August 22 - 25, 2018

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Engagement Starts Before They Walk Through the Door

by Editor 26. July 2018 08:44

By: John Broer, In2Great

Think about all those future employees whom you haven’t even met.  It’s hard to do but it is absolutely necessary to think about the impression you make to prospective employees as a potential employer.  That’s where we begin to look at Employer Branding as a best practice within our companies. It’s the strategy you use to position and promote your company to a desired target audience.  In order to do that, a company has to have a pretty good idea of what kind of culture it wants to cultivate and offer up to its future associates. The challenge sets in when companies promote one type of culture and a new hire finds something entirely different.  For example, a company may present itself as being very forward-thinking and progressive when it comes to employee development and cultural diversity - a progressive climate that encourages creativity and innovation. Who wouldn’t want to work there? All to often, though, companies present this attractive image that really isn’t representative of their work environment and when new hires realize this, they make for the door and look for a place that is more to their liking.  It is because of this that companies need to be realistic about what they offer as a place of employment. If it isn’t desirable, then improvements are in order and once those are made, then the company needs to brand itself by highlighting and promoting those qualities. Employer Branding begins with clearly understanding “why” the organization exists, what it does, and how it offers up its unique services and/or products. That messaging and “brand” is promoted to the marketplace in order to differentiate it from the competition and attract the right type of talent.  
           
Interview process
           
Companies can make their efforts during the hiring and recruiting steps much more effective by making sure that the words and language they use within their job descriptions are reflective of the kinds of drives, qualities, and traits they need in a person who occupies that role.  For example, if the position requires a high level of client interaction and for someone to be very relational and able to connect with customers naturally and quickly, you are likely to attract candidates that really enjoy that. Another example may involve a position that requires a person to work at a predictable and steady pace and the ability to work within a given structure with very little deviation.  While this does not guarantee that people who are not a good match will apply for the position, we can at least employ analytics to understand their natural drives and help us know if they are not a good fit and perhaps find a role for which they are better suited. Much time is wasted in the interview process on candidates that are not a good fit for the position. Using the right language in the job description along with understanding the analytics of their natural drives will save our recruiters time, frustration, and the chance for a bad hire.
 
Preboarding
 
So you’ve found a great candidate and they have accepted your offer.  Now we just wait for them to show up for their first day, right? Wrong.  Depending on the nature of the job and your particular situation, there are a number of things you can do before the actual onboarding process.  Bear in mind that their time may be limited because they are wrapping up with their soon-to-be former employer. Still, here are some things to consider sharing with them prior to “Day 1”:
 

  • Any history or background about the company.  You can start to build their awareness of the vision, culture, and core values of your company.  Written materials are fine but very effective messaging can be made in a short professional video from senior executives.
  • A welcome message from the hiring manager can initiate a positive connection and establish some early expectations.  Similar messages from team members can create an early sense of camaraderie.
  • Providing their onboarding schedule.  Depending on the position, mapping out the first one or two weeks lets a new hire know that their new employer is thinking ahead and preparing them for success.

 
Your “brand” as an employer speaks volumes to prospective employees either positively or negatively.  When you invest the time, resources, and analytics to create a place where the right people will find the right fit, you can expect better results in retention and performance. 

Learn more about this topic during John's presentation at the "Countertops & Architectural Surfaces Symposium" at the IWF 2018 Educaiton Conference.

 

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“Building a Successful Team” Part III

by Editor 26. July 2018 08:40

By: Gary F. Vitale: GFV Business Advisory
Building a successful team takes time.  It also takes persistence and a commitment on the part of leadership to ensure the process is ongoing and not a one and done philosophy.  The only way to make this happen is to set aside time for feedback and reflection and have a persistent and consistent approach to building a team culture in the organization.


Feedback and Reflection

Successful teams set aside time for regular feedback and reflection.  Why, because it works and enables the team to continue to improve and perform at a high level.  Sports teams have mastered the art of feedback and reflection.  They have been generating performance improvement statistics for years.  They keep charts on everything and review them after every game, during practice, and again before every game.  Most businesses however use feedback and reflection on a sporadic basis.  Feedback more than reflection, but even then, many companies don’t take full advantage of the information they receive.  To understand why setting aside time for feedback and reflection is important, let’s do a quick analysis of each.

The term “feedback” describes helpful information about a prior action that is used to adjust or improve future actions.  Feedback occurs when an environment reacts to an action or behavior.  We are all familiar with customer feedback and employee performance feedback.  These types of feedback are used to measure performance expected verses performance exhibited.  So then, who would dispute that feedback is a good thing?

Common sense and research make clear that feedback and opportunities to use that feedback helps to improve and enhance performance.  Feedback, both positive and negative, is valuable information that should be used to make important decisions.  Top performing teams and companies are top performing teams and companies because they consistently search for ways to make their best even better.  They are not only good at accepting feedback; they deliberately seek feedback that highlights the good and the bad.  This has two benefits, first it provides a foundation for decision making and second, it provides a platform to build and maintain communications with others.

Reflection is a simple but powerful task.  It involves taking some time to calm down and reflect on your actions.  When building teams, reflection is done by each team member individually and then shared with the team.  In the working paper Learning by Thinking: How Reflection Aids Performance, Professors Francesca Gino and Gary Pisano of Harvard Business School show how reflecting on what we have done teaches us to do it more effectively the next time around.

The researchers hypothesized that learning by doing would be more effective if deliberately coupled with learning by thinking.  They also hypothesized that sharing information with others would improve the learning process.  The experiment involved three groups.  Each group was given the same problem to solve.  One group just learned by doing, one group learned by doing and then reflected and took notes on their strategies used to solve the problem, and one group learned by doing, reflected on their strategies and then shared their notes with future participants.  Each group was then given a second round of problems to solve.

The results showed that the reflection and the reflection and sharing groups performed almost 20% better on the second round of problems than the first group that just learned by doing and then just took on the second group of problems without reflecting on their strategies for solving the first problem.  The two reflection groups also were given less time to spend on solving the problems.  They were told to stop 15 minutes prior to the learning by doing group to allow for reflection.  Think about this, they worked less and performed better.

There are not a lot of companies that encourage their employees to reflect, or give them time to do it.  But in terms of working smarter, research suggests taking time for reflection can improve team and company performance.

Given the information available on the benefits of feedback and reflection, and the positive impact they have on individual, team and company performance, it is imperative that we try and develop a company culture where feedback and reflection are the norm.  Make it part of your regular routine and watch your teams and company flourish.

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Lean Manufacturing Requires Top Management Commitment - Top Management’s Role in a Lean Manufacturing Transformation

by Editor 26. July 2018 08:37

The failure of companies to successfully implement ‘lean manufacturing’ is widely known, with some estimating that 50% to 90% of all efforts fail.

Much has been written and reviewed regarding the root cause of these failures. I will instead focus on one company’s successful implementation.

My employer was a wholly owned subsidiary of a much larger corporation.  The product does not contain complicated technology; the complexity is in the breadth of the product offering.  This is a build to order business, where the main product line had several hundred thousand possible configurations (now over 1 million), lead times from order to ship of ten days with no minimum/maximum order quantity. 

The year before we began our lean implementation, the company generated $5.6 million in net profit after tax on sales of $83 million.  Three years later the average revenue per unit had decreased 25% (volume increased from 7,000 to 10,000 per week), labor cost per hour increased 11%, sales increased to $90 million and net profit after tax increased to $12.6 million.  That’s not a typo, sales up 8%, price per unit down 25%, labor cost up 8% and net profit after tax as a percent of sales up 100%. Profit continued to increase each year as the TPS journey continued.

None of the more common business solutions were implemented, manufacturing did not relocate off shore, only one process was automated, there were no layoffs or outsourcing.

Twenty years later the entire corporation still embraces lean manufacturing while their competitors are moving manufacturing offshore and/or pursuing the traditional approaches to cost cutting. The competitive advantage is significant. The top manufacturing executive at a major competitor once told me “we’ve done lean” but several years later began moving operations to Mexico. A sales executive at another competitor complained of losing business to my former employer due to a price difference of 30%.

This effort to begin the lean journey began in April 1994, when the executives responsible for the subsidiary first learned of the Toyota Production System as a result of touring TMMK in Georgetown, KY. They were impressed with what they observed and began reaching out to Toyota in an attempt to gain some type of support in implementing lean manufacturing.  After many attempts, about a year later Toyota suggested our company send two managers to a local Toyota supplier for six months to learn TPS at that location.  I was a manufacturing manager responsible for about one third of the operation at the time and was one of the people who accepted the assignment.  The other was the manager of our manufacturing engineering group. 

We learned early in the assignment this was our full time role for six months.  Our positions were temporarily backfilled and we were not to return to our positions (or the plant) until the assignment was complete. During that time we were fully immersed in transforming one manufacturing cell, working with the local kaizen team.  Upon returning to our company, I become responsible for organizing and leading our own kaizen team.

Three additional people from inside our organization were assigned to the team and we were given all necessary tools and resources. These three individuals were highly valued in the company, a manufacturing engineer, another manufacturing manager and a manager of engineering responsible for technical services.

 During our time at the Toyota supplier we were fortunate enough to meet several people from the Toyota Supplier Support Center and attend one of their workshops.  After beginning our own transformation we had many questions and contacted them for advice. It was suggested our executives write another request for assistance. 

An excerpt from the letter;

“As we consider our path for growth, we see many similarities with where we are today and where GHSP was three years ago.  We are quickly outgrowing our plant space and machine capacity and manage to meet decreasing customer lead times only by increasing inventory.  We have, however, made an intentional decision not to add equipment or building.  Through implementing the disciplines within TPS, we believe equipment capacity will increase, the need for plant expansion will be eliminated, and service to our customers will improve.  Our goal is to reduce our lead time from one week to twenty-four hours.”
 
Fortunately, we were soon visited by TSSC and were given three ‘homework assignments’ to test the company’s resolve.

  • Eliminate the work in process (WIP) between frame welding and cabinet welding, about 1200 pieces (one day supply)
  • Put all metal components from our stamping lines in small containers that could be lifted by one person (parts were in large tubs at the time, sometimes over 1000 pieces per tub, requiring forklifts to move).  For some parts there would be only twenty in a small container, which would take 20 seconds to produce.
  • Combine the two assembly lines and four low volume assembly cells into one line, three meters long, with four people.  There were over 100 people across three shifts in that products assembly area at the time!

We were to keep TSSC informed of our progress and were also permitted to ask questions as necessary to assist us in this work. 
Great progress was made on eliminating the WIP and moving to small containers, but we had no idea how to begin work on the third assignment.  In July of that year TSSC agreed to support us in this effort.

Two years of effort was required to secure support from Toyota for our lean effort.  This required determination from the executive team to continue pursuing assistance for that entire period of time, dedicating two full time resources for six months in an effort to develop our own in house ability, dedicating other full time resources to begin the journey, and following up on the ‘homework’ to prove their commitment to TSSC.

The level of commitment required to gain the assistance of Toyota in the lean journey;

  • Two years of effort to gain support
  • Two department managers on full time temporary assignment offsite to learn TPS for six months
  • Four people dedicated to implementing TPS prior to gaining outside support

 
The work with TSSC began with focusing on the assembly department. The typical lean tools were used to balance the line to takt time. However, will all the effort to balance and kaizen the line it did not meet the production objectives without overtime.  We implemented many lean tools and were in a constant state of motion kaizen. Team members were trained, line leaders   were trained, supervisors were trained, and the union committee was trained. 

We learned training will not solve the problem. TSSC did not provide solutions to our problems but instead worked to develop our ability to find solutions on our own. Learning by doing enabled us to find solutions to each problem. This is when we began the long journey of seeing the problems that were preventing success and finding ways to solve them. After many years in operation, we did not recognize all the problems that our team members had to work through every minute of their work day.
 
Some of the problems:

  • Quality defects from the paint line and other internal suppliers
  • Part shortages
  • Parts mis-identified
  • Ergonomic problems, including ‘hard’ work
  • Poor tool/equipment reliability
  • Product build information not presented in an easy to use format (for the most part team members had to remember how to build every product configuration, which was virtually impossible as the product line expanded)
  • Congestion
  • Large lot sizes ran better than small orders due to material and information flow so small orders were left incomplete.
  • Team members arrive at line late after break, leave early before break
  • Team member periodic struggle causes short term delay that propagates through the line/area/plant.

Even with all these problems, and more, this company was profitable. However, if it continued with the original manufacturing methods investments in equipment, floor space, containers, racking, etc. were required due to increased unit volume.

The solution was to continue to work on eliminating the problems. It is hard work and people can become discouraged.  In this case, we stayed on the path, following the philosophies and principles of TPS and implemented technical tools that were appropriate for the current condition.

Problem solving ability was developed by working to eliminate each of the issues that prevented success one at a time. Initially it was thought that TPS was creating these problems, but these were longstanding issues that were simply exposed as the lean journey made progress.

The focus went well beyond implementing technical tools, but of course the tools had to be used. Heijunka, or production smoothing, is one of the foundations of lean manufacturing, but many practitioners overlook or skip this step. They find it difficult to level schedules when customers don’t order in a level manner or when factory lead time makes it difficult. Lean implementation without including leveling may yield some results but will not achieve the level of improvement realized in this example. We had to think deeply about the obstacles, find what was preventing us from being able to level and address each problem one at a time.

The first obstacle was a paradigm that orders could not be leveled.  It was believed that production schedules had to vary daily as customer demand varied, perhaps not exactly but we could certainly not schedule the same quantity every day.  In reality daily production could be scheduled for the same overall quantity every day because the factory needed 62 hours to produce a product but the order to ship lead time was 10 days. This was achieved by determining an appropriate daily quantity and the production sequence was simply oldest due date first.

If increases in customer order volume created a risk of late shipments we scheduled daily overtime to absorb the spike in volume. This allowed us to notify team members in advance rather than the typical practice of informing them of overtime the day before. We also analyzed the volume projections to determine if an increase in the level production target was necessary.
If customer order volume dropped we continued to produce at the level volume until the line needed to be stopped for a day or two.  This almost never actually occurred, new orders would be produced as they were received in this case.

None of the operations I have worked with easily adopted this concept, including plants within this same corporation. They struggle with an apparent conflict with ‘the seven wastes’ and their traditional thinking. In this example, while we struggled with the concept, we knew through experience that following the principles of TPS was the correct path to follow.

First requirement
Senior executives have to be committed to lean manufacturing. In this example the entire executive team actively supported gaining assistance from Toyota, enlisting key internal people in the effort and providing enough human and financial resources for as long as required. 
 
 
Second requirement
Adequate internal human resources need to be allocated. The financial payback in this example was $7,000,000 per year after tax (increasing annually) at a cost of less than $300,000 per year (pre-tax) for the kaizen team. At that time TSSC did not charge for their support, however, with outside support estimated to cost $250,000 per year the ROI is still extremely positive. 
Too often, companies attempt to implement lean by having employees with full time responsibilities assigned to the ‘lean project’. I have had clients assign this to only the plant manager or some other unlucky individual without any relief of their existing duties. It should come as no surprise that these efforts failed.

Until the culture has matured to the point where lean manufacturing is truly the way of doing business the need for dedicated people exists. 

Third requirement
Follow the principles, philosophies and technical tools of lean manufacturing.  It is a complete system, don’t attempt to choose which to follow and which to change or neglect.
 

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The Impact of Leadership on Team Building

by Editor 25. July 2018 14:58

By: Gary Vitale: GFV Business Advisory

Though there are countless athletic coaches we can point to when looking at how leaders form teams, one of the earliest advocates of teamwork in business was Henry Ford.  Prior to the Ford Motor Company implementing the assembly line, automobiles were built by highly skilled craftsmen in isolation from start to finish.  Needless to say, output was very slow.  Ford realized that by individuals working on an individual task and then passing their product on to the next individual to build upon, and repeating the process over and over, the overall process could be improved dramatically.  Through working as a team, Ford was able to reduce the time it took to build a car from weeks to just six hours.

Teamwork is critical if you want to efficiently achieve a vision.  But putting the team together is only the beginning.  As Henry Ford used to say, “Coming together is a beginning.  Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”  Ford demonstrated the principle Together Everyone Achieves More.

The success of a team is dependent upon every person within that team achieving what’s required of them.  To do that the leader needs to ensure that they come together, stay together, and work together.  When teams gel cohesively, great things happen.  The whole team needs to put in effort to achieve a vision.  Good leaders take this task very seriously and follow a few simple rules.

  1. They make sure team members get to know each other personally and professionally
  2. They combat silo mentality
  3. They work with the team to agree on the rules governing the team
    1. 100% of the team must commit to the rules
    2. The leader must retain the right to veto a team rule
  4. They make sure everyone is pulling their weight

The leadership role is critical to the team working together.  Putting the team together, assigning the task or project, defining the rules and then walking away and hoping for success is a recipe for failure.

 

 

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Understanding the Human Side of Organizational Change

by Editor 25. July 2018 14:53

By Christine Corelli, IWF Atlanta Conference Speaker          

An abundance of manufacturers and woodworking businesses in this industry have gone through mergers, acquisitions, consolidation, restructuring, downsizing and other sure-fire methods to ensure business survival over the past few years. One thing is for sure. Even the economy is growing and many businesses are thriving new strategies and methods of doing business will continue to take place in the foreseeable future.

In today’s business climate, we are faced with new competitors who are emerging—many from non-traditional sources with new business models. Customers are more cost-conscious than ever and have even higher service expectations. Today, it’s all about the “customer experience.” Technology is changing so rapidly what we have is quickly outdated. We have been saying we are now a “global” economy since the early 90’s, but today we are truly global.

Overall, smart businesses are raising the bar for performance, implementing the latest technology, striving to deliver the highest level of customer service, and changing the way they do business.

These are just a few changes executives and business owners are making in their businesses today. But change implementation brings challenges.

Examples  

  1. The implementation of new technology can cause chaos in an entire company. Many managers have told me their people struggled for two months with their new business system and didn’t have a single day without frustration when it was first implemented.
  2. In this industry, few people working in showrooms have had any type of formal sales training. They may be proficient in cabinetry and design but many lack critical sales communication, and relationship building skills. Some are even uncomfortable when striving to open a dialogue.
  3. When a merger or acquisition occurs, dealers tend to be more focused on the financial and marketing aspects of the merger and fail to conduct due diligence on their respective corporate cultures. Far too often, the “merging” of the cultures into a single entity gets put on the backburner. Employees will be concerned. Will their sales people be better than us? Whose systems or procedures will they use? Will there be “US vs “Them” mentality? Who will get what position? Will I have a new boss? What practices will be integrated into the new company? Will I still fit in? Will conflict occur?
  1. When there is a change in policy sales managers face the challenge of finding an approach that their sales people will accept if the policy change is something their customers will want to hear. Sales people tend to have two motivators – money and recognition. If they are concerned with a change that will affect either of those the result will be an unhappy sales force.
  2. When a decision is made to establish a branch in another state or country it was not done without careful thought. Yet, making it work is indeed a major challenge. What will the employees be like? Will they have a strong work ethic? Will it truly help us to increase revenue and profitability? Who can we relocate to manage the operation and make it work?

One of the most important facets of leadership excellence is the ability to implement changes necessary for business growth and profitability as smoothly and quickly as possible.  Understanding “the human side of change” is important. As you review the following stages that exist for most businesses, during organizational change, think of the people in your company. Do these sound familiar?

Five Stages Most Human Beings Experience During Change

  1. Resistance

Some people, especially those who are like doing things the same way they’ve always done them may resist change. You can recognize resistance easily as the individual will complain, withdraw, or suddenly become unsupportive. There may be loud or whispered vocal protests. Some may tell you they will “do what they have to do" to keep their job, but underneath it all, they are unhappy.

While this stage can be very frustrating, be aware that it's often part of the normal process people go through when confronted with major change. The reason is that human beings are basically creatures of habit. They like doing things the same way.

  1. Uncertainty

Many individuals will be uncertain about their ability to do what has been asked of them. They may be concerned with whether they will be able to produce and deliver and may be having difficulty with new skills they must learn for sales or new technology. Worse, they will worry about their jobs. Some will express uncertainty and negativity as to whether the changes that have been made will really benefit their department or company. They may feel unconnected to what is happening around them.  They may be experiencing stress symptoms - physical, emotional or mental that are attributed to change.  If the individual does not receive strong support and help from their immediate manager, it can take far longer to get from Stage 2 to Stage 5.

  1. Assimilation

If change is implemented effectively, you will begin to recognize that people are beginning to incorporate the changes that you have made, you will recognize less resistance and uncertainty, and application of new skills, or processes they are beginning to apply.

  1. Integration

When you see people beginning to work more productively integration is taking place. If you have the right people on your team, you will see your top performers come forward with ideas on more effective ways of doing things.

Many companies are guilty of underutilizing employees' suggestions and ideas and are not taking full advantage of them.  Great ideas are generally the collaboration of many ideas, generated by many people.  There are great ideas by people in the field and in every job-role, but you won't know unless you ask for their input and ideas. If you don’t your employees won't feel as if they are part of the change; they'll feel more like victims of change.

  1. Acceptance – Higher Performance

When your people have accepted the changes that have occurred and have implemented the changes you will see an increase in productivity. If you have done it right, you’ll also see an improvement in morale. The key is to move them to this stage as quickly as possible.

What You Can Count On:

The world has changed. Business has changed. It will continue to change. All businesses and individuals will have to adjust to what will occur.  And we will have to make changes in our companies as we move into the future.  But no change initiative can succeed without the complete support of your employees. 

How to Implement Change Successfully

Gather Your Troops to Communicate the Reason for Change, Your Direction and Goals.

Be sure everyone understands the vision of where you want your company to go and why. Make them a part of the change process so that they assume ownership. Explain that changes such as a reorganization, creating a High-Performance Culture, using a new HR software system, acquiring another business, or implementing new technology are necessary in order to remain competitive and to continue to grow. Communicate values, management goals, and direction to every level of the company: "With the new culture we will create, we will strive for excellence in all we do. Whatever it takes, we are committed to helping everyone adjust to the changes. It may take time to adjust, but I'm counting on each and every one of you to do your part you to make it happen."

Encourage Acceptance and Help Them See Positive Opportunities At The Onset.         

Speak in terms of positive outcomes. Encourage support, and make employees feel a sense of excitement about themselves and the company as you grow together: "We will be more productive, and our success will benefit everyone. If everyone does their part, together, we can accomplish our goals. And as we move forward, we'll be the best company in our industry.

Let Your Employees Know Their Involvement is Mandatory and That They Must Be Solution Focused, Not Problem-focused.

Employee involvement is the key to managing change and creating high performance Ask your team for their ideas on how you can support each other. Ask them how you can help each other to ease the transition process. Many dealers are guilty of underutilizing the ideas and suggestions of their people when going through change, and do not take full advantage of their knowledge and experience. If employees are not involved, they won't feel they are a part of the change; they'll feel more like victims of change.  

Be Solution-Focused

"For every problem there is a solution," should be a motto in your company. As problems occur during change, many people will likely wait for management to fix them. That's why at the onset of change let your people know they are expected to help identify problems and focus on offering solutions. Changes rarely occur without glitches, so ask them brainstorm ways to solve the problems, especially those that will prevent you from providing flawless service. "I want each of you to come forward with ideas on how to improve productivity and provide the highest level of service to our customers so that we develop a reputation for World Class Customer Service

Ask for Accountability.

Ask your people to be accountable to each other for demonstrating teamwork, maintaining high morale, and giving their full support to the sales and product support teams. Placing an equal value on leadership, teamwork, professional behavior, performance, and accountability, you and your team will be able to provide better service to both customers and to each other.

Maintain Open Communication and an Open-Door Policy.

Open communication is important in every organization at all times, but it becomes even more critical during times of change. As you implement the change, consider developing a concurrent communication strategy to remind people what the expectations are, and the progress you are making in your change efforts.

Be in Tune to Difficulties Some May Be Experiencing

Recognize that most people fear change but it affects each one differently. Some will be more adaptable than others will. Many high-performers may enjoy being stretched beyond their present comfort zone, but others may be completely overwhelmed. You need to let them know you understand the challenges they are facing and your job as a leader is to help them through it. Keep your door open so people can come in to discuss any apprehension. Provide a comfortable environment where people can air their concerns. It's normal for people to resist change, so the more patience you show the sooner they will adapt.

Ask how your people are doing. Listen, and encourage cooperation and honesty. Talk to that person who is coming to work with a chip on his shoulder. Ask what you can do to help. Encourage upward feedback from everyone on his or her attitudes, concerns, issues and frustrations that are related to the change.

Be a Role Model

It is up to you and your entire management team to maintain employee morale. Set the tone; be a role model and be an example for others to follow. Let your team know that you are there to help them through it. Be accountable for the attitude that YOU bring to your job each day and remind your management team to do the same. Remember this leadership rule:  Never let your guard down when it comes to your attitude.

Take the Time to Train

To thwart loss of productivity during change, you need to make sure your people have the necessary skills to succeed. Training must be seen as a top priority. The time you invest in training will eventually pay off in high levels of customer loyalty and increased profitability.

Stay Focused.

Remind yourself and your team to stay focused on the customer and on your competitive strategy. Here’s an acronym you might want to use.

Forward Thinking

Optimistic Attitude

Customer Directed

Urgency to Execute

Success as a Unified Team

Alleviate job pressure

Meeting the demands placed upon people during change requires managing job pressure for you and others. Laugh a little! Change may be serious, but people who have fun at work are more productive, provide higher levels of service, and are less anxious during change. Encourage an upbeat atmosphere and remind your employees to take it one day at a time.

You've heard the old adage “The only constant is change." Yes, change is inevitable, and necessary to create and sustain success in business today, but it doesn't have to be agonizing. If you make a conscious effort to help your people through change and implement strategies to ease the transition, you can build a build a better business.

© 2018, Christine Corelli & Associates, Inc.  Christine Corelli has had a distinguished 25 year career as an international keynote speaker, workshop facilitator, and business columnist. She has authored business six books, including the best-selling, Wake Up and Smell the Competition. Her clients are characterized by Fortune 500 companies, major trade associations, and an abundance of mid-size and small companies. To learn more visit https://www.christinespeaks.com - To contact her for an upcoming meeting, conference or special event, call (847) 477-7376.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hardwood Edging - Part 3

by Editor 25. July 2018 10:27

By: Scott Grove, Furniture Design: ScottGrove.com

Adding curves to any project substantially increases its complexity, and applying curved inlay compounds the process.

I’ll be sharing a new system that uses accurately-cut templates and template guides on a router, which allow you to cut on either side of the table field and hardwood edge seam. The same template is used to cut an inlay directly centered on the seam, as well as cut the outside edge that is parallel to the seam. Once set up, edging can be applied to any curve, precisely, perfectly, and very quickly.

There are many ways to sequence this system of templates; I have broken the steps down individually for easier comprehension for demonstration purposes. Once you have a good understanding of the concept, you can combine or rearrange a few steps and overlap cuts to speed up the process. I have outlined and illustrated a few variations in my handout and in my book: Hardwood Edging and Inlay for Curved Tables published by Schiffer Publishing.

By adding a fine detailed accent, inlays can take your work to the next level. Fine woven patterns and decorative designs can be created with just about any material to add just the right touch of WOW! and introduce an entirely new creative aesthetic to your woodworking projects.

In this demonstration, I will cover a wide spectrum of materials and techniques for a variety of alternative inlays, from fine silver wire filigree to natural translucent minerals, UV cured resin, mother of pearl from EasyInlay.com, turquoise, glow in the dark pigments, and synthetic stone.

Join me to learn more at IWF: Curved Joinery, Edges and Inlays on Friday, August 24th from 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM

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What You Need to Know About Wilsonart® Compact and SOLICOR™ Compact Laminate

by Editor 24. July 2018 12:09

With Wilsonart’s Compact and SOLICOR Compact products, multiple projects doesn’t necessarily mean multiple materials! Whether it’s commercial or residential countertops, office and reception desks, wall panels and cladding, work surfaces, lockers or shelving, Wilsonart’s Compact and SOLICOR Compact has your back.

This material was built to handle just about anything! Life is messy and hard, but our Compact’s scratch-resistant quality makes it life-friendly. Installers love how easy it is to work with, making it the perfect alternative to porcelain options. The durability of Compact eliminates the need to worry about possible cracks, abrasions and moisture damage. This long-lasting product gives specifiers the confidence to install in high traffic, high wear, high use and high abuse areas - exactly where it is meant to be!

Better yet, SOLICOR Compact offers a selection of solid color cores that lets you design visually crisp and stunning spaces. Instead of a traditional black core, this color through products makes it possible to achieve a sleek, cohesive design, while maintaining the dependable durability of a Compact surface.

Visit Wilsonart in Booth C-1958 to view the new “Thinscape Performance Tops” for the Residential industry.

To dive deeper into the durability of Wilsonart® Compact and SOLICOR™ Compact, join us on Tuesday, August 21st at the “Techniques and Time-Savers for Engineered Surfacing Products” symposium.

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Effective Estimating that leads to Bullet Proof Proposals - Part 4

by Editor 24. July 2018 12:08

By: Bobbo Buckley, Software Developer: Cabinotch Innovative Solutions

Effective Estimating that leads to Bullet Proof Proposals - BMG10

In addition to having a 3 tiered pre-qualifying cost method like I described in the last post of this series, we also need to provide our prospective customers with three Estimates. This is another reason to have a powerful estimating system that allows you to provide these additional Estimates and/or Proposals quickly and easily.

My personal experience with doing this was nothing but positive. By providing every client three Estimates, you win some projects simply because you have fulfilled their innate desire to get three prices (the three Estimate mantra is drilled into us throughout our lifetime, but no one ever said the three Estimates have to be from three different companies). Many people will be satisfied with your three Estimates and simply choose the one that fits their budget or desires.

Another common issue this three Estimate methodology solves is the client that does not know what their budget is, and just goes shopping for Estimates from multiple vendors. The early Estimate providers lose out in this process because they have provided an Estimate based on what the client asked for, but the client could not afford what they asked for. Each successive Estimate gets closer to what they can afford because each time they find a new vendor, they trim their selections to more realistic things they can afford. If you are one of the early Estimators, you lose, if you are the last guy, you win. When you provide this client an Estimate for your lowest possible selections, an Estimate for your typical selections and an Estimate for your best of the best selections, this client will more often than not either just go with the Estimate they can afford, or at least come back to review your low cost Estimate (I personally won a lot more jobs in that lower tier of selections after I started providing three Estimates to everyone).

And last, but certainly not least, by providing these three Estimates, some clients will upgrade to the better selection set. I found that I left a lot of money on the table for a whole lot of years by not doing this. Many of my clients upgraded just because they saw the value in the higher grade of door, drawer front, finish, etc., but never dreamed the difference would be within their reach.

We will cover this process in depth during this session, and I will illustrate how I quickly and easily create these three price point Estimates.

 

 

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The CNC Machine: An Overview

by Editor 24. July 2018 12:06

By: Leland Thomasset: Taghkanic Woodworking

There are several different types of CNC machines that are used in today’s woodworking shops. However, for this discussion, we are going to focus on the nested-based router.

Flat Bed Nested Base CNC 3-Axis with Boring Block  

These machines are great for producing custom cabinetry use nested-based software.
 
To review, nested based manufacturing is where all of the cabinet parts for a job are optimized and laid out on sheets of material. The CNC first works on any operations that happen within the part outline. In other words, it will drill all construction and line boring holes. It will then cut any dados, grooves or lounges. The final operation would be to cut the parts out of the sheet.
 
That being said, these machines are not limited to sheet goods. They can be used for surface texturing, curved moldings, 3D parts/carvings, etc. Your only limitation will be your Z-axis clearance and your imagination.
 
Some other features available on these machines would be a C-axis, which is a rotary axis on the spindle which would be used with an aggregate head for operations that may happen on the side of a part with a ball nose bit – they may be a saw blade or grooving saw mounted on a spindle or a combination of both. Some machines come with multiple spindles and duel beds for higher volume operations. Automatic loaders and off loaders are becoming more common and compact.
 
As always it is important to know what it is that you need to accomplish and to purchase the proper machine configuration for your company’s needs.
 
To learn more, attend “Boundary-pushing with your Nested-Based Router” during IWF to learn tips and tricks from myself and two other veteran CNC owners.

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Are you ready to grow your business?

by Editor 23. July 2018 12:59

One-day Expanding your Business into the U.S., held in collaboration with International Wood Fair (IWF), on Tuesday, August 21, 2018 will focus on helping companies from around the world evaluate the opportunity to expand their business to the United States.

Using tools from the lean startup methodology, currently used by entrepreneurs around the world, participants will evaluate the market expansion opportunity. 

The program will include topics like identifying customer segments, evaluating potential partners and assessing the risk of expansion.  

Suitable for CEOs, COOs, VPs of sales and international affairs, business development professionals from any industry may benefit from this workshop.

 

Link: http://iwfatlanta.com/Education/SFT

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