The Company Civil War

 

goodtobeking

Everyone wants to think they’re in charge.  Some sales and marketing departments think they’re in charge.  Some think manufacturing is in charge and some think purchasing and supply chain is in charge.

In the vast city known as Candy-Land (protecting the real company name) there existed but only three gangs who had divvy-up the city and totally controlled it.  All three not only ruled their territories with tyrannical deceit and ruthlessness but were often at war with each other at one time or another.  If only the feuds were about something constructive but always more personal between the gang leaders then anything else.  There was one gang known as Creations and they were ruthless but more civilized of the three in their approach.  Their mission was to make the “product” and dry it before transporting the product to the bins.

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The other two gangs were constantly at each other’s throats with skirmishes popping up a few times a week not so much from the gang members hating each other, they did but the leaders despised each other.  The leader of the gang called the Wrappers was Pete the sweet a very ugly, short and vulgar man.  Across town, where the gang the DC ruled their leader, Raoul who was tall, muscular and good looking spoke softly since he was a former boxer and often let his fists carry the conversation.  As I said, the two didn’t get along at all and were constantly in full-blown shouting matches right in full view of everyone mano y mano.

The Wrappers were an interesting bunch.  They would take the dried product from the bins and get it ready for transport to the buyers by packaging it in nice colorful paper of all sizes from one pound boxes to 100 pounds bags to attract as many buyers as possible.  Pete the sweet had illusions of grandeur as he believed he could tell people in the other gangs what to do or how to do it so it wouldn’t affect his gang in their quest to meet packaging goals and his bonus.  This interference enraged the other leaders but really angered Raoul no end who may have taken a punch to many as he believed he should be in charge of all the territories.

The games afoot:

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When the DC was having problems with the ASRS (read The Company Hostage) and stopped the putaway of pallets of packaged product into storage this enraged Pete the sweet as having people standing around drove him crazy.  So he decided to go to the DC and tell them how to fix the problem and get it going.  He huffed and he puffed, he threatened and he intimidated, but it all fell on deaf ears since we were already busy doing what we needed to do.  It was easy to ignore him since Raoul had told us earlier to ignore Pete and then call to update him but what really made it easy was our gang really didn’t like the Wrappers so when he went directly to the workers they took pleasure in ignoring him as well and made Pete even angrier when he heard, you’re not my boss.

On the off shifts, when Pete wasn’t around had instructed his lieutenants to climb out of their trees and confront us on what was happening in the DC every time the packaging lines stopped.  We ignored them too or just outright lied on how long it would be down just to really send them into a frenzy as they then had to call and wake Pete at home to update him and he wasn’t so sweet.  He would call the ASRS room where of course they also ignored him but more because they were busy working to get the system back up and running.

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There was no team building going on here unless you want to call telling your gang to ignore the leaders of other gangs team building.  I watched as lots of walls were erected between departments as each was surrounded in its own secrecy and not daring to allow anyone else to know their plans for that day, week or month all within the same plant.  The current owners, an investment company, still searching for a buyer had no idea how to handle the situation and didn’t want to invest let alone lose any more money and sent out this one and only in edict in early October as production numbers took a dive, “work things out”.

As with a lot of other companies, the holidays, Thanksgiving thru Christmas were our biggest season for sales, so much so to keep up with the orders we had to begin to produce and stockpile inventory right after labor day in September or we’d never meet the demand and lose sales.  For some reason, each gang leader interrupted the edict from the owner as giving them the authority to be in charge to get things done which turned ugly later in the month.

The day started like any other day.  A quick huddle with my crew and we laid out several scenarios that could happen and how we would respond.  We had spent the weekend clearing out a large storage area in the back of the facility where we could stack pallets of product in the event of the ASRS going down.  The holidays were on the horizon and sales and marketing people were loudly crying about not enough product out in the stores.  We were all trying.  The Creations were having issues cooking up the product, The Wrappers had packaging machine issues and the DC had the ASRS.  We were literally holding things together with chewing gum, baling wire, and duct tape.

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As fate would have it our luck and the duct tape didn’t hold out.  Something fell from a pallet jamming the conveyor in the ASRS and snapping the drive chain and taking out a license plate reader.  The DC gang began moving the product by forklift as fast as we could but the hallway that led to the makeshift storage area was narrow and we couldn’t go very fast but we were keeping the factory going.  Raoul came to assess the situation and told the palletizers to slow down so we could keep up with the product coming out and take it to storage.  Emergency repairs to the ASRS were beginning but we knew it’d be down for the day if not longer.  Raoul also knew it was going to be a long day and as he had done before and one of the reasons I liked him had pizza delivered to feed his gang as we were in constant motion to keep the other gangs happy and busy as well.

Pete the sweet was having none of it.  He didn’t care what was happening in the DC and that we were making every effort to keep the factory going.  He didn’t like the palletizers were slowed and even though the packaging was able to continue it wasn’t at the pace Pete wanted.  Pete only cared about Pete and how all this was personally directed at him.  He believed what happened was only intended to hurt him and him alone.  He didn’t care whether the company made the goal or not, he didn’t care for training or safety either and was known to order others to cut corners on safety.  If they got away with it he applauded them for their ingenuity but if they got caught he’d throw them under the bus.  Yet his gang knew in order to survive in the Wrappers you had to do what he wanted or suffer the consequences with abuse and bullying.

The showdown finally came, right there in the middle of the facility.  Pete and Raoul face to face yelling, screaming, cursing and threatening each other.  Pete loudly criticized Raoul for buying pizza, not a time to eat!  Raoul disagreed and told Pete he didn’t have to defend his actions to anyone let alone a little dictator.  The louder they got the more people from all the gangs lined the floor, the mezzanine, and the rafters until it looked and sounded like a sell out crowd at a Golden State Warriors game with various shouts of encouragement from the crowd.  Hit him!  Don’t take that crap, Pete!  Punch him out, Raoul.  The cheers, the chants, the calls for blood, if I didn’t know better I could have been at the Colosseum in Rome watching gladiators.  We could see that Raoul was getting ready to end the conversation and let his fists speak.  There was no production going on at all.

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Finally, another lieutenant from the DC and myself decided to end this and jumped between the two combatants and while Carl began trying to calm down Pete while he backed him up I was pleading with our leader, Raoul to take this discussion to an office, in private.  The adrenalin was surging through my body and my heart racing as I started to think of things to say and babbled, You’re better than this. You don’t want to hit him here there are too many witnesses.  At one point in desperation, I supposedly said to him, the pizza is getting cold, I don’t remember this with all the excitement going on but it actually made him stop, look at me and brought a smile to his face as he caught his composure.  He chuckled and said, You’re right Phil, the pizza is getting cold and we walked to his office.

It took a day and a half before the ASRS was fully operational and even then still continued with the usual ups and downs.  With the efforts and hard work of staff, we were able to meet most of the demand with some late shipments going out at discounted rates as make it up to the customers for previous short shipments.  Raoul and Pete continued their feud and that alone was more of a disruption to the plant than any equipment failures.  It even became more difficult for the Superintendents and forepeople to manage the day to day activities not knowing what would break down next.  Sick calls increased and people just didn’t want to come to work and I can’t say I blame them but now, that all didn’t matter as rumors of a new buyer for the plant began to swirl and we could all feel the change in the air.

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RBMB – Non Profit Safety

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My Thursday thoughts for National Safety Month.  It Really Burns My Butt when I read about a tragedy like this and decided to do something about it.
Any workplace tragedy is just heartbreaking for everyone involved, the company, fellow workers, friends and the family most of all.  However when it occurs at a non-profit organization struggling to meet commitments to the community it can be a large financial loss they can’t afford.  Not enough can be said about the critical role non-profit organizations play in this day and age.  They can mean the difference between life and death for people whether the aid comes in the aftermath of a natural disaster, in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables or just helping the less fortunate get a hot meal and place to sleep.  They operate like a real company usually having a director, board members, various levels of supervision, a mission statement but don’t make a profit and heavily rely on public monetary donations and the of thousands of hours of contributed labor by volunteers to keep them going.  With the seasonality and turnover in volunteers sometimes it difficult to keep track of people and training. 
When I read  Goodwill fined more than $100K after worker’s gruesome death and how Abraham Nicholas Garza, 26, died on September 30, 2016 when his head was crushed during the operation of a trash compactor.  A fellow worker witnessed the whole grisly scene play out.  The Cal/OSHA investigation found several violations and issued fines totaling $106,675 which will unfortunately take a bite out of their budget.  The most serious violation being willful-serious meaning the employer was aware of a hazardous condition and didn’t bother to take reasonable steps to address it.  Per Cal/OSHA’s report, “None of the authorized employees including Garza were provided training in the safe operation of the compactors at the front and back loading dock areas”.  Reminds me of the late 60’s when I worked in a supermarket and the only training was watching the other guy operate it, if he’d let you.  How many of you remember business coming to a stand still because “the guy” was not there and no one else knew how too adjust and operate it?
The lack of training for volunteers is a serious issue and more widespread then you think.  I had volunteered to working in the warehouse for a local food bank where I spent my time sorting out the contents of food donation barrels as well as packaging bags of fresh fruits and vegetables for distribution.  I was looking forward to seeing what and how they did their training but the only training received my entire time there was watching a video explaining that canned goods and other non-perishable food items can be accepted up to a year after the printed expiration date.  The info was good to know and then I waited with anticipation on the next video on safety, would it be one I’ve seen before or even used myself to show employees.  Alas, there was no training on what to do in the event of a earthquake or other emergency.  There was no training on where the evacuation assembly area was located.  There were no evacuation route signs posted. The sign in sheet that was kept in the warehouse was the only official way they knew who was there and for how long each day.  That was good but in the event of a fire or earthquake this information would NOT be accessible or available for the first responders.  This warehouse was like all others with steel racking but the empty donation barrels were stacked in rows, 6 high along a wall in the warehouse.  The wall of barrels was tagged with sporadic strips of packing tape across two or three barrels like this would hold it together in the event of an earthquake.  These barrels would topple and come down hard injuring and trapping anyone nearby
Unfortunately that’s the situation of the non-profits today, with a lack of proper training and leadership with little to no real expertise and experience in the industry while having to wear several hats and simultaneously dealing with a vast number of volunteers.  If you don’t have the experience it’s difficult to keep track of what training is needed and who’s received it and must be done to protect everyone in the facility since even in a non-profit warehouse, dedicated to helping others, needs to remember that they will at one time or another will be ground zero and the emergency.  We all know all to well that it’s very easy to sit back and criticize an operation for it’s faults so that’s why in the spirit of National Safety Month, I am offering my services and experience in workplace safety free of charge to any non-profit within a 25 mile radius of my home, Vallejo, California.  Together we will identify hazards and you’ll learn how to make a plan to mitigate them so all volunteers can work in your facility and not worry about their safety.
Safety is not fun or glamorous but it does impact lives.  Be a safety mentor.

Just Putting It Out There – Leadership The Glue That Binds it All.

Luke Walton & Steve Kerr

Luke Walton & Steve Kerr

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.

Bruce Bochy - S.F. Giants

Bruce Bochy – S.F. Giants

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. 

Golden State Warriors - 2014-2015 NBA Champions

Golden State Warriors – 2014-2015 NBA Champions

 

Just Putting It Out There – People Are Assets

             Witzshared

Witzshared

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.”

 

Tapas 24, Barcelona, Spain

Tapas 24, Barcelona, Spain

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.

          witzshared.com

witzshared.com

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.

 

Companies Behaving Badly – December

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.

Why The USPS Can’t Change It’s Ways

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.

cluster mailbox on Mitchell Ct. 94589

cluster mailbox on Mitchell Ct. 94589

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.

Idiocracy Rules at U.S.P.S. 94589

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.