An accident waiting to happen

In reading the industry news the other day I came across an item about a forklift driver that intentionally ran into a co-worker with the forklift and then pushed him, resulting in assault charges against the driver! Wow. What could’ve gone so wrong that this man felt the need to use a forklift as a weapon? Maybe we’ll never know. That got me thinking.
It’s not always easy to tell if and when an employee is struggling with an issue, regardless of whether it’s work-related or personal. Some people wear their emotions on their sleeve, while others hide behind the “everything’s fine” mask. And some hit a co-worker with a forklift.
So what can we do? People’s emotions and responses to stress, conflict, uncertainty, confusion, criticism, are things we can’t control. What we can control is our company’s culture; it’s the culture that sets the tone for the company and creates the working environment. If that culture is negative, it sabotages any good programs, services or support we try to provide to employees. It’s unhealthy; it leads to more stress, burnout, anger, turnover, less productivity, more absenteeism and higher health care costs.
Think about it. There are always deadlines, too much work and not enough time, and each person handles these things differently; some thrive on it and some wither; some welcome it and for some it’s a source of constant anger and frustration. Mix all of that together and you really can have an accident waiting to happen.
If only there was a magic formula, where we could wave our magic wand, chant some special incantation and POOF all would be good. No, this is one that takes work; a lot of it and it can’t be accomplished in a vacuum. There isn’t one right way to create a positive, healthy, productive workplace culture. No two places are the same. From the people, to the products and services, to the company’s size, to the company leaders – all of it influences the nature of the work environment. Creating a safe environment where diversity is respected, voices are heard, talents are appreciated and recognized, there is a balance between life and work and employees feel empowered doesn’t just happen. You and your team have to work at it – every day. As a leader, you need to make that happen. The rewards you reap in the long run are more than worth it.

Posted by MJ Thomas

How many hats do you wear?

For most of us, wearing more than “one hat” is pretty common practice these days.  We play multiple roles – both at work and in our personal lives – that require us to be butcher, baker, and candlestick maker along with about twenty other things at the same time. Trying to balance all of those hats can be overwhelming. What happens when that pile of hats gets to tall? It falls; leaving “hats” all over the place. So what’s a person to do?

Take control. Establish priorities and determine which of your tasks are the most important, what needs to get done first, what can wait, what’s negotiable. Put things into perspective and remember – priorities do not run horizontal and nobody said it would be easy.

Break things down to parts that are manageable; one step at a time and be realistic about expectations of time. Then do it! Take action. Why? When we let ourselves get overwhelmed, we get stuck. We spend so much time stressing out about all we have to do that we don’t do anything and that makes us more stressed and farther behind.

Lighten up. Laughter is a great stress reliever and it’s healthy. Sure what you are doing is serious business but allow yourself to take a breather, clear your head,  walk away from it for a little while, listen to music, sing, whatever. When you come back to it, you’ll be surprised at how much more productive you are.

Ask for help. Really? How many times did you need help but didn’t ask for it because you didn’t want others to think you couldn’t handle things; didn’t want them to think less of you? Not smart. We all need help from time to time. That’s just the way it is.

So next time you feel the tower of hats on your head starting to tilt, take control. You don’t want the Mad Hatter to think you’ve lost your “muchness."

Posted by MJ Thomas

Every day is a safety day

Did you ever see one of those calendars with all the special days listed on it? It seems like there’s a special month, week or day for just about anything you could imagine. Take today; not only is it Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, it’s also National Plum Pudding Day. Seriously, I couldn’t make that up.

At Sentry, we are in the business of safety – every day – continually providing and developing impact resistant products and collision warning systems to protect people, equipment and facilities. It’s what we should be doing. The focus on safety in the workplace isn’t confined to a special month, week or day – it’s an everyday thing. It’s that important. Expectations of working in a safe environment should be a given.

So, how do you make it work? You’re the designated Safety Coach in your organization. That role is probably one of a few that you juggle within the company; each one of them is a priority. The safety program can’t miss. It needs to be comprehensive and it needs to work. First, recognize you can’t do it by yourself. Great plans are not developed in a vacuum. Establish a team for support, perspective, insight, buy-in and implementation.

Next, you need a well thought out plan; a strategy; a road map to get you to your goal. Think about it; if you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.

A successful safety strategy requires specific elements. For example, what’s the overall goal; who will be in charge; what resources do you have; what obstacles do you face; who needs to know about it and how will they get the information; how do you measure it and what will success look like; how do you sustain the momentum? It’s like putting together a puzzle; if you don’t have all the pieces there’s a gaping hole in the picture. When it comes to safety, gaping holes are definitely not a good thing.

Safety is a process, not an event. It takes planning, hard work and an everyday focus. It’s that important and it’s worth it.

Now, how about some plum pudding?

Posted by MJ Thomas

Are you ready for the competition?

This Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday – the day that the top two teams in the National Football League compete for the coveted title of Super Bowl Champion.  It’s also the second largest day of US food consumption and the day when most people actually watch the commercials instead of running to the refrigerator for more snacks. But, I digress.

The operative word for today’s blog is competition; as some define it – the act or process of trying to get or win something that someone else is also trying to get or win. Look closely at the competition on the football field and you will definitely see the similarities to the competition you face every day in your business and personal life. There’s the good, the bad and sometimes, the ugly. Competition tends to bring out the best or worst in people. Do you know which one it brings out in your employees? You better because the outcomes and the differences can significantly impact your business.

At best competition fosters innovation, promotes growth, creativity and teamwork; makes us more goal-oriented, helps us understand our strengths and weaknesses and promotes taking chances and trying new things; exceeding expectations and achieving success. At its worst, it can bring out hostility, negative attitudes, jealousy and cause us to stay stuck from fear of failure. Practice the “winning at all costs” mentality and be prepared to reap what you sow.

So, you make the call. Which culture of competition do you want for your business? As a leader, it’s your responsibility to set the tone for your company. Competition isn’t going away; it’s just a matter of how you decide to handle it.

Now, let’s get ready for some football.

Posted by MJ Thomas