Transforming manufacturing culture

Karin Lindner   

Industry Manufacturing Business culture employees labour manufacturing

How to overcome the Chain of Pain

“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence – it is to act with yesterday’s logic.”

— Peter Drucker

When it comes to change, people can be irrational, fearful and resistant. I really enjoy working with others, but I know how challenging it can be. There are days when I am ready to go through the roof. Looking for the good in every person helps me keep my sanity, and this kind of positive energy can be contagious. Working with others takes patience, understanding and an ability to offer a different perspective. People feel when you are sincere.

But who has time for that?


Everyone is busy. The pace of change accelerates. Customers are demanding. Most managers, supervisors and workers have to do more with fewer resources. New sources of competition emerge, and stress and pressure mount at all levels.

In many enterprises, people are overworked and under appreciated, which comes at a high cost. They are hurting, and hurt people hurt people.

They’re conditioned by their environment and their suffering is disheartening. It develops into a chain of pain that is often ignored, creating what I believe to be a North American epidemic of learned helplessness.

These people aren’t bad or lazy and they do care, but a tremendous feeling of frustration and hopelessness leads them to spread their own pain amongst others.

Is this worth paying attention to? Absolutely. It affects the bottom line and works against attracting and retaining talent.

It doesn’t have to be this way. You can create positive change faster than you may think. I always say, keeping it simple is sexy.

Attitude awareness. With everything you do and everybody you work with, you’ll need to make a decision: focus on what you would like to see rather than on what’s missing. Positive energy is important. If you look for it, you can find something good in every day, every person and every situation. If you understand this concept, teach it to everyone around you.

Become motivated by the desire to help others become better. There are many ways you can practice compassion but why not get started by being curious and offering sincere praise? Ask “learner questions” and listen without judgment. It’s about understanding the other person’s world.

Cultivate personal excellence.
We have to stop controlling people. World-class manufacturing starts with our personal level of excellence. If we want things to get better, we have to get better. Simple tools and techniques for basic life and communication skills are a great kick-starter to get everyone moving in the right direction. It’s about teaching people who left school a long time ago that learning can be a lot of fun. Everyone has to understand the importance of staying current during ever-changing times.

Why is this important?

We are living in the age of technology and the knowledge workforce where the only competitive edge a company has is its culture. Unfortunately, many managers are still stuck in the industrial age mindset where people are seen as bodies, not as minds. We have to change the mindset. Attitudes, values and beliefs should be positively challenged.

You can buy the latest equipment, machinery and technology but it’s the innovative and creative spirit of the workforce that will make or break your company.

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