June 8, 2010

The Blog from 9,306 Miles Away

By Paul Bieber

If this headline doesn’t pique your interest, you need to spend more time unwinding…and cut down on your caffeine. Read on. A couple of weeks back I asked for volunteer bloggers to send me a column. I have received many. The following blog is from Ian Barker of Christchurch, New Zealand. I will tell you more about Ian and his connection to our glass industry after you read his column. I know you will put this one up on your bulletin board.

A few weeks ago I was fortunate to do my first ever skydiving jump with my brother. Its a sport where you are dependent on others for your safety, and trust is paramount.

At the after function I met one of my brothers friends, a 28 year old women who recently competed in a four way team (4 skydivers) at the nationals. Just prior to the event she hurt her right shoulder so badly she was unable to pull her parachute ripcord. Her gear was changed to a left hand ripcord pull and they continued their training and entered the tournament. During the tournament she hurt her left shoulder in a similar way which meant she was unable to pull her parachute ripcord with either hand. Not wanting to let the team down, she agreed to do the 4 way jumps, complete all the formational work, then wait for one of her team mates to pull her ripcord for her.

How’s that for trust and team work!

I’m fortunate that I get to see how a lot of different glass companies operate. The glass companies with the best teams tend to be the most successful. The companies with employees who show a “skydiving” commitment to support their work team and get the job done are few and far between, and mostly the business owners.

Why is it that most young people are more committed to their sport, friends, families and personal interests than they are to the companies which employ them? As a young employee 20 years ago I was as passionate and proud of my employers results as I was of my own results within the company. I worked extra hard for the good of the company, and if I needed to, I would take risks. I trusted my team mates to pull my work ripcord, just as they did of me. Together we celebrated some wonderful successes.

Now as a father I see my kids and their friends becoming increasingly self obsessed, less trustful of their friends, and being less “team” oriented than I was at their age. Young glass industry employees often have these same traits.

Looking forward I wonder with some concern who the glass industry leaders will be in the years ahead. In my generation there is a glut of us all fighting for the roles and success. Today’s youngsters with that same fighting spirit may find the path an easier walk, to the detriment of their personal development and the economy. Talks with youngsters about these issues fall on deaf ears.

One ray of hope is a young man who has befriended me. He can see and appreciate the bonds I have with some close friends and work colleagues and wants this for his life. I’ve unwittingly become a role model. Perhaps some of the issues of the younger generation can be linked to the inability of my generation to sell ourselves as role models for the youngsters.

So, the challenge I put to you is to find a keen youngster and instill in them the virtues that my generation has learnt but poorly passed on. Those of team work, trust, and the pleasure that can come from a motivated work team. Tell the skydiving story and offer to pull the youngsters work ripcord for them. See where that leads you …..

Great thoughts, thank you Ian.

Ian works as a Director of The Glass Racking Company, www.theglassrackingcompany.com, a manufacturer of handling and processing equipment for the glass industry. Check out their website. It’s cool.