What Managers Should Understand About Change on the Floor

Change on the floor © Erik Back 2005

Lately I have been thinking about how change agents implement changes in companies. I have an academic background in strategy and management; I have studied a lot of theories and methods about change and it is all very exciting.

Most change agents are very good a making managers understand how important and how good change would be for their companies. The agents and managers meet to make a strategy to implement change. Until now everything is good. Both agent and manager speak the same language.

People on the floor don’t care

I have worked on the floor among non-academics and it has been a great experience. I have had jobs like warehouse operative and sales assistant; my family are all workmen. What I have experienced is that they put pride in their work and their craft; but they hate change and they especially dislike when academic managers tell them how to do their work.

Management has to find a way to gain trust and then initiate change in a non-academic language. The manager needs to understand that people on the floor do not care about LEAN, kaizen and positive thinking. They care about doing their jobs.

“Managers are just lazy academics sitting on their chairs all day drinking coffee!” I have heard this sentence many variations countless of times. Most people at the floor will agree with the statement and help maintaining that image.

If you want to initiate change you have to change yourself first. Next you have to show appreciation and communicate what you want. If people are pleased with you appreciation they will give you what you ask for.

Good Habit 1: Sensational Sleep

Physiological habit sleep © Erik Back 2011

This is the first article in a series of good habits that are based on my model “The Hierarchy of Habits”. At the foundation of the pyramid you find the physiological habits and today is about sleep.

Sleep research

Sleep is the most important habit of your life. If you do not sleep at all then you risk death; it is as simple as that. If you only sleep very little you will live but you will have a terrible life. I have seen relationships break because of lack of sleep; I have seen even more people get permanently sick because of lack of sleep.

Research show that you need 7-8 hours of sleep and if you do not get the sleep you need your cognitive performance will not remain intact. You will not be thinking as clear as you could. At 6 hours sleep or less research show that you will regenerate over time; your life span will be shortened.

You can read the research result that was published in 2003 here. If you would like a less academic text you can read an article from The New York Times here.

How I got a better sleeping habit

For a few months I have had only very little sleep, about 5-6 hours every night sometimes I managed to get a nap in the middle of the day. In the beginning it was not a problem with less sleep but lately I have had problems performing during the day. I forget things and have difficulties being positive. I realised that I had to work on my sleeping habits.

I wanted to get a stable sleeping pattern to get enough sleep and to bring balance into my sleeping habits; this is what I do:

I get up at 6.30 (6.30am) every morning. I started out getting up at 6.00 (6am) but that was too early, maybe because it is winter and dark most of the day (I live in Denmark and right now we only have about 7 hours of daylight)

I go to bed around 22.00 (10pm) in the evening, sometimes later, but I aim at ten o’clock. This results in approximately eight hours of sleep.

I take a nap during the day if I have the opportunity to do so. I never allow myself to nap more than 45 minutes. I have always had a biphasic sleeping pattern; I do not know if that is good or bad but most research seem to prove that a nap is a healthy habit as long as you take the nap between 13.00 and 15.00 (1pm – 3pm).

Defeat Fear With Cans!

Stickman Motivator finds success

I can I will I can I will © Erik Back 2011

I found another great quote; I do not know the origins of the quote but it is good:

“Fear is a habit; so is self-pity, defeat, anxiety, despair, hopelessness and resignation. You can eliminate all of these negative habits with two simple resolves: I can!! I will!!”

To have success in life you have to do what other people either fear to do or do not want to do. Do not fear doing things because the things you fear will bring success; do not be afraid of success.

One thing I have learned is: Never give up! Things can be hard to do and sometimes they seem hopeless. Sometimes the whole world seems to think that what you are doing is a bad idea. But very often it is because they fear doing what you are doing. People want security and that is why they do what they always do. They stick to habits they know will work. But if you want to fulfil your dreams you have to get out of your comfort zone and challenge your fears.

I agree with the quote above. Fear is a bad habit. I know that fear is there to protect us but you really have to do some fearful things to get on in life or you risk getting more and more fear. If you focus on fear you will get fear. My advice is to do what you do not like to do because the reward will be ten times worth it.

I do not like to jump into a cold lake with thin ice floes, but I do it anyway because the feeling I get afterward is sensational. I feel like a completely new person full of energy and the blood is rushing and the adrenaline makes me feel high.

I want to get the reward; I want the great feeling I get afterwards. If you want something you can defeat the fear of doing by saying I will do it! I can do it!

I always chant a mantra inside myself when I have to challenge my fears; I keep repeating I can, I will, I can, I will etc.

Try it and you will be very well rewarded.

How to Show Genuine Interest


Interested in snowboarding @ Erik Back 2000

A couple of days ago I wrote a post about how to show interest. It has become the third most read post on my blog and a lot of people search for advice on how to show genuine interest; I can see that from the Google searches that is referred to my blog. The keyword that made me write this post as a follow up on my previous post was the word genuine and today I will give you 4 steps to genuine interest.

To show genuine interest in something you have to be genuinely interested. Thus, the question is not how to show genuine interest, the question is how to be genuinely interested. There is no way you can fake genuine interest because the receiver of faked interest will feel it immediately; and so will you! The only way to be genuinely interested is by feeling an interest for the subject or person in question.

A feeling comes from a related experience you have had. E.g. If you have never tried to snowboard and I enthusiastically tell you how great it is snowboarding on fresh powder snow, you will smile and say – that’s nice, good for you! You will not start a conversation because you have not had the experience that makes you feel what I felt snowboarding on powder snow.

To be genuinely interested you have to be able to recall a feeling from a related experience. E.g. you are an experienced surfer and when I tell you about snowboarding you compare your experiences from surfing and that will generate a genuine interest.

The good news is that you can always recall a related feeling. The first thing you have to do is observe and listen to the person you are talking to. Find out what this person is actually saying and look for keywords and clues you can relate to. Connect these keywords to experiences you have had that are related and the feeling of interest will come. As soon as that feeling shows up you will know what to say or ask and you will automatically seem genuinely interested because you are genuinely interested.

4 steps to genuine interest

  1. Listen and observe.
  2. Find keywords you can relate to.
  3. Connect the keywords to past experiences.
  4. Ask questions based on the feelings you get.

I Was Hurt! – Who Cares?

Erik Fool's hat

Fool? - I don't think so! @ Erik Back 2011

Today I felt hurt; first I got annoyed then angry; but after a bit of moping I turned my feelings into something positive. This post is a follow up story to my article “6 Ways to Stop Being Over Sensitive”.

Who cares if I was hurt by a stupid comment on my blog today? No one! (Well, except my mother.) It does not help complaining about other people’s wrong doings; you have to take responsibility for the situation and turn it into something good. That is what I did.

Today some guy posted a comment saying: – Learn how to spell fool! I thought to myself that this comment tells more about the commenter than about me. I decided to investigate the accusation of me being a fool: I have a master of science in economics; I have studied philosophy and culture in five different languages at the university; my post in question has been read by more than 15.000 visitors an more than 100 visitors have shared and liked it. My conclusion was that I am not a fool.

Then I examined my spelling; well, I must admit that I am not perfect in writing, but I think I do pretty well considering Danish is my native language. I sometimes mix up different languages because apart from Danish and English I also speak Spanish, German and Russian. Thus, I do not have to feel bad about my spelling. But I like learning something new and I want to become better at expressing myself. I found that I had used a word that does not look good: “Learnings”. It is grammatically incorrect and a bad habit invented in the world of marketing and business. Furthermore I discovered that I had left out a word!

Thanks to the commenter my post is now better than before; I learned something new about “learnings”; and I got an idea for my next series of posts on this blog: How to Be Nice to People.

You have to remember that cannot expect everybody to like you; there will always be someone who disagrees with you and negative people will always exist. You just have to choose to put focus on the positive and forget about the people who do not contribute in a positive way. You have the potential to do good things, so keep doing what you want to do and never give up because of negative comments.