You do everything you can to protect your employees at the workplace. You take all the necessary steps by beginning with a hazard analysis to identify potential dangers and eliminate them, you buy the best and latest styles in PPE so employees will wear them, you make housekeeping a priority and keep a neat and organized facility that looks professional and reduces trips and falls. You have training classes and drills for any emergency whether medical, natural or man-made that you may encounter, keeping everyone prepared so they know what to do to survive. You have weekly tailgate/toolbox meetings and a monthly safety meeting on a consistent basis. With all this effort and energy put into keeping your employees safe as you all try to walk down the “Green Brick Road of Safety”, is there really anything else that can be done to enhance their safety? Yes, there is one more thing you can add that will help immensely and it’s staring right at you in the mirror. It’s called Coaching/Leadership. I will be using the term coach/coaching for convenience but you can just as well use leader/leadership. After working for a company where shift managers were called coaches and workers were called players along with my love of sports, I happen to like the term “coach” much better.
The Golden State Warriors won the NBA Championship with basically the same personnel on the floor they had when they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs a year earlier. They had assembled the talent and components needed to win and lord knows they had the fan base. The only significant change to the team from last season was the coach and his staff. You know the results, Steve Kerr (pictured above) earned his first NBA Championship and I’m here to say to you, you can have the greatest player in the world on your team, but without great coaching/leadership your team won’t achieve the goal.
That’s why coaching goes well beyond training. When training an employee you are teaching them a specific skill set, a routine or procedure like how to drive a forklift, how to properly lift a box, or how to handle a liquid spill. However when coaching you’re building people into great employees by communicating positive feedback on performance improving their self-esteem, building confidence and increasing their knowledge so they are successful at accomplishing their assigned tasks and goals. I believe the seasoned operator knows his machine better than anyone else, in fact some really good ones know just by the sound how well it’s running. Some companies allow only maintenance personnel to make adjustments or change overs on machinery. I find this can waste time as maintenance personnel can often be tied up on several planned projects while trying to put out many fires. We were allowed to experiment on our shift since I wouldn’t shut-up about it and by allowing the machine operators to make those adjustments and change overs to their machines we experienced an increase in our production numbers and a drastic reduction in down time. The workers were given an opportunity to have a voice and feel good about being part of the solution and that happens when the coach listens.
Coaching corrects behavior or performance issues without the threat of punishment which should only be used as a last resort. A coach sets the standard of ethics and morals that everyone in the facility will be following when it comes to safety, performance, professionalism and how to treat and respond to each other. A coach sets the level of tolerance for infractions and consequences geared to help the employee improve not just fail again. A coach does not allow employees to engage in horseplay or distracting behavior of any kind while working but gives time to talk and provides a means to blow off steam and reward their efforts. A coach is an advocate for their employees and shows them, “Yes, they can do it” when helping them learn a new skill and improving their ability to earn more income and a coach makes sure they themselves always sets an example for all.
As in any sport or job a coach makes sure you’re prepared for the upcoming match and ready to execute the game plan with the man power, equipment and supplies required. A coach begins each work day with a morning huddle to keep you informed, focused and motivated so you’re confident to; elevate your level of performance. A good coach knows that they need to counsel employees in private, praise them in public, brag about them to the upper brass and to engage staff, listen to their feedback which can result in growth and continuous improvement for them as well as yourself. Above all a great coach knows to always say thank you for a job well done.
A coach creates and sustains a culture and atmosphere that is conducive for learning and where employees can feel free to ask questions and freely engage in the exchange of ideas on workplace safety, improved equipment maintenance or in obtaining better production results without fear of ridicule. I’ve seen the other side of the coin in one plant I worked. The department manager couldn’t figure out why we were having certain production issues and never bothered to engage the staff or listen as he would shoot down every idea as “stupid” or “that’ll never work” and then dismissed everyone by putting them down like they were idiots. He never could see the answers because he closed off communication and began to blame others for the problems. It was killing moral, production was dropping, sick calls increased and it made for a bad situation which led to bickering between him and other department managers that were also affected right on the production floor for everyone to watch.
A coach delivers timely tailgate/toolbox meetings, interesting monthly safety meetings that involves the staff in presentations. The coach should almost always direct his team from the playing field itself and not issue commands entrenched in an office behind their desk. A coach knows they need to be on the floor so they can encourage, critique, answer questions as well as observe and document the good along with the bad to develop and offer obtainable goals and objectives to help you grow and retain these employees you’ve developed but even then there is no guarantee they’ll stay as great head coaches from successful NFL teams tend to spawn future head coaches for other NFL teams. That in itself can be very satisfying.
Whether you are a manufacturer of red ruby slippers or a flying monkey pet food distributor while you lead your company down the “Green Brick Road of Safety” and the Scarecrow forgets to wear his PPE, or the Tin Man has a hazardous liquid spill or the Lion frets about training on a new piece of equipment and the accident prone Wicked Witch creates havoc on the shop floor, don’t bother looking for the man behind the screen as you can always spot the coach on the floor. They’re the one looking cool, collected, assessing the situation, reassuring and encouraging everyone and keeps things going without so much as skipping a beat. So you see the COACH is the glue.
When the opportunity presented itself for us to visit a foreign land, we immediately said yes! Taking a trip overseas is so cool since first, it gives you the chance to bore and torture family members and friends with daily posts and pictures on facebook of your travels accompanied with cute anecdotes on interactions with the locals! Second and also the best reason, it’s a fantastic opportunity to meet new people in a different setting, who have a different culture and use a different language. When our trip to Spain finally came to an end, what struck me the most was that there is really no difference between us. Except for language, they are people just like us, with the same hopes, dreams, and desires. They are cab drivers hustling for fares, wait staff hovering and taking orders, teachers leading classes, bankers and students all using buses, cars and mopeds to and from work. As an Italian tour guide one told me several years ago on my expectations in Rome, which also applies in Spain and France, “It’s not better, it’s not worse, it’s just different.”
After several days of eating my way through Spanish tapas joints and watching the teams of chefs operate, the epiphany hit and no it wasn’t the baby eel. The key to achieving success is the same here as the U.S. and in the world –teamwork. I noticed the differences between a truly GREAT Tapas bar and a so-so tapas bar had a lot to do with the level of teamwork, execution and communication within the group. It wasn’t just the great quality and amazing flavors of the food that made the experience, it was the entire process, full of energy and precision that was awesome to watch, especially for a productivity geek like me! The skill of people flowing along effortlessly: menus, translations, taking orders, food preparation, food distributed, drinks, constant clearing and replacement of dirty plates and new utensils distributed, final check in, clean up and then reset the area for the next customers and all along the constant communication between all the associates as they executed each task flawlessly. Again, and again, over and over, repeating the process happily, energetically and always engaging without skipping a beat. Those were also the places that had long lines of people eagerly waiting their seat like at Tapas 24. Those places with short waits didn’t have the same energy and coordination. It shows you the importance of that very precious commodity you have, your staff.
In this day and age of computerization, digital scanning, smart phones, robotics and other electronic assistants we have developed a false sense that these systems are actually keeping us in touch with the pulse of the company in real time. In actuality, it’s the people performing the tasks, your companies biggest asset who are the pulse of the company. They execute the process, take the orders, produce the product and complete the servicing. So peel off that layer of tronics and ditch your electronic umbilical cord and make the time to walk the floor. Visit the workers and engage in face to face verbal exchange with these people. Visit when they’re on the production line, visit when they’re receiving on the dock, visit when they’re cleaning and then listen, listen, listen to their ideas, their perceived roadblocks and suggestions for improvement. They are the team and when you give them the proper tools, proper training, realistic expectations and also ensure they are protected with proper PPE and safety policies you can create a business people would be willing to wait on a long line to experience.
Wow! Where did the year go people? Time sure does fly when you’re having fun and busy as many of you have been and are now. Busy making lists of gifts to buy, busy planning menus making sure you have dishes for vegans, gluten free and the traditional meat and potatoes. Many companies are also still busy making sure they are producing enough product for the store shelfs and online deals. Food companies are also cranking out products to make sure you have everything you need to bake and cook or just buy it already made. Yes, they’re in full production mode pushing workers, forcing over time and making sure they’re goals are made to keep consumers happy. Unfortunately when people are pushed, they get tired and tired people make mistakes, have lapses in judgement and become susceptible to injury. When temporary employees are pushed into a job without proper training and supervision they make mistakes too but unfortunately don’t always get to learn from theirs since they usually die. There is no reason for this to happen and that is why I bring you another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.
OSHA cites Tyson Foods, proposes $121,720 in fines for workplace safety hazards at Buffalo, NY, production plant – PREVENTABLE – Tyson Foods safety inspection was conducted through the OSHA’s Site Specific Targeting Program, which directs enforcement resources to high-hazard workplaces with the highest rates of injuries and illnesses. This was apparently justified by the number of repeat violations they found in falls, electrocution, burns and lack of LOTO. Like Tyson used to say, It’s what your family deserves.
Ore. Meat Company Fined for Safety Violations – PREVENTABLE – Springfield Meat Company probably thought they were so smart saving money when they didn’t bother replacing the safety guard on the tenderizing machine for two years. Now it cost them $7850 in a fine plus medical bills for the employee who received 60 stitches thanks to that money saving idea. This is when the owner and management should be fined or jailed for purposely putting people in harms way.
Landscaper fined by OSHA in stump-grinding death – PREVENTABLE – Someone at Urban Tree Service thought it would be a great idea to shorten the cord length for the remote control to the stump grinder, thus bringing the operator closer to the machinery while it was in use. This resulted in the death of Matthew Morasse who was just trying to do his job and make a living. Any modifications done to any piece of equipment should be handled by the equipment company manufacturer representatives and then damn well make sure your employees are aware of these modifications. They really like to go home to their families at the end of the day.
OSHA cites Missoula auto shop for 9 violations in worker’s death – PREVENTABLE – This is a really sad story. Bruce Hall went to work that day like every other. It was going to be at hot day with low humidity and he probably was thinking about a cold shower that night at home while pouring lacquer from a barrel into a smaller container through a funnel when the fumes exploded. The shop didn’t have appropriate grounding or bonding for the flammable liquids with a flashpoint below 100 degrees Fahrenheit and probably always had it that way, until luck ran out.
Wind plant workers air safety concerns – PREVENTABLE – Employees at the TPI Composites plant in Newton, Iowa had to complain about safety hazards to OSHA. Could it have been motivated by the 10 violations OSHA found in 2012 or the 6 found this year? It’s obvious that the company is not very good at listening and responding to employee concerns or about workers losing fingers, otherwise the employees wouldn’t have felt the need to go to OSHA and look at obtaining additional workplace safety protection by joining a union. Companies make it so much harder than it has to be, just listen to your workers!
Ferdo Refrigeration Cited After Follow-up Inspection – PREVENTABLE – Companies complain about too much government intervention yet then go and temp fate by not bothering to correct any of the violations OSHA found in an earlier inspection. Why you want to be under the microscope for allegedly exposing your workers to fires, explosions, falls, and chemical hazards and then leaving them unable to exit the workplace quickly in an emergency is just beyond me. Give your employees the tools they need to do their job and they will be successful and make you successful. It’s better than hoping no one gets hurt, crossing your fingers no one is killed and waiting to be caught by OSHA.
Warehouse safety blitz coming to Ontario – INFO – Warehouse managers operating in our neighbor to the north, Canada don’t say you weren’t warned. Applause to the Ontario Ministry of Labour for taking a proactive stance in protecting workers.
BREAKING: Wal-Mart faces warehouse horror allegations and federal Labor Board complaint – UPDATE – They sure have had their share of press lately. Their television ads portray a caring, nurturing company that’s great to work for, yet headline after headline says different. You can also read another recent article about Walmart and it’s practices in Betraying Public Trust For A Few Dollars More: Walmart. There is nothing wrong with finding deals and good prices, but a companies ethics are also something important to consider.
Hours Of Service Will Affect Warehouse Operations And Networks Too – INFO – How HOS affects your operation. Something to be aware of.
OSHA no match for workplace dangers that kill thousands – ARTICLE – This is a great article by Randy Lee Loftis of the Dallas News on OSHA’s challenges. It is worth taking the time to read.
That brings another episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close. We are each as unique as snowflakes as no two humans are the same. We each have our own quirks, likes, mannerisms and ways of thinking which makes us different. Not better, not worse, just different. Appreciate the differences and respect life. Become a safety advocate and speak up when you observe unsafe conditions. You don’t have to put up with it and don’t assume the next guy will take care of it.
Later this month I have a new series on workplace safety debuting, Aunt Ida’s Recipes For Disaster. Check out the story below and hope you come back to check out the recipes.
So I’ve been busy with a new client implementing a 5S program when… o.k., I was really cleaning and organizing the garage for my longest and dearest client, my wife. I was put into service when she asked me to practice what I get paid to preach. My attention became focused on a stack of boxes that contained many different artifacts such as kindergarden child art and tax records of 1996 when I happened upon an old wooden box that was full of recipes. They were all hand written on sheets of notepaper that had faded and turned yellow with age. What I found was astounding since I thought Aunt Ida’s recipes for a disaster where long lost. I can’t wait to share them with all of you and sharing is something I will be doing in the next coming months beginning some time this December.
Each recipe is crafted and written so they can be professionally executed by the beginner as well as the expert. You don’t want to miss any of these classic recipes for a disaster so make sure to sign up, just click on the email box on the right, to get witzshared via email each time a new episode is available.
UPDATE-We received mail the one day. The next day the USPS took the box out of service again. Unfortunately Supervisor of Customer Service Patricia Burton is off today, (see never called back) and Customer Service Supervisor Javier is in today and has yet returned a call either, left a message with someone there who answered. By the way, NONE of them have voicemail. What does that tell you.
At the time of the publishing of this article, it would have been day 80 (not counting Sundays) that the Mitchell Court 12 have not had a mail delivery. Our cluster mailbox that served this community faithfully since 1984 was vandalized on June 6 and it has remained unrepaired since. (You can get caught up on the previous doings by reading USPS Killer Customer Service is Killing the Message.) However we finally got mail yesterday, September 9th after the Post office received much pressure from our Congressman and angry public. It turns out there are several vandalized unrepaired mailboxes throughout Vallejo. What is disappointing is the USPS lied. After making us wait for 79 days for a new mailbox, that’s what they kept saying was taking so long, they just did a simple repair on the old mailbox to get everyone off their back. It was like being told you’ll get a new smartphone to replace your broken one and just given back the same phone with duck tape holding it together. So why did the USPS take so long to get it together? Why did it take 3 months for this fix? I guess we’ll never know since there has been no communication from the USPS at all so we’re left to make up our own scenarios. The few tidbits they have given us were lies just to make us go away and stop interrupting their siestas. How can there be trust when a organization lies to the face of the public?
The main problem as with most dysfunctional corporations is their lack of leadership and with the current incompetent management at the helm there is no way the USPS 94589 will ever be able to resolve their profit making issues let alone find ways to improve their service levels because they’re happy with giving below par service. Except in the area of express mail, they have no competition to cause them to give good service, so their attitude remains, too bad. It begins with their current leader Mr. Sam Jones who does not return phone calls or initiated any conversation with the public as to a expected completion date to have the mailbox repaired. In fact Mr. Jones didn’t return phone calls from Congressman Thompson’s office either. He has no concept that just a simple sorry and we’ll fix it by this date could have avoided the animosity from the people of this town. He could have come himself or sent a customer service representative to the neighborhood to demonstrate in any way that they cared about what was going on and what they were going to do. In fact Mr. Jones has been so successful in teaching his ways, that all his supervisors don’t return phone calls either but will tell you to your face they will follow up like Supervisor of Customer Service Patricia Burton.
The USPS spent $126 million for culture change and leadership to Campbell Ewald in FY 2011 and another $125 million to Accenture for management consulting and technology. Either the Post Office was ripped off or their leadership just plain refuses to change. They still talk down to customers, have very poor communications skills and when it’s time to think out side the box are as lost as a sightless person in a dark movie theatre. They insist they can’t make improvements unless Congress gives them permission to do so, but based on their lack of abilities so far to improve with what they can control, I say Congress is very astute this time not to turn it over to them. How can you trust an organization to turn itself around when they don’t demonstrate the competence in what they’re doing now? The best solution is just abolish the organization and turn it over to private enterprise with real leaders and real managers who care and understand service.
My free advice to the USPS to save money on leadership development and other customer service related training. I have three blogs for you that are FREE and strongly recommend that you actually read them. 1- http://cranstonholden.com/ 2- . http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/ and 3-http://www.squawkpoint.com/ Have you had similar service issues with the USPS? Please share here or privately in an email. Thanks.
It is now day 63 (not counting sundays and holiday) that the Mitchell Court dozen have not had mail delivery. In a previous post, USPS Killer Customer Service- Is Killing the message I told about how our community cluster mail box was vandalized and how I went through the system offered by the USPS for consumers with problems and how not unlike the USPS is ineffective and a waste of money as the problem has still not be fixed.
This should be alarming to all of you as one of the suggestions put forth by the USPS to save money is to eliminate door to door delivery and set up cluster boxes for everyone. Good idea to put in place, but what good is an idea that has no contingency plan that leaves customers without service for over 2 months? This is a glaring example of the lack of leadership/management at the USPS. A great opportunity to put their best foot forward and show the community they care by resolving an issue and they take the need to know basis for their attitude. Imagine all these cluster boxes left damaged across the country and the caos that would come with no mail delivery. So I use my car more often than I want, paying for more gas then I would use so I can make the 7 mile round trip and wait on line to pick up my mail. The only thing that would make this more surrealistic would to see a checker board set up by the pot bellied stove.
I also wrote my congressman, the honorable Mike Thompson back in June. It took only one and a half months to hear back from his office from a spunky aide who asked, “Is it fixed yet?” I guess all the business they’re handling in Washington has made this a very low priority for Mike. He too could have been a hero to us his constituents but then why would I expect any more from him than the USPS.
But then it dawned on me maybe this idiocracy is only at 94589 and has not spread across the country and there is hope to contain and correct it here. So please, write me in the comments section below with your USPS customer service horror stories.
When I say, inept, mismanaged, archaic, thinking like dinosaurs, behind the times, unimaginative, stuck to the old way, couldn’t think outside the box even if they were litery standing outside the box what quasi government agency comes to mind? For me it’s the United States Postal Service. Now I know It is easy to poke fun at this agency especially with such great characters you love to hate like Cliff Clavin and Newman, but it’s hard to laugh when they lost 15.9 BILLION dollars last fiscal year. It’s also hard to laugh when they make strides to improve mail delivery but have NO clue on customer service. If they were a real company in todays world, would they even still be in business? No they wouldn’t, because their culture of secrecy, poor customer relations and ability to communicate to the public won’t allow them to make improvements since so many of their inept, lazy managers are threatened by making service improvements and might actually have to think for a change.
When I read about the voice of the customer and how companies monitor that voice to make sure they keep customers happy, the USPS uses deafness and silence as their voice of the customer. I guess it’s much easier to monitor and you can always look good on your benchmarks when you don’t hear the public. There is no incentive to listen since they couldn’t care less and have no fear of losing their jobs. In light of the money they keep losing, someone hit upon the idea that without communication or returning a simple phone call they’ll save money like the supervisor at the Vallejo main post office who took the time to write down my name, address and phone number, promised to call and I never heard from him again. Dollars saved, what a great idea, why hasn’t GM or Apple thought of that?
I live on a Cul-de-sac and our community mailbox that services 12 families was vandalized and rendered unusable. You can see that both back service doors are dangling. This happened on June 6th. and that is when this odyssey began, of trying to get information from the USPS but you would think our community mailbox was involved with national security they’re so tight lipped. First I went to the main post office on Santa Clara street and asked the clerk when it’ll be repaired. She couldn’t answer and referred me to a supervisor whom I waited 15 minutes for. As I said earlier he took all my info and never called back. So I tried calling the main post office and they don’t answer that line and there must be no voice mail since it never picked up, again saving money.
So I contacted the Postal Service Customer Advocate at 1-800-275-8777 who are in Washington, D.C. on June 12. They agreed it was poor service and gave me case #CA113468629 and someone would get back to me tomorrow. Yea right, but you know I wasn’t surprised because when you call the 1-800 line, the receptionist bot that answers has a lousy menu to start with and when you say or type your zipcode, it came up, with a male voice who said, “94589, Viejo, Ca.” The problem is I live in 94589,Vallejo, Ca. So on June 14 I called my Advocate to see if they were still advocating for me. I gave her the case number and guess what? They had nothing! So she gave me the number at the Main, main Post Office in Oakland, for the Customer Relations at 510-874-8737. I called and promptly got their voicemail. As the machine had requested I gave name, address, phone number and the issue along with the case number, and this was early in the day. As of today, June 17 I hadn’t heard back and called again and got a LIVE PERSON. I discussed with her the issue and that I would like to have some answers. Oh Yes, I can see why, She said, I’ll call you back, but this time Regina did call me back!! She told me she spoke to supervisor Taylor at the Vallejo Post Office who explained that they only had ONE technician and that it won’t be repaired until next week, but couldn’t give a specific completion date.
What a lousy cheap excuse. Only one technician. The manager here should be embarrassed with an answer like that. You mean there is NO provision to contact other districts to see if they could borrow another tech for a short period? I guess it’s very hard to think when you’re stuck in all that secrecy. Can you imagine a fire district saying, we have only one engine on duty and not call a neighboring city for assistance? Even the cable company offers better service. So my neighbors and I will be without a mail box for a total of 21 days, figuring they’ll fix it by June 29 as projected and continue making the 7 mile round trip to the main post office. The drive time is nothing, it’s the wait time on line just to get your mail that they are so graciously holding for us at no charge. What a great group. And that’s why this maze to go through to get some answers. They hope over time you’ll get tired and stop.
This is where the USPS drops the ball in their culture of lack of customer service. What good is getting packages and mail delivered on time when you have no place to deliver it? There wasn’t even an attempt to notify affected customers as to what was going on, what the plan was, and when it would be completed. They couldn’t send a representative to visit us, do handouts, communicate in anyway that they cared and would be held accountable? This is a big reflection on not only the workers but the poor managers they have running the asylum since the workers only do what management lets them do. It’s time to re-organize the Post office into independent operated districts and a thorough cleaning of the old management. Bringing in entrepreneurs to operate the new postal districts will make it 100% better than now.
I will keep you all posted, (haha) as this odyssey continues.