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. 

Manufacture You Day by LOOKING AFTER YOURSELF

Happy Monday!

You may have noticed that I bring up the topic of mental health on a fairly regular basis. I do it because I think this is extremely important. I always try to put a different spin on it but in case you are wondering, we learn best through repetition and I think it is critical to increase mental health awareness in the manufacturing industry.

How can people give their best if they are not at their best (emotionally, mentally and physically)? 

I have always liked to give back, and when I didn’t have the money to give back, I gave my time. Today I am super excited to announce that I have officially become a proud supporter of the CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association) by giving 10% of my revenue to the program “Not Myself Today”. My contribution will be monitored and CMHA will make sure that every penny I spend will go towards the manufacturing industry. I will also make sure to increase mental health awareness with my clients and new prospects by engaging them in good and meaningful conversations. 

I would like to share an email that I have recently received from one of my regular readers:

“I have been working for my company (automotive) for the past 9 years 10-12 hrs a day (add another 1-2 hrs at home), 50 out of 52 weekends  in a year I spent at work and almost all long weekends – just to keep everyone happy.  

Outcome? Chest pain, tension headache, panic attacks, frustrated mood, fights with my wife (ouch), and I can go on and on. Last summer the company announced a big change, which significantly reduced my hours.  Since then all headaches, chest pains, fights with wife are gone. Now I work 8 hour-days and I don’t have to work on weekends anymore. As a result I can lead a happier, healthier and more productive life.” 

If this story resonates with you, let me be clear, “It is not normal to work this kind of long hours on a regular basis.” I like to call that “modern day slavery”. However, there are also bosses who want their employees to go home but they don’t see a different way to finish their work and that’s why they work overtime. 

Please make sure to look after yourself and start monitoring how much time you spend at work. 

Long hours usually mean poor self-management. 

It may  benefit you to learn how to:

  • trust your team
  • develop your team members
  • delegate better
  • manage yourself better
  • manage your time better
  • set your boundaries
  • live life to the fullest – it’s all about work-life balance

You have only one life. Here is to you and your mental and physical well-being. 

Manufacture Your Day by CONQUERING YOUR ROADBLOCKS

This is a good one, right? 

Have you met some speed bumps in your life? I know that I have. 

Here are a few of my personal examples: 

  1. The lady in the outplacement company who told me that 3 out of 4 business fail, and that second language speakers have low chances of “surviving” (this advice came from an employee who has never run her own business). 
  2. The accounts payable clerk of a well-known automotive company who told me after one of their cheques bounced, “If you make such a big deal over a $5,000 cheque, you may as well stop doing what you’re doing and look for a job.” 
  3. One of my well-meaning friends who told me that I was crazy to focus on manufacturing companies because these companies would all move offshore and that nobody else would waste their energy on this industry. 

I am not gonna lie, these were difficult moments to overcome but today they have become some pretty good stories to tell. 

After almost 12 years in business I am so proud that I have always managed to stay true to myself, my passion and my purpose. I encourage YOU to do the same. 

There are certainly people who want to protect you because they don’t want to see you “fail”. The challenge is that they come from their own experience, their own mindset, their own thought process and their own level of courage and determination. 

Let me explain how I handled the scenarios mentioned earlier in my mind: 

  1. I actually want to thrive, not to survive. I guess I have to become so good that I will be that magical 4th business. 
  2. You are such a huge company. If you issue cheques for “only” $5,000 and they bounce, maybe you should stop doing what you’re doing.
  3. Manufacturing is an important part of any economy. How awesome for me if nobody else wants to focus on this industry.

Things can be difficult but if you find the positive in a challenging situation, you will get to where you want to be. 

I want to close with a story that you may have heard before but this story is such a great reminder of the differences in mindset. 

“Many years ago two salesmen were sent by a British shoe manufacturer to Africa to investigate and report back on market potential. The first salesman reported back, “There is no potential here – nobody wears shoes.” The second salesman reported back, “There is massive potential here – nobody wears shoes.”’

Make it a super weekend!

Manufacture Your Day by LEARNING TO BECOME MENTALLY TOUGH

Just recently I had a super powerful email discussion about happiness and suffering with the General Manager of a plant.

He said, “Suffering is part of life and every individual needs to be prepared for it. Suffering can come from job loss, loss of love, illness (personal or loved ones), death in the family, financial problems. The mental toughness preparation for all this chaos is not tackled properly and very few have the courage to deal with it ahead of time.”

I have to agree. I have been there, and all the difficult times have made me mentally stronger.

Having said this, everyone deals with difficult circumstances differently. There are different stages, in which we are supposed to grieve and in other instances feel lost or sorry for ourselves. Life goes on, and it will serve us well if we learn to overcome these periods of our life, otherwise we end up being bitter and angry at everyone who crosses our path. 

When I hit rock bottom in my life at the beginning stages of my business in 2008 (after a layoff, alone in Canada without family, limited network of people, single, and no money), I can remember times when I was sitting in my little apartment crying my head off, not knowing how I would make it. I didn’t label this time of my life “suffering” but I guess to some degree it was. I can remember that I had taped a quote on my laptop that has helped me to this very day: “Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.” (by Robert H. Schuller). Somehow I managed to convince myself that I am a smart and tough cookie who can conquer anything that comes my way.

Thankfully I had some really good friends in my life and I had my health. That’s all you need when you want dig yourself out of a hole. Make a plan, be determined and persistent and the sky is the limit. I wished I would have been prepared ahead of time and had a mental strategy in place BUT I didn’t.

Today in my business it is my goal to help as many people as possible to develop a more constructive thought process, which in return will help them to have better emotional control when unexpected challenges and uncertainty come their way. Everything starts in our head and how we deal with difficult situations. 

Here is some really cool advice on mental toughness from a former Marine (please click on the link below):

9 Tricks to Become Mentally Tough

Enjoy!

 

Manufacture Your Day by RELAXING YOUR MIND

So why don’t you stop trying? 

Please don’t get me wrong, I want you to do your best every single day because this attitude will benefit you in the long run. Doing your best, even if you don’t feel like it, will build mental strength and character.

However, trying to be everything to everyone is not your job.

Here is how you stop being a people pleaser: 

  • Become aware that you have a choice – saying “yes” can become a habit
  • Put yourself first 
  • Overcome the fear of being disliked or even worse – fired 
  • Set your priorities and set your boundaries
  • Be assertive when you say “no” – the first “no” seems to be the hardest
  • Be decisive – you don’t have to explain yourself when you say “no”

If you have met me before, you know that I am a big proponent of helping and supporting others BUT not at the expense of your health and well-being. 

Some people are givers and some people are takers. You want to figure out who constantly takes (manipulators) and the people who know the balance between giving and taking. 

You have only so much time given in a day – learn to manage yourself and your time wisely. 

Deal?