Dale, shift supervisor for a paper mill in British Columbia, Canada, told Session 7B of the Leadership Development Lab:
"A couple of weeks ago, I happened to look out the window on the south side of paper machine #5 and I noticed one of our paper mill utility workers dumping domestic garbage bins from the paper mill lunchroom and offices into a large Dempsey dumpster container that goes to our local community domestic dumpsite. The problem was that the container he was dumping the trash into was already over 90% full. As he shook the dumping bins, waste paper was spilling over out of the container onto the paved area where we stage the dumpsters. I couldn’t get out of the mill operating floor in time to stop this action. A few minutes later, when the worker returned to the operating floor with the empty bin, I asked if I could talk with him for a minute. I then told him that I had noticed him dumping garbage into a full bin and excess refuge had fallen out onto the paved staging area. I waited for a moment to see if he had a response. He said nothing. Then I reviewed our standards of housekeeping with him and emphasized that we all need to do even the small things right in order to make our workplace safe and clean. I reminded him that a clean operation in every detail will lead to our goal of ‘safely producing 600 tons per day at a profit’. His response was, ‘You are right. I will
be more careful in the future.’ I told him that I appreciated him keeping the bins emptied so that garbage didn’t spill out all over in our lunch and break rooms and said, ‘Keep up the good job.’
The lesson I learned from this experience is that workers are not always aware that they are doing substandard work. I need to communicate standards and reasons for those standards on a consistent basis.
The action I call you to take is talk to people at their level, raise the standard flags on a consistent basis and always include the reasons why, the reason for the standard, which will include a benefit to the operation and ultimately to the associate. This will eliminate safety hazards and the cost and frustration of rework. Everyone will be doing it right the first time with pride and great job satisfaction.
The benefit you will gain is the confidence that comes when you have a well-trained, informed, motivated workforce. You will also have the satisfaction of knowing that your team will make it possible for you to achieve whatever production goals you have committed to and do it accident-free."