March 2, 2010

RepairClinic.com Warehouse

Posted in Career, Children, Organization, RepairClinic.com, Women, Work tagged , at 8:14 am by Liliana

Kim Messer in the RepairClinic.com Warehouse

Kim Messer in the RepairClinic.com Warehouse

RepairClinic.com has a 50,000 square foot warehouse in the back of its building in Canton, MI. It is a highly automated, modern operation, storing thousands of appliance parts. Thirty-four employees work hard to make the place run efficiently and ship any order that comes in by 6:30 pm the very same day.

All of us at RepairClinic are proud of our warehouse. We are also proud of the woman who runs it. Kim Messer is a force to be reckoned with. Her smile and youthful appearance disguise a tireless leader and a skillful manager. Always open to new suggestions, better ideas, and operational improvements, Kim is fearless with new technologies, and there is nothing she is afraid to learn. She is continually thinking of new ways to make room on the warehouse shelves, to save space, to save money, to improve production, and to make life easier for her employees.

At home, with a husband and four kids, Kim keeps just as busy. She is a golfer, and loves to read and to travel. And just to make life more interesting, she is finishing her degree at Eastern Michigan University, taking two classes each semester. How does she do it?  She does it all with good humor and grace.

March 1, 2010

Working together at RepairClinic.com

Posted in Career, RepairClinic.com, Work tagged , , , , , , at 8:02 am by Liliana

Working well as a team

Working well as a team

At RepairClinic.com teamwork is valued highly. The most effective way to accomplish this result is when the people involved synchronize their contributions and efforts towards a common goal. With mutual support, a sense of ownership towards their roles, and by collaborating in using their talents and experiences, each member contributes to the success of the team.  The relations of the members must be based on trust, honesty  and respect. Every person’s point of view should be heard, their skills acknowledged. Conflict should be recognized as part of human nature and treated as an opportunity to hear new ideas and opinions. Each member should be allowed to participate equally in the decision-making process but also understand that the leader might need to make the final decision.

Steps towards accomplishing this goal:

  • Clarify team roles and support flexibility.
  • Clarify priorities and deadlines.
  • Discuss changes.
  • Be aware of each other’s workload.
  • Recognize and acknowledge each other’s efforts.
  • Improve physical environment and comfort.
  • Develop communication, negotiation and conflict management skills.
  • Encourage your coworkers to be active and incorporate some exercise in the daily routine.
  • Pay attention to your own needs and feelings.  Pay attention to the feelings and needs of others.
  • Make connections – good relationships with coworkers are important.
  • Accept help – support from those around you can help reduce stress.
  • Priorities – set realistic goals and take small steps to deal with tasks one at a time.
  • Keep things in perspective –  avoid blowing events out of proportion.
  • Take action – make a decision to address the underlying cause of the stress.
  • When mistakes are made, be forgiving and compassionate – towards yourself as well as others.

February 23, 2010

Good Work Practice at RepairClinic.com

Posted in Health, RepairClinic.com, Work tagged , , , , , , , at 7:54 am by Liliana

Safe ergonomics

Safe ergonomics

  • Take regular breaks from your workstation – at least every 30 minutes.
  • Vary tasks so you are not typing for extended periods of time.
  • Change your posture as frequently as you can.
  • Avoid eye strain when using the computer:  focus on an object in the distance at least 20 feet away every 10-15 minutes.
  • Take your lunch break away from your desk.
  • Go for a walk outside for 15-20 minutes every day.
  • Make sure your chair is adjusted to support your lower back – use safe sitting posture.
  • Make sure that your chair is in good working order – do not use a chair that needs maintenance.
  • Switch the computer mouse to the other hand regularly.
  • Place frequently used items near you.

February 15, 2010

Job Loss

Posted in Career, Family, Good people, Money, Work tagged , , , , at 8:02 am by Liliana

Joe - on to a new adventure

Joe - on to a new adventure

Last week my brother-in-law, Joe, lost his job. He has worked for a book retail company for fifteen years, but business has not been going well for a while now. These are transitional times, and crossing  junctures is never easy.

Joe is close to fifty years old and he has invested the best years of his career in an industry that is becoming outdated. What does one do? Joe has many talents. He is a masterful and creative writer, an excellent judge of books and he speaks several languages. He has proven to be a patient and understanding manager, and he gets things done. But he is also a kind and gentle man, full of empathy and limitless capacity to see into the souls of others. He is honest to a fault and the duplicity of corporate dealings has left him drained and disillusioned. He is ready to move on.

So, even though Joe’s job loss is frightening and disorienting for him and his family, it also feels like an opportunity. Now he can consider what he would really like to do with the rest of his life and not just settle for the easiest answers. For the last few years Joe has been deliberately analyzing and appraising his alternatives, trying to bring his options and  his affinities to the same page.

Somewhere on this journey of discovery, Joe realized that teaching has always been a part of his life. His mother was a teacher and this is a calling that has always appealed to him. This insight has made all the difference in easing the transition and Joe has decided that he wants to  be a high school teacher. His managerial skills came in handy in researching the program that is right for him. Today, he heard that he was accepted into the University of Michigan Education Program (MAC.) His family is convinced that he will be a glorious teacher.

February 12, 2010

February Staff Meeting at RepairClinic.com

Posted in Company Meetings, Food, Recipes, RepairClinic.com, Work tagged , , , , at 8:01 am by Liliana

February staff meeting at RepairClinic.com

February staff meeting at RepairClinic.com

February staff meeting at RepairClinic.com came a day after a big snowstorm. Outside, the wind was blowing freezing drifts of snow, the roads were slippery, and huge chunks of ice were hanging from the roof of our building. Inside, we were having a potluck chili cook-off.

Raina, our young events coordinator, invited employees to bring in a pot of their own chili or soup recipe and share with everyone. The response was overwhelming. Early in the morning, people started bringing in their crock pots and plugging them into outlets in the kitchens or the empty cubicles. The wonderfully comforting aroma of meat, ham, tomato sauce, chicken and beans was dispersed throughout the building. It was not easy to wait until lunchtime.

At 12:30, everything was ready for our hungry group. Tables had clean tablecloths, and there were vases of yellow daffodils, giving us hope that spring was not too far away. The buffet table had a wide variety of colorful pots and each had a different dish inside. Here are some of the choices on our menu: heart attack chili; venison stew; lasagna soup; creamy potato soup; vegetarian chili; split pea soup with ham; buffalo chicken soup; while chicken chili; tortilla soup; fifteen bean soup with ham; hot and sweet sirloin beef chili; hash brown soup, and more. Little cups were provided so that people could try a verity of dishes. And on the side, we had chips, bread, and lots of delicious desserts.

Prizes were distributed, people recognized and the state of the company reported on. January was a good month and we were all excited about the new year. With all the bustling and energy at RepairClinic this winter, the warm days of spring will be here before we know it.

February 9, 2010

RepairClinic.com Hero Awards

Posted in Good people, Organization, RepairClinic.com, Work tagged at 8:07 am by Liliana

RepairClinic.com Heroes

RepairClinic.com Heroes

Years ago we started a program at RepairClinic.com that we call the Hero Awards. There is a section on our internal communication system – the Intranet – where any employee can go and recommend another person for a kind and helpful act. Once a month, at our company lunch, one name is drawn out of the nominated group, and that person is awarded a prize. Everyone looks forward to seeing who the winner will be!

These are some of the nice things people did for each other at RepairClinic during the month of January:

  • Ruben helped Brittany and Veronica decipher customer’s handwriting so a check could be processed.
  • Robert helped Katicia ship a personal package.
  • Dave helped Erika by filling her car tires with air so she could feel safe driving on a long trip.
  • When Ruben had problems with his car, he got help from three co-workers: Jim notified him that he had a flat tire; Malissa let him borrow her car; and Dave let him borrow his tools.
  • Jayce helped Cindy by checking for her and making sure that an order was correct.
  • Samer helped Malissa many times in the camera room by picking up the really big parts that need to be photographed.
  • Dave replaced the sensor on Tom’s truck.
  • Brittany helped Tim by restarting his computer – it had locked up while he was working from home.
  • Ruben stopped at Minerva’s house to deliver something that she had forgotten – it was snowing and the roads were ugly and he didn’t want her to drive.
  • Stephen helped Victoria clean her car after the big snowstorm.
  • Cassandra assisted Stephanie by taking over a call from an angry customer.
  • Scott does kind and helpful things all the time and Stephanie is grateful that he cleaned the snow from her car
  • Ruben noticed that Cindy’s car tire was low and made sure to tell her so.

Thank you for making this company a very special place!

January 26, 2010

A bad, awful day

Posted in Career, RepairClinic.com, Work tagged , at 8:11 am by Liliana

Cloudy day

Cloudy day

On certain days, it is difficult to find even a sliver of grace. Petty, annoying little things wear at us, like the interminable drip of a leaky faucet, until all our resistance has broken away. Last week I had one of those days.

I did not sleep well the night before as I had a lot on my mind.  We were out of groceries  and all I could find for breakfast was some sugary cereal I didn’t like. It was a cold, damp morning, and my car was out of gas, so I had to stop and fill it up. I came to work at RepairClinic.com, tired and with a slight cold. I felt I needed to  accomplish a lot and I felt stressed and overwhelmed. I was not in a good mood.

I made a cup of hot tea, sat down at my computer, and tried to change the tide of the day. I checked my calendar, planned out my projects, then wrote and posted my daily blog entry.  Just as I started, a warning message flashed on my computer – “You are infected with a virus!”

Yes I was! My computer was completely paralyzed. I called Brett, our IT expert, and he shook his head. It was a bad virus, and there was no way to uninstall it. My entire computer would have to be cleaned and rebuilt.

So, the entire day I had to work on a very old computer that our department keeps around for emergencies. It had none of the graphic or design programs I needed. I wrote  and worked on content but had no email and could get none of my projects done. People kept coming over to see if I had finished this or that, but I had finished nothing.

I couldn’t wait for the day to be over, to have dinner with my family and relax in the warmth of my home. I called Jeff to tell him that I was on my way. Well, he said, don’t rush, things are a little cold at home. Why? The power had gone out early in the afternoon and the house was  dark and freezing! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr….

January 21, 2010

Chili for Dinner

Posted in Food, Health, Recipes, RepairClinic.com, Work tagged , , , at 8:01 am by Liliana

Vegetarian Black-Bean Chili

Vegetarian Black-Bean Chili

If you can’t think of what to have for dinner tonight, try this simple chili recipe. It is healthy, delicious, and will warm you up on a cold winter evening. I have made it  a number of times at home and in our RepairClinic kitchen. It was a success every time.

Vegetarian Black-Bean Chili

Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients

* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 small onion, diced
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* Coarse salt and ground pepper
* 2 zucchini, sliced
* 2 carrots, thinly sliced
* 1 tablespoon chili powder
* 1 teaspoon ground cumin
* 2 cans (19 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
* 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
* 1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn kernels, thawed

Directions

1. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes.
2. Add zucchini, carrots, chili powder, and cumin. Cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots are crisp-tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes, corn, and 1 cup water. Simmer until slightly thickened and carrots are soft, 8 to 10 minutes more.

January 20, 2010

Healthy Options at RepairClinic.com

Posted in Health, RepairClinic.com, Work tagged at 6:54 am by Liliana

STAND fruit baskets

STAND - Stepping To a New Direction - Health and Wellness committee at ReairClinic.com

A year ago we started a Health and Wellness program at RepairClinic. None of us had much experience in this kind of project, but we felt that something needed to be done. We have about 130 employees. Some are overweight and most eat fast food and drink lots of pop. A number of people have health issues – high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart problems, and diabetes.

Shari and Felicia (both from IT) became the driving force behind the idea and we formed a committee. The first thing we did was start competing with the vending machines. Shari bought a beautiful basket and we filled it with fresh, seasonal fruit. Felicia went to Sam’s Club and bought healthy snacks in bulk – granola bars, popcorn and nuts. We sold everything on an honor system – $.25 for a piece of fruit, $.50 for each snack.

The next front was working out. On the second floor of our building we already had a workout room, but few people used it. They weren’t sure how to use the machines, and everyone felt awkward about starting first. Shari called around and found Ryan, a personal trainer. He started coming during lunch hour, three days a week. The greater number of people who signed up, the less the sessions cost per person. One year into our program, Ryan has a faithful following.

Third, we went after weight. We put up fliers asking if there was interest in Weight Watchers. There was. Since we had a substantial group, the Weight Watchers representative came to our building and held meetings once a week during lunchtime. We encouraged and cheered each other on. Collectively, our group of 15 lost close to 300 pounds in the last six months.

Last, we formed a walker’s club. I love to walk. Most days around two in the afternoon, I am ready for some sunlight and fresh air. So every workday, even on the coldest days, we go out walking. We walk around our building and the large parking lot. It is good exercise and it’s very energizing for both body and mind.

The steps to wellness that our company has taken are not time consuming or expensive. Still, they show our employees that we care about their health, and that there is a different way of doing things. We have many more ideas for 2010. People are excited. They are coming up with suggestions of their own. Everyone has an investment in this project.

January 15, 2010

Monthly Staff Meetings at RepairClinic.com

Posted in Company Meetings, Food, RepairClinic.com, Work tagged at 8:03 am by Liliana

RCC Staff Meeting

Staff Meeting at RepairClinic.com, January 14th

Once a month, all employees at RepairClinic.com get together for lunch. The main dishes are a treat at the company’s expense, and employees are encouraged to bring desserts to share. For a long time, it was my job to organize and implement these events, but this week I have passed this task on to my coworker, Raina. We have nearly 130 employees, so making sure that everyone leaves happy and contented is no easy task; still, most of the time everything runs smoothly. Every month we order from a different restaurant, and this time it is Italian food. There is nothing like pasta to warm one up on a cold January day.

We have a large meeting room with tables, chairs and refrigerators (for cold pop and water.) We cover the tables with plastic table cloths and decorate with vases of fresh flowers. The food is presented buffet style, and at 12:30 pm on the dot, people start lining up. Plates are filled  and people sit and eat and converse with each other. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed. When everyone is done eating, Mike, our  Accounting chief, will get up and distribute various prizes: we have Hero awards for those who have done something above and beyond the call of duty; we have Sales Contests; we have raffles for those who bring food to share.

After this, Larry, our CEO, will give his State of the Company presentation. He will let us know how our company is doing, status of particular projects, and upcoming initiatives. People are encouraged to stay informed and to ask questions so that their voices are heard and their ideas considered. It is good to know what the different departments are planning and how it will affect all of us.

Once the meeting is over, everyone takes a few things and carries them to the kitchen so the cleanup is quick and efficient. We leave the leftovers for the later shift and for everyone to enjoy through the afternoon. I myself pile up a dessert plate with goodies, and savor  them with a cup of tea all afternoon. Then I try to be good until the next staff meeting.

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