Where’s your clock?

By Doug Strickel

After completing four years as a CPA working for a national firm, I took an assignment with a large manufacturing company with a key directive to improve the financial results of a facility.  In my first few days of work at that plant, I noticed several opportunities for improvement, but one thing really stood out.  At every shift change, outgoing employees would line up at the time clock 15 minutes prior to the end of their shift and incoming employees would wait 15 minutes after the start of their shift to clock in and start work.

I asked the personnel manager what was going on with that issue.  He explained that there was old contract language in the labor agreement that allowed a 15 minute grace period at the end and beginning of each shift.  This language was never addressed in practice and was just a misunderstanding of the intent of the item in the labor agreement.  The facility was losing 90 minutes a day of production time associated with 30 minute losses across all three shifts.  Needless to say, addressing this loss of production was a huge opportunity to improve financial results.  

I wonder how many of us today have similar issues in our lives.  For leaders in business, are there issues in your organization that you need to address to improve the results or improve the workplace for your people?  For individuals, are there issues that you need to address in your life that would improve your health, your relationships, your mental wellbeing, or many other possible issues that continue to be avoided for various reasons?

There are reasons we avoid addressing these issues.  Maybe we just want to avoid an unpleasant discussion.  Maybe it’s the fear of what we may hear if we schedule that appointment.  Maybe we are just too proud to ask for help.  It can be any number of things, but one thing we can know for sure.  Things won’t get better on their own, and things may get worse the longer the issues go unaddressed.

So where’s your clock?  I am not referring to the time clock on your wall, but rather that unaddressed issue at work, at home, or in your life that you need to address.  Why not take that first step today and begin to address that issue and move forward in your business, in your relationships, in your family, or maybe in your life?

Oh, when we talked to the employees about eliminating that approach at shift change, the primary response from the workforce was surprise that we didn’t address that issue sooner.  The lost production time made no sense to them either, but it was just something that was always practiced.  Go figure!

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