Change and Culture – A Visit with Joe


Welcome back, Marty here with Warehouse and Operations as a Career!  Last week we visited with Phillip and were discussing a couple of the challenges a new Lead or Supervisor can encounter when being brought up from within the crew.  It was really interesting seeing the feedback and the messages that were sent into us, I guess we have several listeners that have recently stepped into those roles or a few that are ready too. A lot of times after a promotion we as Leads, or Supervisors of course want to make changes, changes we feel are better for our associates and the company both.  We’ve possibly received our promotion due to someone moving on, maybe our old supervisor was promoted, or had quit or found another job or an entirely new position had been created for us and our talents.  In any event or scenario, we mentioned, something called change is inevitable and in our industry and culture, there’s another good word, culture, anyway change is sometimes met with some seriously high wall’s, very thick walls!  Today let’s talk about handling Change & Culture.  This week I was able catch Joe, our WAOC go to Safety Man and have him on the phone with us today.  You know Joe, Wither as an associate, a new member of management or a long-term Manager, Change is something we’ll need to learn to handle.  Many times, we can maneuver around those walls, drill right through them or easily hurdle over them.  I’ve been taught and found that it’s all in how you present change and handle change that determines failure or success with the project or situation!

What’s your thoughts on change Joe, would you agree it can present itself as a barrier to us on the floor & as Sup’s Sir?

Joe –   Change is one of those things you can’t prevent. Take a look at Vietnam era building and manufacturing practices and compare them to today. Worlds apart and a lot of change to get it there.

Let’s look at the word change, Merriam Webster   says in part

a : to make different in some particular

b : to make radically different

c : to give a different position, course, or direction

2 a : to replace with another

b : to make a shift from one to another

d : to undergo a modification


We’re Operations people, we come in for our Shifts and do our Jobs, things work, we get the job done so why change anything right, it all just works!  I used to pull orders with a tugger, some use to call them tovairs, we connected two heavy industrial flats or buggies to them any pulled through the warehouse placing the product on them, then we’d drop them off at their staging door to be loaded by the loaders.  They worked great, I always felt it was the best system period.  I mean the buggies were easy to roll out of your way and reposition any time you needed too, and loading was a breeze, you’d just roll the buggy into the trailer and stack the product on the floor, high and tight!  We pulled at the time on pick tickets which we’re just a computer sheet that told us who ordered what and where it was going.  Simple and efficient.  Or so we thought at the time.

My employer installed a Selection System, we switched from tuggers to electric pallet jacks and from our easily maneuvered buggies to stacking product on pallets.  And the pallets were broken down into 2 zones even, the system told us wither to place the product on the front or back halves of the pallets.  This was change, and I can quite honestly say I didn’t see it working out at all.  I willingly gave 10 reasons to anyone that would listen as to why this wouldn’t work and was a waste of time.  I can remember sitting outside at lunch on the 2nd night that we were working with the new system and a much older gentleman I knew came over and sit down beside me.  He was a trailer spotter at the time, he’d been a driver many years ago with the same company.  All he said was that when he started as a warehouseman for the company they pushed metal carts down the aisles to pull orders.  When the first electric tovars were delivered their charge would only last like half the shift, he’d fought the change until he realized he was making the same amount of money doing it either way.  He said look how much easier it is for you now, get up and go pull groceries and he walked away.  I think from that moment on I accepted change much better.  I was making the same money & after a couple of weeks I did find that my job was much easier.  Since then every change I’ve gone through has brought ease and efficiencies with it.  I see todays warehouse management systems in use and I’m wow’ed by the progress.

Anyway, change is just that, doing something differently, following someone else or thinking in a different way.  In my experience, it’s how we react to a change that determines it’s or really our success.

Joe, as you’ve progressed up through the ranks you’ve seen a couple of those walls, anything come to mind you could share with us & tell us how you overcame them?

Joe –   Yes sir, just wanting to advance and get promoted at work leads you to love change real quick. The minute YOU decide you are really interested in doing something else it’s because we welcomed change!!

You know we need to Embrace change, let it motivate us, smile at it, enter it with an open mind.  It’s going to be better or it probably wouldn’t be happening.  In the words of a old friend just “get up and go pull the groceries”.

So as a new lead or supervisor how are you going to get your team to accept change?  It simply requires you to know it, understand what’s changing and why, if you explain it well, are honest with its approach, are excited and accepting of it your team will follow you with it and accept it.  As an associate lets be positive, it’s going to happen, probably needs to happen and the way it was is just no more.

Joe – I think “Buy in” has a lot to do with it. If you don’t believe in something its hard to sell it to others as fact. As the way things should be. Its also about being on the same page.

You know how much I like quotes, Tony Robbins tells us Change is Inevitable. Progress is Optional.  Change is constant. Embrace it or not – your future depends on it. “No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.”!

Ok, enough of my quotes, I will include a link for these quotes and several others though in todays show notes if you’d like to check’em out.

So, we mentioned Culture earlier too.  I went back to my Merriam Webster dictionary, I know I’m a word of the day freak, it says in part and defines Culture as:

b : the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization

In my opinion Culture is the glue that holds things together and creates Success or Failure in our Operations world.  If we develop a strong culture of communication on and from the floor, those that needs the information will have it to better perform their task.  If we have a strong Productivity Culture within our team everyone will do what they have too to make it happen.  Wither its selecting 10,000 cases by lunch or making our hourly quota of replenishments or loading X number of trailers by a set time, it will happen if everyone’s chasing that same goal! It honestly just happens, every time, but it takes us all, that has to be our culture!

Safety is another place that has to have a strong culture within us as associates and our teams as managers.

Joe you just gave a presentation on the Culture of Safety out in Arizona this week I believe, tell us a little about a Culture of Safety and why it’s so important.

Joe –   I mentioned buy in and believing earlier, this is just that. As per the definition when likeminded people i.e. coworkers show support for the same ideas the atmosphere changes. No that knuckle head employee whose coming in feels less apt to cut up on equipment when he knows Everyone is watching as opposed to an environment that wouldn’t give him a second glance.

Joe, I want to thank you for taking a few minutes with us, especially on such short notice Sir.

Joe – No problem, its always a pleasure to find myself here with your listeners sir.

And as always, I’d like to thank all our listeners and we hope to have you visit us again next week.  Until then let’s remember our end game is our Careers and as Jim Rohn told us Your Life Does Not Get Better By Chance, It Gets Better By Change!   Everyone have a great week ahead and Be Safe Out There!

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