Managing is Leading: Find and Develop Your Personal Leadership Style

10. May 2016 15:26

Managing is Leading: Find and Develop Your Personal Leadership Style

By Norb Slowikowski

The highest functioning form of management is leadership.  But there is an inefficiency in today’s market – not enough people know how to manage and lead. Too many managers look at only the bottom line, rather than the correct process you need to successfully get to that bottom line.  Utilizing the right process in a forward-thinking way is true leadership. That’s what really separates the “great” from the merely “good.”

Technical skills are knowledge. You can learn that in a step-by-step format.  But teaching people how to lead, communicate and be accountable is much more difficult.  It’s a different mindset that says, invest in your people and ensure that they succeed.  Then, if they don’t succeed, step in to provide accountability. In order to do that, we need to expend the same amount of time on the management side as we do the technical side.  Then we can develop spectators into truly effective managers.

So, are you ready to take the next step and become an effective leader? If the answer is “Yes,” then Managing is Leading is the perfect program for you. In this seminar, participants will explore leadership roles such as strategist, change agent, coach, manager, communicator and team member. We will also discuss how to develop your own unique leadership style for maximum impact in your field.

It’s time to stop being a witness and start taking action.  Learn how to reinforce your leadership skills to find a new, value-added approach to being productive. With this in mind, there are five key elements of leadership that need to be emphasized if you are to be highly productive, effective and efficient. Let’s make our way through those elements.


   1.     Communicate and Clarify Expectations

          The supervisor and employee should reach mutual agreement in five basic areas:

  •  The work to be done.  Explain the quality standards and set a deadline for each task.
  • How the job fits into the total picture and why it is important.
  • Define the performance factors, i.e., quality, quantity, job budgets, safety and material and equipment control and customer relations.
  • How and when performance will be measured.  It may be through quantitative measures or a series of statements describing satisfactory performance.
  •  How performance will be rewarded, e.g., a pay for performance system.


    2.     Let Employees Know Where They Stand

Accentuate the positive.  Give your employees positive reinforcement when they do something well.  Make sure the feedback is specific, timely and relevant while focusing on results accomplished.  This type of feedback, like other leadership techniques, is another way of creating ownership for one’s job.  Remember, when you reinforce positive behavior, it tends to repeat itself.

    3.     Establish a Sound Communications Network

Effective leadership requires a network of communication that is both company and employee centered.  An approach to communication that goes beyond basic job information can accomplish several things.  It promotes a sense of identification, a feeling of being a key member of the team.  This in turn fosters the interest, commitment and closeness which are so important to harmony and cooperation.  A sound communication system breeds involvement and decreases the likelihood of an employee stating, “I just do my job.  That’s what I’m paid for.”  When people feel valued, they tend to be more productive and will enjoy coming to work everyday.

Look out for Part Two of this blog series, in which we will cover:

·       How to Establish a Positive Work Climate

·       Delegating Effectively

·       Specific Leadership Styles


Industry 4.0 - The Future of Manufacturing

9. May 2016 09:25

Industry 4.0 - The Future of Manufacturing

By: Urs Buehlmann, VT; Mathias Schmitt, White Rock LLC; Omar Espinoza, University of Minnesota; and David Maurer, Stiles Machinery

You may have heard the term Industry 4.0 in conversations or on TV.  However, most industry participants do not have a good understanding on what Industry 4.0 means and how it will shape our industry.  Some do not think the term means anything but suppliers and consultants trying to sell the "next big thing," others simply cannot imagine how it will change their business.  Others yet, see in Industry 4.0 the next industrial revolution and try to figure out how they can take advantage of the opportunities…

At this workshop, we will explain Industry 4.0, its origins, its promises, and its challenges.  In fact, we see Industry 4.0 as the sum of four disruptions: the astonishing rise in data volumes, computational power, and connectivity, especially new low-power wide-area networks; the emergence of analytics and business-intelligence capabilities; new forms of human-machine interaction such as touch interfaces and augmented-reality systems; and improvements in transferring digital instructions to the physical world, such as advanced robotics and 3-D printing.  All those trends individually do not make a revolution (the 4th in manufacturing, after the lean revolution in the 1970s, the outsourcing in the 1990s, and the automation since 2000), but their combined effect on how we do things can correctly be called a "revolution."  We will give you the background and show you examples how industry 4.0 is changing things in our industry and how you can take advantage of this new way of doing things.

Learn more about this subject by attending the "Industry 4.0 - The Future of Manufacturing" session at the IWF 2016 Education Conference.



9. May 2016 09:18


By: Eugene Wengert, President: The Wood Doctor's Rx, LLC

Quality loss due to machining issues can be very expensive.  If the piece must be discarded, this is expensive because the wood piece has a great deal of processing time and effort (translated as money) into it prior to the development of a defect.  If the defective piece is repairable, the time and effort of making the repair is expensive.  Some machining defects are due to poor drying (including incorrect MC).  Some defects are due to characteristics or properties of the wood itself (such as tension wood or grain angle).  Some defects are due to machine issues (feed speed, knife angels, etc.).  The basics of wood machining are discussed so that the attendee can easily zero in on the basic causes of the defects.

Come here more about this subject at the "Rx for Machining Wood: Practical Tips and Troubleshooting Defects" session at IWF 2016.


Lessons from Automotive Suppliers for Wood Products Manufacturer

5. May 2016 12:42

Lessons from Automotive Suppliers for Wood Products Manufacturers

By: Urs Buehlmann, VT; Mathias Schmitt, White Rock LLC; and Omar Espinoza, University of Minnesota

Ever wondered how you make a living when selling components to car manufacturers?  If you are dealing with car manufacturers, you are dealing with billion dollars companies that can choose and pick the supplier that offers the best value.  Even once you have established the connection to a manufacturer, you will face constant pressure to lower your price and face the constant danger that your customer will choose another company as the supplier of what you are selling.

Considering these situations, you may feel a little more comfortable dealing with the typical woodworking industry customer, local builders, architects, or even private customer who buy from you, but none of them big enough to create a crisis in your company if they drop out.

However, maybe there are lessons that can be learned from the tough competition reigning in the car manufacturing supplier business?  This workshop will focus on describing managements tools used by automotive suppliers to survive in their cutthroat business environment.  Serving a market that encompasses numerous suppliers but only very few, large buyers force suppliers to be highly competitive on a global scale.  What tools are such supplier`s using to achieve this level of performance?

We will show examples ranging from Lean, to Six Sigma, to Kepner Tregoe to describe how automotive suppliers continuously improve their performance to sustain their business.  The application of these tools to woodworking companies will then be discussed.

 No corporation needs to be convinced that in today’s scale-driven, technology-intensive global economy, partnerships are the supply chain’s lifeblood. Companies, especially in developed economies, buy more components and services from suppliers than they used to. The 100 biggest U.S. manufacturers spent 48 cents out of every dollar of sales in 2002 to buy materials, compared with 43 cents in 1996, according to Purchasing magazine’s estimates. Businesses are increasingly relying on their suppliers to reduce costs, improve quality, and develop new processes and products faster than their rivals’ vendors can. In fact, some organizations have started to evaluate whether they must continue to assemble products themselves or whether they can outsource production entirely. The issue isn’t whether companies should turn their arms-length relationships with suppliers into close partnerships, but how. Happily, the advice on that score is quite consistent: Experts agree that American corporations, like their Japanese rivals, should build supplier keiretsu: close-knit networks of vendors that continuously learn, improve, and prosper along with their parent companies. (Incidentally, we don’t mean that companies should create complex cross holdings of shares between themselves and their suppliers, the way Japanese firms do.) [FROM HBR 2004]

See more on this topic at the "Lessons from Automotive Supplier for Wood Products Manufacturer" session at the IWF 2016 Education Conference.


Colour Road Trend

4. May 2016 12:13

Colour Road trend – ‘Wind Poems’

By: Verena Becker, Corporate Design Management: RENOLIT SE

The environment we live in is in constant flux. Wherever you look – economic structures, social frameworks or the balance of political power – change is happening.
Needless to say this sea of dynamics influences trends, so it is no coincidence that the color and home trends for 2016/17 are influenced by a natural phenomenon that is in continuous movement, THE WIND.

During our sesssion "Discover the Moving Power of Colors", there will be a trend presentation "Colour Road 2016/17", in which we will discover different phenomena of wind - in words, in images, and of course in colors.

Ostensibly, the theme is all about the wind. However, at a metaphorical level, it touches on the profound changes happening around the world.

I would like to invite you traveling the Colour Road from fashion runways to their implications on interior colors and design trends.


Color Trends with John West of Color Marketing Group

4. May 2016 11:39

Click on the link below to check out the video below on Color Trends from John West of Color Marketing Group who will be co -presenting "Discover the Moving Power of Colors" session at the IWF 2016 Education Conference.


Color Trends - Video Link



Support Direct Reports’ Development

2. May 2016 13:11

Support Direct Reports’ Development

Cyndi Gave, President : The Metiss Group

For most, a new beginning brings on a renewed commitment to personal development and self-improvement.

Leaders should constantly be encouraging their direct reports to continually pursue personal and professional development (this should be covered during each quarterly review).  Based on this encouragement, chances are direct reports have personal and/or professional development goals in mind.

When leaders are presented with their direct report's development goal, their job is to help identify resources, provide encouragement, and hold them accountable (then get out of the way).  The resources a leader provides can be financial (reimbursement for expenses), contacts (people the leader knows who can help), or their experiences (how they developed in a particular area).  Leaders are not responsible for the development, just making sure their direct reports have what they need to achieve their goals.

Leaders who empower their direct reports to develop by assisting with resources, cheering them on, and following up on progress experience more success.



1. May 2016 13:37


By: Eugene Wengert, President: The Wood Doctor's Rx, LLC

Certainly, you want to make sure that you “get what you pay for.”  So, how is this done?  Certainly, the grading rules for hardwood lumber from the NHLA are a key factor.  Softwood rules are not as detailed.  In this session, we will review some of the finer points of NHLA Lumber Grading Rules.  We will discuss certification.  We will also go into detail on other characteristics of lumber could be important to you but are not part of the Rules.  LEARN THE FACTS ABOUT GARDES.

Come learn more about this topic at Analyzing Incoming Lumber session at the IWF 2016 Education Conference.



29. April 2016 10:04


By: Eugene Wengert, President: The Wood Doctor's Rx, LLC

Every glue joint (edge joints or laminated joints) as the potential to be much stronger than the wood itself.  So, a glue joint should never fail- -in manufacturing and in use.  The wood should be the weak link that fails.  But glue joints do fail, although some operations might have only a dozen failures per year.  Learn how to make a strong joint and learn techniques for troubleshooting defects from two of the world’s leading PRACTICAL experts on gluing wood.  We will give you some guidelines, rules of thumb, and practical ideas from our years of experience.

Come learn more about this topic at Rx FOR GLUING WOOD- -PRACTICAL TIPS AND TROUBLESHOOTING DEFECTS session at the IWF 2016 Education Conference.


Selection Processes Reduce Chances Of Poor Hires

29. April 2016 09:53

Selection Processes Reduce Chances Of Poor Hires

Cyndi Gave, President : The Metiss Group

Select (verb) – To choose in preference to another or others; pick out (Random House Dictionary).

Process (noun) – A series of actions, changes, or functions bringing about a result (Random House Dictionary).

A selection process should consist of a series of actions to bring about an ideal choice of candidates.  Many leaders rely on intuition, gut instinct, or some haphazard interview approach when choosing among candidates.  The best hiring managers use a defined, repeatable process for selecting talent.

The selection process should include three phases:

1.  Job and ideal candidate definition;

2.  Candidate screening;

3.  Candidate evaluation.

Define the job and ideal candidate in the definition phase clarifying what is expected of the job and what the ideal candidate will look like.  The screening phase should include consistent behavior-based questioning and assessments that tie back to the job and candidate definitions.  The evaluation phase should analyze gaps and discrepancies between observed candidate behavior and job and candidate requirements.

Hiring managers should define the steps in the selection process, stick to them, and empower those in the selection process for success.