Attitude Can Impact Your Recovery and Help You Survive

  • Howie Fenton
  • |
  • March 03, 2021
Can Do Attitude image

There are a wide variety of issues that can cause business to slow; most often it is economic recessions and in the last year it has been the COVID pandemic. Although the circumstances are different, the results for many companies are the same. Business is down and cost cutting is front of mind. Unfortunately, that means that departments within companies are under a microscope. In these situations, sometimes it can be the smallest things that can make the difference. In the last year we have written about planning your recovery. In this article, we are going to talk about one of the small things, best described as a good attitude, that can make the difference in keeping the doors open.

In the December 2013 issue of In-Plant Impressions Magazine, Ken Macro, a professor at Cal Poly, wrote an article entitled, "A New Rap for a New Era." I remember this article vividly, not only because of the marketing content, but because of a blue "call out" box in the article called the BOB Award. The BOB award was created by a printer in Canada who named it after company founder. The award was presented to staff who demonstrated a good attitude or, more precisely, a can-do attitude.

Admittedly many parts of that article are different than our current situation. It was about a commercial printer in another country, not experiencing a pandemic, and it focused on the sales department. However, in one way it is very relevant, and in fact timeless, because it focused on the importance of a good attitude. In my work analyzing and benchmarking in-plant performance, I talk to a lot of administrators who decide the fate of the in-plant. These administrators, like their in-plants, are different in terms of products, services, and the size of the in-plant.

However, in some other ways they are similar because they share certain common denominators. One is the importance they place on their managers demonstrating a good attitude. Obviously, a good attitude can mean many things but most use terms such as striving for customer satisfaction, maintaining the desire to produce quality products, and being a good steward of the company’s investment.

Be a Good Steward of Your Parent's Investments

Being a good steward is easy when business is good but much harder when we are facing a downturn such as a recession or the current pandemic. This has become more important for me in a current project where the in-plant purchased an expensive new offset press a few years ago only to find volumes steadily declining as many of their main products switched to electronic alternatives.

Downturns in business often shine a light and magnify these business issues resulting in the scrutiny by the parent company. Often when the administration is faced by the choice to close the in-plant or try to turn it around, one factor that weighs heavily in the decision is their trust in the manager's attitude. Fortunately, in this assignment, the manager was not defensive about potential cuts or changes, but instead wanted to do what was in the best interest of the parent company. In short, he had a good attitude and the in-plant remained, although they discontinued offset printing.

Good and Bad Attitudes

It is not hard to recognize good and bad attitudes. On one assignment the in-plant manager of a school district in California refused to cooperate with an assessment to overcome a 6-week production backlog. In his opinion there was no need for outside help because he knew more about his operation than anyone else. Once we quantified the demand, capacity, and the reduction to a 3-week backlog that would result from new printing equipment and a new plant layout, he was happy. Unfortunately, his bad attitude ultimately resulted in his firing.

I see many more examples of a good attitudes. A frequent situation is that an assessment finds that the industry financial and operational benchmarks are below industry standards, typically because of production inefficiencies. Recommendations about increasing productivity to reduce manufacturing time and cost are usually meet with good attitudes. Dave Bryson, Print Shop Manager for Hillsboro Schools in Hillsboro, Oregon wanted to add Web to print software to increase efficiencies and reduce touches.  He recognized that the shop touching jobs that took 20 seconds to produce was not a value-add. The best way to automate print production tasks such as estimating, job ticketing, customer service, prepress and billing is with software such as Web to Print, Print MIS, output management, and prepress PDF workflow software.


Having a "good" attitude means many different things. In this article shared examples of being a good steward of the parent's investment in the in-plant and not being defensive, an in-plant with a "bad" attitude and an in-plant with a healthy attitude about increasing productivity using software automation.

While all evidence points to an economic recovery, the impact of the pandemic continues to ravage most companies and their in-plants. If yours is like most businesses, you may have already been scrutinized but there is no guarantee that it is over. Even though you may be under pressure and facing tough choices, you should keep in mind the BOB award. While attitude may be considered a small thing, it matters a lot to those in charge.

Get More Examples of the Impact of Attitude on Print Shops

Tips and examples of how other shops have benefited from a positive attitude are just a contact away from me or RSA.

Hear first-hand a conversation with the State of Colorado and Hillsboro Schools in-plant managers that includes more examples of good attitudes in the March 17th webinar, "Workflow Automation's Role in Post-COVID Recovery."

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About the Author

Howie Fenton

Howie Fenton is an independent consultant and trusted advisor to in-plant printers. He recommends equipment, best practices and workflow automation tools to streamline operations. To learn more about measuring performance, benchmarking to leaders, and improving your value e-mail

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