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Week of 31 Oct 2016: Quality--the final act

Email Jim at jthompson@taii.com

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Time and again, I have seen people conduct themselves in an exemplary manner throughout their careers, only to find themselves departing their places of employment in an untimely fashion. Once I went to work in a paper mill where this had happened en masse just before I arrived.

The place was a mess. Whole departments had been eliminated and it looked as if the people had just left for a fire drill. Of course, as in all cases, I blame management for this appalling lack of quality standards. For those of us coming in, the departed were faceless, yet were they to come in and quiz us on our attitudes towards them, they would have been shocked at our disdain for their conduct.

In my very next job, I was charged with moving our offices, and we were a staff company, with no manufacturing facilities, from a small rental office space to a large one down the street. Of course, when you move an office, all sorts of things appear on the floor when you pick up the furniture.

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The first thing I had everyone do was clean out their existing furniture thoroughly. This included pulling all drawers out, "flashlighting" the holes that contained the drawers and so forth. I saw no reason for us to take with us the possessions of the last three people who had occupied each desk. And then I assigned a person to make sure, once the furniture and fixtures were gone, to clean the place thoroughly. Yes, he had the help of a cleaning service, but I wanted a direct report making sure it met the standards I had set.

In other places, I have seen single departures. Most of them were done in a most despicable fashion. Such actions make a statement about the individual.

A couple of Sundays ago, I was driving home in mid-afternoon from our office in Ohio. On a whim, I called my best friend.
"What are you doing?"

"Helping the mill manager site-clear his office."

"Is he OK?"

"Oh, yeah, he got promoted and his replacement is showing up about five this afternoon. Want to have things in good shape for him."

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I thought about this for a minutes and thought about how many times over the years I had this same conversation with him (we go back almost forty years). I was convinced that the office, probably by 4 p.m., would contain no reference to its immediate previous occupant, indeed to any occupant that might have been in there in the many decades the mill had been operating.

So I followed up with, "You know, all the while I have been making a bit of a living writing about this industry, you have made a great living being its janitor."

And this is so true. Cleaning out the cobwebs of our industry has rewarded him well. Personally, he has never left behind in an office the slightest hint he was ever there--but the effectiveness of his management have been legendary.

What does it say about you, when in your final act, you leave in a snit with a pile of sh*t as your legacy? Have a bit of pride in your work and your reputation. Make sure everyone says in your leaving, "There goes a quality individual."

What do you think? What have you seen? Take our quiz this week.

For safety this week, your final act may be to uncover some potential safety hazard in your workplace by cleaning it up.

Be safe and we will talk next week.

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