is almost always not good for anyone.

The kind of person, supervisor, parent you become is up to you.  You can only concentrate on profits and meeting your goals for that fat bonus and not care about the employees working conditions or make their goals.  You can have workers make up accounts, make up business, make up anything to justify the means to the end.  At one company we had a salesperson who always placed a large order for a customer the last day of the month. Each time the order came back, refused by the customer saying they didn’t order it.  The salesperson got his commission, as it was never taken away and the warehouse paid workers for the time it took to break it down and put it all back into inventory.  The fact the company let this go on told me a lot about the integrity of the company, there wasn’t any when it came to getting market share.  Like the boss had told us all before, he wanted to be the biggest pig at the trough and not share the market with anyone and I guess if that meant lying about orders, then heck yea!  They didn’t listen to me or care about what it cost the warehouse.  They didn’t listen to or care customer service who complained to the sales manager for the wasted time and angry customer.  No one cared about the little game until a new GM came to town.  Once the commission wasn’t paid any longer for this, the practice by this salesperson stopped and the sales manager was told, there’s the door if you don’t like it.  Honor and integrity restored and showed me how easy change can be, when the right people make honorable decisions.  

You can be the kind of person, supervisor, parent who concentrates on the whole big picture!  Listening to workers, getting back to them when you say you will and using their ideas to improve safety, productivity and equipment maintenance while treating everyone with respect.  By doing this you have planted a seed of communication that will bloom into open and honest conversation and you can even use an emoji or two to help get the point across. 

Hiring seasonal workers? Here’s what you need to know You probably are all ready in the middle of getting your seasonal workers on line.  Just remember since they are temporary workers don’t treat them as disposable items.  Make sure they get the training they need and most of all, this could be someone your company may want as a regular worker down the road.  Don’t scare them off or kill them off.

You may think that not clearly marking paths for pedestrians in your facility to keep them safe from forklifts and other moving equipment is a waste of time and money, think again.  Glass bottle makers Encirc fined £500,000 after plant worker hit by forklift Your employees are the biggest asset you have, protect it, and make your facility safe for everyone to operate in.

Dust can explode.  Yes, dust from any commercial business when produced in enough volume and the right spark can blow up a building.  OSHA: Cambria corn mill cited in 2011 for explosion hazards Make sure you have the proper ventilation and dust collection system to avoid these problems.  Anything that produces dust as a by product is a potential hazard even grains and sugar dust can be explosive.  

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Falls continues to be the number 1 violation and killer of people.  If falls were a disease, alien predator or serial killer we all would probably be more concerned.  So help us all and look at it as a disease, alien predator and serial killer since it is all of the above.  YOU can help stop the falls and you can do it with one simple word.  NO.  If you’re working over 6 feet from the ground and no fall protection is available so you can safely do the job, just say NO.

Until next month, never keep quiet about safety for the life you save may be your own.

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