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? 

Manufacture Your Day by TAKING CONSISTENT ACTION

It really doesn’t matter what we do every once in a while BUT it certainly matters what we do consistently. 

Just recently a Manager said to me, “Karin, I am afraid that I “over-appreciate” my team members. Can this happen?” 

I looked at him and said, “This shouldn’t be one of your worries. I can report quite the opposite. People usually seem to be overworked and “under-appreciated. Just go ahead and show your appreciation daily. Your efforts won’t go by unnoticed as long as you’re sincere.”

When I worked at Magna I had a Manager who shook my hand every evening to thank me for my help and my support. His name was Karl and I was his executive assistant in my second year in Canada. It was wonderful to work for and with him. 

There were 3 key things that he did, which made me go above and beyond for him:

  1. He made it very clear how I added value to his busy days.
  2. He was sincere and respectful at all times. 
  3. He was consistent. 

If you want to see the results that you want to see, you have to be consistent. 

Of course we can all be consistent by eating chocolate chip cookies and junk food on a daily basis and the scale will show that consistency (I am no exception and have my weak moments). However, the opposite is true as well. If you start to make healthier food choices and exercise regularly, you feel healthier and happier in no time. I promise!

Consistency matters in every aspect of our life.

Here is a friendly reminder to what matters most:

  • Our Physical and Mental Health
    • exercise
    • eat healthy and nutritious food
    • meditate
    • walk (with your dog or without) and be mindful of the wonders of nature
  • Our Family and Friends
    • check in with them – call or visit
    • have great conversations without starring at your phone
    • create fun experiences together
    • show your appreciation – never take loved ones for granted
  • Our Personal and Professional Fulfillment
    • know what you want – love it, leave it or change it
    • communicate your expectations
    • be grateful for what you have 
    • appreciate your team members and the people around you
    • be willing to learn and to grow

Please remember that the small things in life are the big things.

Good things come to those who take consistent action and are determined enough to keep going until they see the results. 

You’re welcome!

Manufacture Your Day by KNOWING THAT HAPPINESS IS LINKED TO PRODUCTIVITY

A happy Monday calls for a happy picture!

How would you like to go to work and be surrounded by people who are as energetic as Joseph, Ryan and Song (from left to right)? This picture makes me smile just by looking at it, and I think I will put it on the wall in my office to remind myself why I do the work I do whenever I have a tough day. 

Happy people = productive people. 

These 3 guys have just recently participated in my Leadership Excellence Series, and it was truly amazing for me to observe their effort and their progress over the course of  only 4 months. Bravo! Their efforts will result in lower absenteeism, decreased turnover, better health & safety records and a more engaged workforce. You can take my word for it. 

Awareness is the first step and part of the process on the road to exceptional leadership behaviours. There is no turning back. 

Manufacturing companies in Ontario are still not as progressive as they could be when it comes to engaging in external leadership training, and this despite government funding that reduces employee training costs by up to 83 %. 

I encourage you to read the Forbes article: “Promoting Employee Happiness Benefits Everyone”

What results do you think people who are happy with themselves, have a constructive thought process and who are willing to learn and to grow bring to their workplace? 

Your job isn’t to make people happy. Your job is to find out what makes YOU happy in your personal and professional life. Happiness is an inside job. 

Having said this, you should know that you can definitely contribute to your team members’ happiness. What do you think? Are people happy when you enter the room or when you leave the room?

Here is a friendly reminder to

  • be kind.
  • be friendly. 
  • be helpful.
  • be supportive.
  • be a leader (with a title or without a title) who leads by example. 

Having the right attitude is a choice. 

Manufacture your Day by HAVING BETTER MEETINGS

How can people get their job done with the amount of meetings that they have to attend? 

There are so many people who have put their brain on autopilot when they run to a meeting. Everyone is busy and stressed, and usually they have their mind on something else. Seriously, how many meetings have you attended that you would classify as a colossal waste of time?  

I have participated in meetings in which team members were totally tuned out, stayed low-key, checked their emails and in the worst case even dozed off. Sometimes people become aggressive, loud, and verbally attack one another. The person who called the meeting barely notices what’s going on in the room or doesn’t know what to do about it, and drones on. Meeting Guidelines can be definitely helpful. 

There is certainly no shortage of information available on how to conduct effective meetings, yet very few seem to have mastered this critical skill.

Now here is some great news. You can totally rock any meeting in the shortest possible time if you just keep a few things in mind.

  1. Purpose and Structure

Why specifically are you there? Are you having the meeting for a tangible reason? Is the meeting focused on problems or opportunities? How will you make sure that you don’t waste time and get to the point? Who has to be there to make this meeting successful? What is the expected outcome? What do you want people to think, feel and do when it is all said and done? How will you build a structure into the meeting that people understand the context? How will you ensure the engagement of the participants? Who is in charge of the agenda? How will you stay focused?

  1. Positivity

Energy is important. You can’t get positive results with a negative mind. Positivity doesn’t mean to neglect problems but to see the opportunity in them. Have you every thought about starting your meeting on a positive note? You can ask, “Let’s start with celebrations. What went well since our last meeting?” You can go around the room quickly and ask everyone to share one of their successes. If you think that this would be a waste of time, I would ask you to think again. Starting your meeting with a positive bang, will boost the results of your meeting in a big way.

  1. Encourage Creative Conflict

Conflict is often seen as something negative but in reality there is nothing wrong with conflict as long as we stay respectful with one another. Conflict is necessary to have different opinions voiced and discussed. Everyone looks at challenges from a different perspective, and we should be eager to learn something in meetings instead of putting each other down. What is going well? In what areas are we stuck? How can we get better? How about having a meeting while walking outside and getting some fresh air? Would it be possible to create a colourful room that encourages creativity?

  1. KIS=S (Keeping it Short = Sexy)

It’s only possible to conduct a time effective meeting if you stay on topic and keep the time. If a meeting lacks structure and certain rules that everyone must adhere to, it will easily get out of hand. Have you ever considered standing through a meeting, or putting treadmills in the meeting room? The meetings would definitely be shorter, more productive, more energetic, and would deliver better results.

  1. Make it Participative and Engaging

There is nothing worse than a boring meeting. You also don’t want to be seen as the dictator instead of the facilitator. If people don’t say anything, it’s never a good sign. Either they feel intimidated or they are disengaged. Be observant. Have the courage to “see” what’s going on. What is the body language of the people in the room? Are they tuned out or tuned in? Are there people dominating the conversation? If so, make it a point to ask the quieter ones for their input and ideas. At the end you should always ask for feedback about the meeting. What could be done differently? What can be improved? Asking open ended questions is a wonderful way to get everyone involved, and reflection is always an important part of improvement. Before people leave, everyone should take ownership of different action items.

 

I strongly believe that people have the right to look forward of being an active participant in a meeting (instead of merely attending one) because they know that their voice will be heard. In order for a meeting to be successful, it has to deliver results otherwise it is a waste of people’s time and the company’s money.

Please make the effort to run more effective meetings. Your co-workers will appreciate it.

Manufacture Your Day by CHALLENGING YOUR MIND

3 times a week I am at my 6 am bootcamp. The workouts in my bootcamp are called HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and they are super challenging.

Our gym has the awesome rule that nobody is allowed to say, “I can’t.” This really does wonders for the mind because you just do the exercise to the best of your ability and that’s how you get better and better and better. 

Working out with others has demonstrated to me that some people try harder than others to get better at what they do. We have different kinds of workouts but one of the workouts for about 50 minutes is timed at 80/20 – 80 seconds full out (giving it your best effort) and 20 seconds rest. Let me tell you, these 80 seconds can be very long. 

At the end of each workout there is this countdown that signals the end of the workout – 3, 2, 1, rest and rotate. I have noticed how many people stop as soon the countdown starts but it is exactly these last few seconds that will make you stronger.

It is all about what you continue to do even though your mind tells you to stop. 

It is key to pace yourself and/or making sure to choose the right weight in order to be consistent to the very end. 

There are so many times when I think I can’t get through it and really want to stop but I won’t. I talk myself through it until the very last second. I tell myself, “Almost there, only a few more seconds, I am strong, I can do this, this will feel so good when I am done.” 

Remember, the mind gives up 1000 times before the body does. This is my way of conditioning myself to strengthen my mind and my body.

How is this relevant to you? 

At work we encounter the same thing. Sometimes challenges can be daunting. We seem to encounter one roadblock after the next. We want to give up. We get frustrated. We become super stressed. What you tell yourself in these situations can make all the difference.

Instead of telling yourself….

  • “This doesn’t work”, simply say, “There is a way to make this work. How can we find it?”
  • “I am a failure”, simply say, “I haven’t mastered it YET but I will.”
  • “I should have known that this won’t work”, simply say, “What can I learn from that?”
  • “We have to make it cheaper”, simply say, “How can we make it better?”
  • “This person isn’t smart enough”, simply say, “I wonder if this person plays to her/his strengths or weaknesses.” 
  • “This person has to change,” simply say, “How can I help this person improve?”
  • “I can’t do that”, simply say, “How can I learn to do that?”
  • “This is really difficult”, simply say, “There must be a better way. Any ideas how to find it? 
  • “They have the wrong approach,” simply say, “I am curious to learn why they want to approach it this way.” 

Business is a mental game. I encourage you to develop a mental strategy so that you can challenge your inner critic every day. 

What do you have to lose? 

Manufacture Your Day by UNDERSTANDING THAT EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT

Our mind is miraculous, wonderful and also very complex.

I don’t think we take enough advantage of our collective brainpower. What if we would spend more time appreciating different ideas, opinions and concepts? 

What if we would be able to stop showing the world how smart we are? 

There are times when I notice that certain managers would like nothing more than having everyone thinking alike. Different ideas seem to be welcome as long as they are not different from the way they would approach it. Innovative thinkers may feel like a threat or their ideas can seem too risky, especially if there is no reference point. 

Bummer!

Of course, people with different opinions and new ways of doing things could be frustrating at first but what if being curious and having great conversations could help you bring new solutions to old problems?

Diversity in our organizations is key.

Shouldn’t we learn to become comfortable with things that are out of the norm? We should stop saying “no” to ideas and start saying more “what ifs”. If we want to become better in our organizations, people have to be open-minded and curious in order to find the absolute best ideas. 

People “can, should and will” think different and if they work well together and towards a common goal, almost anything is possible.

Apple Inc. is the best example. They used “Think different.” as an advertising slogan in 1997. 

I personally love it when people challenge me and my thought process. I appreciate when they make me think. It helps me to learn new things and reevaluate if there is a better way. 

“Think different” and encourage others to “think different. That’s how we learn and grow together. 

Manufacture Your Day by BEING ASSERTIVE

Yesterday I wrote about kindness and today I want to reinforce the importance of being assertive. 

The definition of assertiveness in the Cambridge Dictionary: “Someone who is assertive behaves confidently and is not frightened to say what they want or believe.”

Many people are confused about the discrepancy of aggressiveness and assertiveness but there are some key differences. 

Aggressive people are self-focused and often come across as having the need to win and they feed into people fears rather than their confidence. Their body language and tone of voice may indicate that they are in a attacking mode. 

Assertive people like to stand up for themselves but have no intention of hurting others. They are solution oriented, look for win-win situations and an ongoing idea exchange is important to them. 

Here are 5 tips on how you can learn to become more assertive:

  • Make the decision to be confident and politely stand up for yourself
  • Stay calm
  • Be decisive and learn to say “No”
  • Take a solution oriented approach when you find yourself in a conflict situation
  • Agree to disagree

Are you ready, willing and able to stand up for yourself?

Always remember that everything you allow will continue.