Manufacture Your Day by TELLING PEOPLE YOU APPRECIATE THEM

Happy Monday!

I always like to give reminders in the corporate world how important it is to show appreciation. It is such a simple thing, yet seems so difficult to do. 

Last week I was on the receiving end. It was an unexpected but so sincere message that I would like to share it. Of course I asked for the approval of the sender.  

“Karin, I worked with you when you were a featured speaker at the 2015 Wisconsin Manufacturing Show, and I was greatly influenced by your endearing personality, and your outlook on the way people treat people!

Our mutual friend, Paul, has included me in your manufacturing newsletters. This has been several years now and I received invaluable wisdom. Many times I would forward your messages to my sister, who was supervising people at her job, and to one of my best friends, who has been working for very ungrateful & demanding bosses, and, of course, ME……..
Paul’s Mon-Fri early morning text bling, with your forward, sets the horizon for my day!!! You raise the bar very high, with the sharing of your personal challenges, your perseverance, and YOUR FAITH.
Sending warmth & respect & wishes for Blessed Holidays.
Jill Smart”
Thank you Jill! You really made my day.
It’s a shame but most times we will never know if and how we made a difference in other people’s life. 
If YOU are a regular reader of my daily messages, I challenge you today to take the time to tell someone if he/she has made a difference in your life. Someone who helped you during challenging times. Someone who has always an ear for you to listen. Someone who believed in you when nobody else did. Someone who has lifted you up rather than dragged you down. 
So rarely we speak about the good things that are on our mind but imagine the impact on our world if more people would show sincere appreciation. 
Be awesome and tell someone else how you feel about him / her.
Bless them. Embrace them. Show your appreciation and watch the magic unfold. 

Manufacture Your Day by BEING COMMITTED TO EXECUTION

If people would be more focused on improving their own shortcomings, they wouldn’t have so much time to criticize others. Do you agree?  

I always like to share personal stories because I don’t want people to think I have it all figured out. Unfortunately I haven’t but I am working on it every day. 

As a matter of fact, these daily messages are as much education for me when I am writing them as they are for you when you’re reading them. 

I am not a structured person. In fact, I find structure quite boring. Having said this, I may not be structured but I am super committed and dedicated to be at my best. Of course, in certain areas of our life structure is necessary in order to get things done.

For example, I get up at 5 am EVERY day during the week and I start working out between 5.45 am and 6 am. Usually it is about 1 hour. The only reasons when I don’t work out early in the morning are when I travel, facilitate a workshop or when I have a super early coaching call. 

There are many times when I don’t feel like working out but I still manage to convince myself to get out of bed. How? I remind myself of the feeling how incredible I feel after the workout. I have anchored (NLP Anchoring Technique) that feeling and it helps me to get out of my bed, especially in the winter.

Now while this is considered personal time, I transfer my level of commitment and dedication to business. The mind is very complex and I practice everything I want to be as a person in my personal life in order to bring it to my professional life. It is all about authenticity. 

How can help my clients to achieve organizational fitness if I am not mentally and physically fit myself? 

I honestly don’t like excuses and if I don’t get something done, I own it. I either didn’t prioritize properly, had poor time-management, procrastinated or I simply had a non-productive phase. It happens. 

We are all humans. We are far from perfection and that’s o.k. Excuses are not. They start with good intentions and end with blaming people and outside circumstances. 

Did you know that the cure from excuses is execution? 

I love that thought. Happy Friday!

Manufacture Your Day by GIVING MORE THAN YOU GET

Today I would like to share one of Aesop’s Fables because they are so wonderful to make us think. 

The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs

“A struggling farmer finds an egg made of pure gold in the nest of his goose. He thinks it is some kind of joke, then gets it appraised and discovers that the golden egg is for real. The goose lays one of those golden eggs every day, which should be enough for the farmer to live a great life. He indeed becomes rich because of those golden eggs.

But even though he is now rich, it is not enough for the farmer. He wants more, and getting that once-a-day egg is not enough. So, convinced that there must be a literal goldmine inside the goose, he kills it and slices it up to get all the golden eggs at once time. Only thing is, he finds out that there is no golden eggs inside the goose, and now that he has killed the goose, he will not be getting anymore. So thanks to greed, he killed the thing that made him rich.”

Moral of this Story: “Too much greed results in nothing.”

How can this story be related to you and/or business? 

  1. Stephen Covey (“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”) had a great analogy. He used this fable to illustrate the P/PC (production/production capability) effectiveness equation. People think that “the more you produce, the more you do, the more effective you are,” Covey writes. But he notes that “true effectiveness” truly comes from two things – what is actually produced (the golden eggs), and the thing that produces it (the goose). It is critical to have a P/PC balance. 
  2. My observation in my work with the people in manufacturing companies has been that production is 10% process and 90% people. Why? A great process is critical but you need the people to buy into that process, follow the process and hopefully continuously look for better ways to improve the process. If people are overworked, stressed and frustrated, you will slowly kill the energy, drive, motivation and creativity of the goose (workforce) and the golden eggs will be on the decline (production). Your quarterly KPIs (key performance indicators) clearly tell a story. That’s why I encourage you to take care of your goose and the golden eggs will follow. 
  3. It’s human nature to ask for more, more, more but before you do, check in with yourself to make sure that you don’t kill your goose: 
    • What’s the risk and what’s the benefit? 
    • Will this do more harm or more good?
    • Is this for common good or for personal gain? 

We all have geese in our lives (internal and external clients, suppliers, employees) and it’s good to nurture them for our personal and/or organizational health and well-being. 

You get what you give. Always!

Manufacture Your Day by BEING HONEST WITH YOURSELF

In coaching there is a tool called the “Wheel of Life”. The “Wheel of Life” is simply a circle evenly divided in different sections, which represent different areas of our life such as Significant Other/Romance, Health, Finances, Career/Business, Family and Friends, Environment, Fun and Recreation, Personal Development.

If you give each one of these areas a number between 1 (worst) and 10 (best), you will be able to determine how bumpy your “Wheel of Life” is. 

This exercise is very helpful when people would like to make improvements in their life but are not sure where to get started.

On the flip side there are also people who don’t even dare to take a close look at their life but I know that’s not you, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading my messages. 

If you would like to create a better life experience, you have to be honest with yourself first in order to get the ball rolling. 

About 12 years ago 4 of these life segments in my life were ranked at 3 or below. The awesome thing is that when you hit rock bottom, there is only one way to go. 

I was desperate and frustrated but eventually I learned to be honest with myself. I started to take responsibility for my life in order to create a better life experience. 

In other words, I moved away from “Excucity” and this was the biggest step. 

When we are unhappy with our life we tend to point fingers because it is so much easier to blame others than to take responsibility yourself. 

Honesty is a critical part of self-improvement and in its own weird way it is tremendously rewarding as soon as you are able to take control over your life. 

Here is how I got started:

  • Honesty takes practice – a lot of practice to become more self-aware
  • Acknowledge the good, bad and ugly in your life – you can only change what you acknowledge
  • Admit when you make a mistake – this can be painful at times but it also provides the best opportunity to improve
  • Reflect, acknowledge your feelings and make a plan for the better

You know that I believe in you and now you just have to learn to believe in yourself and your abilities. 

Manufacture Your Day by MAKING TIME FOR PERSONAL EXCELLENCE

It is easy to speak about manufacturing excellence but in reality manufacturing excellence starts with personal excellence. 

Do you work in an environment where excellence is a clear expectation? 

I grew up in a household where my parents reinforced certain rules over and over again:

  • Be on time (= respect other people’s time)
  • Look after the environment (put the garbage where it belongs, don’t idle the car, clean up after yourself)
  • Be polite at all times (say hello, please and thank you)
  • Save energy (by turning off the light if you’re not in the room)
  • Apologize if you did wrong to others (get over yourself and say “I am sorry”)
  • Do your best in whatever you do
  • Show initiative and challenge the status quo
  • Smile more than you frown 
  • Take responsibility for your actions

Honestly, I grew up with so many rules in Austria and especially my mom was pretty strict to have my brother and I live by these rules. As a child (and at times even as an adult) I tried to bend these rules as much as I could but today I know that this strict education for personal excellence has shaped me into who I am today. 

What does this mean for you and the people at work? 

If there are no rules and they are not reinforced, people will make their own. 

It is mind boggling for me to observe how people walk late into meetings, not even apologizing for being late – and nobody says anything. Some people even walk into the office in the morning without acknowledging the people around them and think this is o.k.

Is it true that everything we teach our children seems to have lost significance at work?

Shouldn’t there be standards for excellence? Standards, which define certain expectations that eventually determine the level of performance in our personal and in our professional life. 

Time to wake up. 

When have we stopped acknowledging that it pays off in life to be a good human being? 

Manufacture Your Day by LEARNING HOW TO DEAL WITH PRESSURE

It is my passion to help employees in manufacturing companies to strive reaching their full potential in order to be more productive and have a better life experience. 

Have I told you that I have the highest respect for you and the work you do on a daily basis?

I see that there is tremendous pressure for manufacturing employees and for some people this pressure is almost unbearable if they don’t know how to deal with it.

Let me share a conversation that I had with someone last week. This person told me, “Karin, every day I get up asking myself how I can possibly make it through the day. I am afraid that I will lose my job and I have trouble sleeping. I am frustrated because I find myself in the middle of chaos, which seems to be a never-ending story. I am stressed and recently I have discovered that I have high blood pressure. I would like to leave that job but I have no strength. I have lost that strength a long time ago and that’s why I just try to survive day after day.”

Sad, isn’t it?

It is mission impossible to strive for manufacturing excellence and world class manufacturing if the majority of the employees have neither the tools nor a strategy to handle daily demands in their personal and professional life.

Here is a good way to take control of your emotional state: 

  1. Surround yourself with positive people and stay away from drama and energy vampires – people who complain on an ongoing basis will drag you down rather than lift you up.
  2. Keep calm and look for the positive in every situation – freaking out has never solved anything.
  3. Take breaks – nobody can be productive without taking regular breaks throughout the day. Start by taking your lunch break away from your desk.

It’s our mind that can and will make us crazy if we don’t stop negative thoughts and turn them into positive ones.

If you think negative, you feel bad. If you feel bad, you can’t be productive. If you lose your productivity, you will feel stressed and fearful. If you feel stressed and fearful, it will affect your mental and physical health.

Enough said. It is a vicious cycle and everything starts with your thought process. 

Make the decision to take control over the way your think and it will positively affect every aspect of your life.

What do you have to lose? 

Manufacture Your Day by MAKING SURE THAT YOU HAVE A GREAT WORK ETHIC

I don’t know about you but I have some pretty big dreams and some of them have already been “worked” into reality. 

In my life I have learned a lot from my parents.

They used to have a construction business and I grew up observing first hand the good, bad and ugly of owning your own business. I saw the financial worries of my parents but I also saw how resilient and hard working they were.

Their whole life they were such great role models for me, and I strive to become a better version of myself because of them.

Here are 3 things that I have learned based on my parents’ influence:

  • Work hard and never ever give up (it’s a mindset)
  • Grit (courage and strength of character)
  • People skills (learn to connect with people – it will make life easier and more enjoyable)

Have you ever noticed that any person has the ability to give his or her personal touch to a job? 

It really doesn’t matter if the job title is Janitor, Machine Operator, HR Generalist, Engineering Manager, VP of Operations or CEO.  These are just a few examples of jobs and it is the energy, drive and personality of the person who will bring that job to life.

You can turn your job into a wonderful opportunity to better the lives of the people around you, or the job is just a series of tasks that you have to fulfill to collect a paycheque.

What do you think will be the more fulfilling choice? 

I encourage you to…..

  • Work hard on becoming better at what you do. 
  • Work hard on becoming a better person. 
  • Work hard on developing a constructive thought process. 
  • Work hard on being more mindful in your everyday life.
  • Work hard on developing a growth mindset. 
  • Work hard on putting a smile on your face even if you don’t feel like smiling. 
  • Work hard on getting to know the people around you. 
  • Work hard on treating others the way you want to be treated. 

I could come up with more examples but I guess you get my point. 

If you work harder on yourself than the people around you, you will soon be able to watch the magic unfold.

Remember, I am your biggest fan. Happy Friday!

Manufacture Your Day by DOING WHAT YOU SAY YOU WILL DO

Have you ever promised something and you didn’t follow through? 

Probably. We all have. 

The best is when we promise something to children. They will hold us accountable and they will keep reminding us until we follow through. 

True? Children can be our best teachers and they develop their character based on what they see. 

Did you know that we judge others by their actions but we judge ourselves by our intentions? Ouch. 

Here are a few examples when people don’t follow through: 

  • Assign Blame: I really wanted to complete it this week BUT I need other people to get it done and they don’t get back to me. 
  • Offer an Excuse: I know you’re waiting for this BUT I am just so busy right now. 
  • Matter of Prioritization: I know that I said that I would get it done this week BUT I am swamped with a few top priority projects.
  • Poor Time Management: I realize that I keep pushing this out BUT there are just not enough hours a day. 
  • Little to No Self-Management (emotional control, motivation): Stop asking me week after week. I do it when I get to it. If this is so important for you, why don’t you make it happen yourself? 
  • Lack of Follow-Through and Commitment: I know I promised twice BUT this time I will try my best to make it happen. If people say “I try”, there is not commitment. 

Assignment for YOU: Please take a moment to reflect and think about what you have to work on in order to follow-through in your personal and in your professional life. 

You will get what you give. It is all about developing trust and building relationships with the people around you. 

Your life experience is a mirror. What do you see? 

Manufacture Your Day by DOING YOUR BEST

If you are a little bit like me and you have a monkey mind (so many ideas and things to do that it will make your head spin), then you may have days where you don’t even know what doing your best looks like. 

Am I right? 

That’s why it is super important to come to terms with it – not every day is a productive day. Let it go and “reset” tomorrow. 

There is something that I have started to do a while ago, which I find extremely helpful. I make sure to answer the following questions at the end of my business day. It takes a lot of discipline but if you manage to make it a habit, it helps you to stay focused on what’s truly important. 

  1. What is one thing that I have done well today? 
  2. Did I make someone else’s day better today? 
  3. What is something that I have learned today (from a mistake, experience, from other people, from a book, magazine, video, from my coach, etc.)? 
  4. What is something that I could have done better today (how I handled a disagreement with someone – personal or professional, how I delivered a message, prospect meeting, phone call with someone, feedback, etc)? 
  5. What am I grateful for today? 

When we remind ourselves that every challenge is an opportunity and when we start to write things down, we will “download” valuable information from our operating system” (the brain). If it’s “downloaded” by bringing your thoughts on paper, our mind will focus on all the great things that you’ve done today or on things that offer an opportunity for improvement.

Stop, breathe, reflect, and get ready to reset. Do you know what I’m talking about? 

Manufacture Your Day by OBSERVING PEOPLE’S PROGRESS

When people work together it can be tricky – different personalities, different experiences, different thought processes, different beliefs, different opinions, different cultures and….. different paces of learning. 

In running we have a saying, “It doesn’t matter how slow you go. You still lap everyone sitting on the couch.” 

I believe that making progress is one of the most overlooked things in the corporate world. 

Think about little children who learn how to walk. Some will walk with 9 months, others will walk with 15 months but it is a given that they will walk. If your child wouldn’t walk at 12 months, would you say, “You are too slow. If you fall down one more time, just stop trying” ? 

For every good parent this would be unthinkable, right? 

Yet, in the corporate world people get put down on a fairly regular basis. People are criticized and their voices often stay unheard. 

Think about it, if people can’t do anything right, it affects their self-worth and their self-confidence. As a result, they will stop believing in their ability to contribute value, which in return will affect the bottom line.

My suggestion? 

Develop your team by providing constructive feedback on an ongoing basis: 

  1. Write down what you like and appreciate about that person (if you find nothing, why is the person working for you?)
  2. Find 1 thing that the person should learn to do better (1, not 10 things as this would be discouraging)
  3. Schedule a meeting (respect for their time) and tell them what the meeting is about (feedback meeting)
  4. Have a good one-on-one conversation (both sitting down)
  5. Speak from one adult to another adult (not like an adult to a child)
  6. Ask, “What is one thing that I can do better for you?” 

Feedback is here for 2 reasons only: 

  • help the person to get better (non-judgmental and not criticizing)
  • reinforce the behaviour and skills that you already like

Simple Process: 

  1. Example: Employee’s name, I really appreciate your positive attitude and that I can always rely on you to get the job done. Can I provide one suggestion that will help you to get even better? I would like that you involve your team members more by asking them open-ended questions (i.e. How can we improve things around here?), because (WWIFM – what’s in it for me) it will  help you to create more engagement on your team. 
  2. Observe the person
  3. Follow up after 1 week (critical) – I have noticed that you have started……. How do you feel about your progress when it comes to involving your team members? Listen to what he/she has to say. 
  4. Be patient and persistent – a new skill needs to be developed and this person is probably outside of his/her comfort zone. 
  5. If the person has mastered it, move on to the next point of improvement. 

Everyone has room for improvement, even your star players. 

Remember that progress is better than perfection.