Friday, September 30, 2016

Safety for all seasons

We’re just about a week into fall and things are changing.  Days are getting shorter; the leaves on the trees are changing colors; the temperatures are cooler and the air is crisper; fall sports are in the spotlight; comfort foods are often top of mind and it’s sweater weather.  These things are seasonal; happening or needed during a certain time of year.  Each season has its own characteristics: things that are “normal” for that certain time of year and that includes safety risks.

While some safety issues are only applicable at certain times during the year, safety –  being safe, following safety procedures and always being aware of potential safety issues – should be a year-round, daily top-of-the-mind subject; especially in the workplace.

Safety in the workplace is not something that just happens; it is planned, implemented and practiced every day. It has to be for it to work. Every employee needs to take responsibility for it and that starts at the top. It is a priority, not something that can be placed on the back burner, not something that there’s no budget for or even an area where you can cut corners. Safety is more than a slogan on a wall poster. Set your safety standards high and make safe practices part of your company’s daily routine. People’s lives and livelihoods depend on it.

Posted by MJ Thomas

Friday, September 23, 2016

If it looks like a duck

and walks like a duck and sounds like a duck, chances are it’s probably a duck. Ever hear that one? Sure you have.

Basically, it means that if it appears to be something and has all the characteristics of that something, then the logical conclusion is that it is what it appears to be. Aha. The operative words here for me are “what it appears to be.” Why? Things are not always what they appear to be.

Ever buy a “similar” product because it was less expensive and you thought you were saving money? In the long run did you really save? Did it really do what you wanted it to do? How long did it last? What was your reason for buying it? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not making any judgments. In fact, there are times when purchasing a similar less expensive product can adequately serve the purpose.

Not with safety products.

Sentry products are safety products; built to protect people, equipment and facilities from damages caused by impact from industrial equipment and vehicles.  There are other products that look like ours; the same color, the same height; at a visual glance they look the same. But peel away the outside layer and you definitely recognize the difference. The way they are designed, manufactured, the materials used, the testing they undergo all factor in to making one of the highest quality, toughest, most reliable safety products you can buy. Are they more expensive? Yes, they are. I’m proud to say that because you get what you pay for and safety products are not where you should be looking for bargains. The consequences can be dire.

Safety is serious business. When you purchase safety products to protect your people, equipment and facilities, look below the surface, get past the exterior and make sure that what you see is indeed what you get.

Posted by MJ Thomas

Friday, September 16, 2016

Do you hear what I hear?

Miscommunication. There are days when it seems to run rampant in the workplace, right? Why? Here’s my theory – people don’t listen.  Yep, that’s it.  They hear what’s being said alright, they just don’t listen. Now, before you think I’m splitting hairs or playing with semantics, hear me out; or better yet listen.

Hearing and listening are NOT the same things. Hearing is the act of perceiving sound by the ear. Listening is a conscious choice; it takes attention, processing, even analyzing. You can hear what’s being said without really listening.  As someone noted on the topic, most people tend to be “hard of listening” rather than “hard of hearing.”

Listening means paying attention to what’s being said with the intention of understanding.  In my opinion, this is the challenge.  With all the multi-tasking being done – answering calls, text messages, emails, contacting customers, meeting deadlines, putting out fires, balancing budgets, managing employees – who in the world has time to listen? And, why does it seem so hard?

Listening takes time and focus. Too often instead of listening, we’re thinking about our reply and are in such a hurry that we just blurt out a response before the other person is even finished. In fact, I saw a quote that nicely sums it up – “Oh, I’m sorry. Did the middle of my sentence interrupt the beginning of yours?”

Ouch. Yet I have to admit, I am guilty of committing this offense every now and then; especially when I am stressed. Not good.

We somehow have to make time to listen because when we don’t, it can certainly mess things up. Not listening leads to miscommunication and that can lead to false assumptions, conflict, decreased productivity, mistakes, criticism, finger-pointing, missed opportunities and the list goes on. Not exactly the environment anyone would want to work in or one that fosters creativity and collaboration. Nobody said it was going to be easy.

 Are you listening? Think about it.

Posted by MJ Thomas

Friday, September 9, 2016

Sometimes, all you have to do is ask

Simple, right? Yet, how many of us still hesitate to ask for help when we need it?  Why? Maybe we’re embarrassed that we don’t already know the answers; maybe pride gets in the way; we don’t want to bother anyone; we think we should be able to figure it out ourselves; we don’t want to impose, blah, blah, blah. Lame excuses.

The reality is that most people are more than willing to help. But you have to ask. Instead of the time and productivity wasted on futile attempts to figure it out yourself and the frustration that goes with it, ask. The outcome could surprise you or at least leave you shaking your head wondering why you waited so long to reach out.

Here’s my example for the week; not earth shaking, but an example. A few years ago, I entered the world of Fantasy Football without a clue. It wasn’t that I don’t know football; just didn’t know Fantasy Football. The logical thing would be to ask for help. But, noooo. I didn’t need help; I’d figure it out myself. WRONG. Two miserable seasons later and I still hadn’t learned. It took getting a “D” on my draft selection report card before it hit me – get help.  Overachievers don’t deal well with “D”s.

The league commissioner happens to be my cousin. He graciously schooled me on the fine points of the game; making trades, projected points, what those little yellow text boxes mean and more. I am enlightened and my team’s projected points for the week went up by 30. This season’s looking a little brighter. I thanked him for helping me and he said, “I told you before if you needed help all you had to do was ask.”

How many times in business do we not ask for help? We sit in silence and frustration hoping that answers and solutions will just magically appear. We sabotage our progress, increase our anxiety and make things 100 times more difficult. None of us is expected to know everything. Asking for help is NOT a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength, a willingness to learn, to grow, to keep moving forward, to stay competitive and be successful.

And, that’s a fact.

Posted by MJ Thomas

Friday, September 2, 2016

Here’s to the fruits of labor…

On Monday, September 5, we, as a nation, celebrate Labor Day; a day to “celebrate the efforts of workers past and present that have helped provide the social, political and economic backbone of this country.”

Is that what comes to mind when you think of Labor Day? Hmm? There’s no doubt that this holiday signifies different things to different people. For some it marks the unofficial end of summer; the last official barbecue and the ceremonial closing of the pool. Kids and teachers are back to school and fall sports are back in full swing. For old school fashionistas, it may mean no more wearing white; for others it marks one of the biggest sales days of the year.

In fact, it all started in 1882 at a parade to celebrate workers in New York City. Early in the day, attendance was low but by day’s end more than 10,000 people had participated in the parade and accompanying festivities. States and cities across the country soon began to adopt Labor Day as a celebration and in 1894, the first Monday in September was officially declared a national holiday.

Since that time, much has changed and continues to change; some of it good, some of it not so good; sometimes moving forward, sometimes moving back. One fact that hasn’t changed is that workers – hard working, dedicated and unshaken – are the wheels that keep our country moving forward. Whether you work for a company or are self-employed, work in an office or are a physical laborer, no matter what industry or discipline you work in – your contributions are vital to keeping our country on the right track.

This Labor Day, amidst all the activities that may be going on, take time to celebrate you and the contributions that your hard work makes to our society.

Here’s to the fruits of your labor.

Posted by MJ Thomas