Humanizing Manufacturing with Neil Scanlon and Rafal Dybacki


We are delighted to have Neil Scanlon and Rafal Dybacki on today's episode.  They were highly recommended to us as guests because of their authentic and truly humans-first leadership. They embody their company cover values in everything they do as a company, and live by them daily.   As leaders, they show vulnerability, humility, and a true growth mindset, knowing they are constantly learning from other people, and in their own journeys.  Neil and Rafal are motivated to bring positive change, and have successfully humanized their organization in everything they do.

References from the episode:

  1. Ricardo Semler author of Maverick https://www.amazon.com/Maverick-Success-Behind-Unusual-Workplace/dp/0446670553.  On employees being happy when they pull into the parking lot in the morning.

  2. Entreleadership Podcast various episodes on the concept of the CRO Chief Reminiding Officer, and on working in the business vs. on the business.

  3. Netflix No Rules Rules https://www.amazon.com/No-Rules-Netflix-Culture-Reinvention/dp/1984877860, example of 360 process that Neil and Rafal had already been applying

 

Credits: Raechel Sherwood for Original Score Composition.

Links:
YouTube Channel: Uncover The Human

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/wearesiamo

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wearesiamo/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WeAreSiamo

Website: https://www.wearesiamo.com/

Transcript

EPISODE 96

Alex Cullimore: Hello, Cristina.

Cristina Amigoni: Hello, podcast day. It’s officially podcast day.

Alex Cullimore: Yeah, podcast day, indeed. I think it’s been podcast two. I think we almost like ran our pipeline out, and then suddenly we had like five recordings and everybody was available at the end of October, early November.

Cristina Amigoni: Yeah. In time for the holidays. They’re going to go back down with the holidays.

Alex Cullimore: I hope. I hope people take some time off. I hope people get some rest, because man, it's been a year. Very fun one. And speaking of fun one, this conversation was incredibly cool. I'm so glad we get to share this. We got stuck to the – well, I guess, they bought out and now are the President and CFO of Worthington assembly, and that is Neil Scanlon and Rafal Dybacki. Wow, they really embody the growth mindset of just, “Hey, what can we improve? And what can we do?” They work in manufacturing, and is the most human business I have gotten to hear about, like, firsthand, in sometime, I mean, short a bit. I think they should be a case study.

Cristina Amigoni: Yes, yeah. Maybe that's our next step with them is can we write a case study of you guys? It's incredible. I mean, talk about having core values, and embodying them to the point where in a one-hour podcast conversation, you can actually feel them, living them, even just in a conversation with us, talking about humility, and they're humble throughout the conversation. And they're constantly saying, “We're not the experts. We're learning from other people. We heard this in a podcast. We didn't make it up. We don't know everything. Our people know more than we do.”Honesty, even just a simple definition of like, and by honesty, and we don't just mean don't lie, that's a given. So, thank you for clarifying that. Because sometimes that's not even a given, when honesty is a core value. But it means having the courage to have the honest conversations with each other about feedback, and they have a whole system around it. So, it's not just once a year, it's not just for the people that have the courage to do it, or have the face, the bronze face, we say in Italian, to just go and tell somebody off whenever they feel like it. Everybody has to do it, all the time. And it's a habit, things like chief reminding officers. I’m taking that one, I don't care who said it first.

Alex Cullimore: That's fantastic.’

Cristina Amigoni: But I’m definitely taking it. It’s the rule.

Alex Cullimore: I think they would probably correct me if I said, they have so many ideas, they would say that they've gathered a lot of ideas from a lot of people. But regardless, they are the ones who have implemented it in their corner of the world and it's incredible. So, if we can quantify how they've done it and help other people achieve it, I think we can – there's kind of sky's the limit feeling on that one. So, this is a very exciting conversation. So glad we got to have it. We actually were recommended. We mentioned this in the podcast, but we were recommended to talk to them by one of their employees, and I think that has to be a first. I mean, somebody advocating that part is incredible.

Cristina Amigoni: It never happens. Please go talk to my CEO and my President, because they're awesome. I mean, that's the first time.

Alex Cullimore: Man, I'm so jazzed, I think I'm probably going to verge on sounding insincere at some point. But it's so exciting to see this happen.

Cristina Amigoni: There's hope.

Alex Cullimore: I can’t really get enough of that.

Cristina Amigoni: For the world of work. We found the sparkle of hope. It does work to humanize workplaces. in many ways, over and over and over. It's not just in our heads.

Alex Cullimore: So, please enjoy this conversation with Neil and Rafal.

Cristina Amigoni: Enjoy.

Alex Cullimore: Welcome to Uncover the Human where every conversation revolves around enhancing all the connections in our lives,

Cristina Amigoni: Whether that's with our families, coworkers, or even ourselves.

Alex Cullimore: When we can be our authentic selves, magic happens.

Cristina Amigoni: This is Cristina Amigoni.

Alex Cullimore: This is Alex Cullimore. Let's dive in.

Authenticity means freedom.”

“Authenticity means going with your gut.”

“Authenticity is bringing 100% of yourself not just the parts you think people want to see, but all of you.”

“Being authentic means that you have integrity to yourself.”

“It's the way our intuition is whispering something deep-rooted and true.”

“Authenticity is when you truly know yourself. You remember and connect to who you were before others told you who you should be.”

“It's transparency, relatability. No frills. No makeup. Just being.”

Alex Cullimore: Welcome back to this episode of Uncover the Human. We are joined with two guests. Today we have Neil Scanlon and Rafal Dybacki. Welcome Neil and Rafal to the podcast.

Neil Scanlon: Alex.

Rafal Dybacki: Good morning. Thank you.

Cristina Amigoni: Good morning. Welcome.

Alex Cullimore: We're very excited to have this conversation. You guys have a very interesting structure going, but before we dive into that, would you guys mind just tell us a little bit about your story. What got you here?

Neil Scanlon: Sure. Well, my name is Neil Scanlon. The co-owner of Worthington Assembly. We are a contract manufacturer for circuit board assemblies. What that means is we provide the service of buying circuit board components. And we have all this robotics in great, this amazing team of people that assemble this stuff and that's a service we provide.

Alex Cullimore: That's great. And, Rafal, anything you want to add on that?

Rafal Dybacki: My name is Rafal Dybacki. That's exactly what we do, he just said.

Alex Cullimore: So, what led you guys there? As people, what you brought here? I mean, not even here to the podcast, here to today.

Cristina Amigoni: And to the podcast. We can get into that one too.

Neil Scanlon: We both come from a manufacturing background, Rafal and I, both. Our families have known each other since the mid-1980s. Our history, our family history, has a lot of manufacturing to it. With that, we always believed in local manufacturing, and just how important that is. Maybe not local manufacturing, but just manufacturing in general, how important it is for a local economy, and a country, everything. It's just such an important thing.

The reason why we feel it's important is because it gives folks good jobs, to provide for their families, at the very core of it, or to provide for themselves, if they don't have a family. And we believe that that's really kind of an overlooked thing. Because a lot of manufacturing jobs, it's always thought of that they’re kind of low paying, button pushers, you could say. But we felt, and I think we both had this feeling very early on, that there was a lot more to it to that and that we felt we could, with the right organization, provide really good manufacturing jobs.

Cristina Amigoni: That’s a great mission. The way you got to the podcast, it's also very interesting. One of your employees actually highly recommended to us that we talk to you, which I have to say, it's definitely a rare thing. And at first, when an employee is so passionate and so aligned with feeling human in a company, when they come to us, and they say you have to talk to our founders and our CEOs about how they do this.

Alex Cullimore: That's a striking recommendation. We'd love to know more about that and what kind of culture you guys have at Worthington?

Neil Scanlon: Well, I guess the first thing to say is that we run – I guess, to go back how it all started, right? So, we bought Worthington Assembly, Rafal and I in 2008. We were both relatively young men with very new families. We didn't have a lot of money, but we borrowed money. And yeah, asked people for help, and we got some help, and we were able to purchase this business from a husband and wife, who also helped us a lot. So, the people that sold us the business helped us a lot. So, we started with a very healthy environment, let's just say. The prior owners, we have an excellent relationship with them and always have, and the team that they had there, was just a great group of people. So, we had kind of an, I would say, an easy start. Would you agree Rafal?

Rafal Dybacki: Yeah. Tom and Barbara created, we took on and built on that foundation, for sure.

Neil Scanlon: But one of the things that would happen when we first started is folks would come to us and someone that just a really bright person would come to us and ask a simple question. It would be like, “Hey, what should I work on next? Should I work on job A or job B?” We do the obvious thing, which was, “Well, here's the answer, do job A. Because you know what to do next, right? You're the owner.” So, they come back again, “Hey, should I do job A or job B?” Maybe I've given the answer again, or Rafal would. Eventually, we started going, “Well, what do you think you should work on next?” And they would say, “Well, job A.” It's like, “Oh, yeah, I totally agree.” And then you realize, after you do this a few times, like, “Oh, my God, of course, you always know the right answer, right?” Why are you coming to me? This is very inefficient. Everything at our core is to try to be as efficient as possible. That's part of manufacturing, in the US, in the 21st century, just to be as efficient as possible, because we'll be competitive otherwise, right? With that, that's sort of what started our thinking around trying to be a decentralized organization. And so, to add to that a little bit like, “Okay, how did I know the right answer at first?” Well, I had a lot of information. Eventually, how did that person know the right answer? Well, they had a little bit more information. And so, by decentralizing the information, getting all the information out there, now you're empowering a lot more people to be able to make good decisions. Years ago, we had just an Excel spreadsheet for our schedule that was printed out. Only a few people had it or one person had it. They would kind of dole out the work instructions. And today, we have six different teams and a schedule for each of those teams, and it's all completely available for anyone on those teams to see. All 36 of our – we have, I guess, 38 people on payroll or something like that, including Rafal and I. So, they all have this information. All this information all the time, all the information, they need to always make the right decision. So, they don't have to come to me or Rafal. It's decentralizing everything. Decentralizing as much information as we possibly can.

Cristina Amigoni: I really liked that. Because I do believe that that's definitely the key. It's not just letting people have the answers, but how do you enable them to have the answers? What they need to be able to come up with the answers and then be confident with it, and even be confident in making a mistake, and knowing that that's going to be okay? So, it's not just – usually, what we see a lot and what we hear a lot, and what we've experienced is the first step of saying, “You go and answer that. You go figure it out.” But the second step of figuring out to enable that is very – it's missing. Or if it's not missing, it's not quite as deep as you described it. So, there is a lot of talk of, yes, information is available, here's all the information, it's transparent. But when you dig deeper, it's either not easy to find, or it's not all the information, it's only what I think you should know, and the rest I'm going to keep. And there's all sorts of barriers everywhere.

Rafal Dybacki: That's a true experience, work in my other places, in manufacturing. You always have this supervisor, and we decided not to have one. And so, then the question was, what makes a supervisor, a supervisor? Was, again, the knowledge and information they have to make all the decisions that they have to make throughout the day. So, since we pretty much decided not to have supervisors, we had to find a way to make the information available for everyone to make the right choices.

Alex Cullimore: So, there's a second part to that, too, you allow people to make choices, and like she was talking about, the mistakes portion. When a mistake happens, the oldest mistake we see sometimes is companies will be like, “Yeah, everybody should make the decisions that are close to you.” And then they make a decision that whatever higher up wouldn't have made. And then suddenly, they're slapped down and now there's no more safety to make that decision. So, between that, and the fact that you guys went from one spreadsheet to now six kind of decentralized teams, what was the transition like? How do how do people deal with that both you guys and your team?

Neil Scanlon: I mean, it happens slowly. So, we just, kind of out of the necessity. There was a, I don't know, just every day, there's a small incremental improvement, right?

Rafal Dybacki: It wasn't like a go date. It wasn't a transition period. It was just, “Oh, we just thought we should do this now.” But then, okay, that's a problem, then we're going to do it next. And you have to, as business owners, we have to understand errors. Everybody's going to make errors, mistakes, and it's going to cost you, because they will. So, I think the only thing that we always ask people that when you learn the mistake, is make whatever that is, make sure you learn from it. So, we don't make it again. There's no like, slap enhance, because what will be the point? At that point, this thing will not work, right? Nobody will make decisions on their own.

Alex Cullimore: You say that, so simply. So, few people do it.

Neil Scanlon: And the teams really give each other the feedback. In other words, we're not putting the pressure. So, if you mess something up, it's generally pretty visual, right? You can actually – because we're manufacturing, you can actually see the mistake, right? So, no one usually takes the mistake harder than the person that made the mistake, too. And the teams are constantly giving each other feedback, which is probably something we should probably get into a little bit, which is our core values, which we really, really operate the company with. We didn't figure this out until – we didn't start – we didn't define our core values until, I don't know, maybe five years ago, four or five years ago. And since doing that, life has gotten a lot, a lot easier. But one of the core values, it's kind of irrelevant to this, is honesty. And what we mean about honesty is not the obvious thing, like, I'm not lying, right? It's not about that. It's about –

Rafal Dybacki: Or you take that as that honesty that you already have, like given. Being a human.

Cristina Amigoni: Not lying is given. Let’s build from that.

Alex Cullimore: Let’s call it table stakes, yeah.

Rafal Dybacki: I don't have to list it as, okay, don't lie to me.

Alex Cullimore: That's usually what makes a difference for somebody who is going to lie, just a reminder.

Neil Scanlon: So, it's about having this honest feedback with each other, and we talked about – and it's from the brutal honesty, which we've stolen from Good to Great, the Jim Collins book, Good to Great, which is like brutal honesty and just how important that is. And to really – we promote it. We talk about it all the time. How important it is that if somebody is making your work difficult, or somebody is causing a small issue, whatever that might be, and maybe it's a quality thing, or maybe it's just how they're, I don't know, entering in data, whatever it is, you have to be able to talk to that person about it. And again, it's having this environment where you're not – you don't take that to the supervisor, you don't take that through Rafal and I, as the owners of the business. We take that right to the person that's actually causing the challenges or problems. It's a both way thing. So, you have to be able to take the feedback, and you have to be able to give the feedback.

Cristina Amigoni: And that's really hard. And that's probably where a lot of the honesty, beyond the not lying, fails in a lot of cases, and it's because it's hard to give the feedback and then see what the reaction may be and not want to offend somebody. And it's definitely hard to receive the feedback, and now have this cloud and darkness of like, “Oh, my God, and I'm going to be watched every single time because this is the feedback and what if I'm not good enough?” And all these things start piling up. So, how do you encourage your employees to do that without all the, I guess, the personal stuff that could get in the way?

Neil Scanlon: Well, the first thing is we talk about it a lot. I guess I'll add another thing, which is our – two things, actually. One is another core value that we have, which is humility. So, this is – I always talk about – I always think this is our number one core value, we list it first, and to me, it’s the most important is to have humility. The second thing is, we have what's called the 360-review process. So, somebody's always going through a 360 review. We don't have like a review period. It's all ongoing. So, somebody's always in when it's always happening. People are reminded of this, like every other week. So, the team is just always thinking about how important it is to give feedback to others, and to be able to take feedback well, and to be able to give feedback well, and to be humble about it.

Rafal Dybacki: It took us a while to come up with the 360 process. But right now, you can comment and give feedback on anybody within the Worthington Assembly. It's open all the time. So, if somebody does something that affects you in a wrong or good way, you can go to the forum. It's just a simple Google form. It collects all the information and we summarize or summarize information every 12 or so months, depending how many employees we have, I guess, and present that to the employee. But employees will have access to their comments on daily basis. So, you can always go to your forum and check it out, or if somebody commented on something, and it's good and bad. It's both.

Neil Scanlon: So right now, we do allow you to be – to record your name or not record their name. So, it can be anonymous or not anonymous. If it's really complicated, we allow the person to not have their name on it. We try to encourage everyone to put your name on it. And I think we do it, we just have it there or like we have it there, because we're still convinced that we're still trying to figure – and we are. We're still trying to figure this out. This is even something that works well, and we should be doing. But we think it does.

Alex Cullimore: That's a great review process. We've seen the pitfalls of having like a once a year review, which really is just like a small glimpse of the last three months. And there's no real feedback, or it's feedback from one manager, and it's very challenging to get a good picture out of that or feel like you're getting a fair shake. So, I'm curious, you mentioned like talking about honesty, is was one of the things you talked about how the importance of the brutally honest conversations. How do you go about talking about that? What kind of conversations are those?

Neil Scanlon: It's literally talking about our core values and just reminding folks – so every week or every other week, somebody's going through this process, but every other week, the team is filling out this information about another teammate. So, they do have, formally have to sit down and review all this stuff. So, it's like they're constantly being reminded. Team A, I have to do – I do have to sit down and do a formal 360 on teammate B this week, and I'm going to review that honesty thing. So, with each core value, we really define it quite a bit. So, they're having to read this, I don't want to say memorize it, but they are memorizing because they always have to do it and work on it.

Cristina Amigoni: Repetition. I really like that.

Neil Scanlon: Repetition. It's repetition. One of the things that I love that I often say is that we’re kind of chief reminding officers. We’re always reminding, reminding, reminding. And it takes people a long time to remember and learn but we always have to keep reminding.

Cristina Amigoni: That's a great term, chief reminding officers.

Neil Scanlon: I've saw it. I forget where I heard it exactly, but I have heard on a podcast before, I'm sure. But when I heard it, it just clicked. And it's like, “Hey, this is really important.” I don't do it enough myself, right? I wish I reminded people. I wish I took more time to remind people more.

Cristina Amigoni: It takes time and effort. And you get to the point where like, “Okay, I've already said it 150 times. Do I really have to say it again?” Yes. It’s always yes. 

Neil Scanlon: Yeah.

Alex Cullimore: Easiest flowchart in the world.

Neil Scanlon: You walk around with all this stuff in your head, and you're thinking about all the time and you think it's clear to everybody else, but it's not.

Alex Cullimore: That's one thing people could understand, in general. That's a good one. Everything that's in your head is not as clear as you'd love it to be outside. So, what's it like when you bring in new people? I mean, this is a great idea, great culture, and Cristina alluded to it before. There's a lot of fear of mistakes from a lot of other companies. I imagine that would be something people might carry in when they're starting with Worthington. What is that like?

Neil Scanlon: We take a lot of time with our hiring process to make sure someone's the right fit. And like everything else, we do try to be decentralized about it. So, the folks that are on the production floor, are the ones that – so depending on which team you're going to work on, or where you're going to work in the company. You will work directly with that team, as part of the interview process. So, we do what's called three day, a 30 day, and then we have the ongoing 360. So, we have a three-day 360, and then we have a 30-day 360 as well. Excuse me, it’s a three-day 360 and a 30-day 360, but they're both defined as working interviews, which sounds a little bit intense, and it is. But we feel like in order to make a decision to go work in manufacturing, you have to – especially, for just about anyone to come work for us. We feel like it's just so important that you're exposed to our culture for a period of time before making the decision to come work here. Yeah, so the three-day process will look like this, we ask that you try to – and we'll work with you. So, say you're working full time somewhere else. We'll say, “Look, can you take – is there any way you could take a few afternoons off to come work with our team?” So, you would arrive at 12 o'clock in the afternoon and work with our team until four o'clock that day. Some people are able to take a full day off and they would just literally come and work with our team for a full day. We’ll pay for this time. This is not – we're not asking you to do it for free. And really expose that person to the 360 process, our core values, all of these things right away.

Alex Cullimore: That's awesome.

Rafal Dybacki: We use the same process, same forms for a three-day, 30-day, and the rest of their career with Worthington. So, there's no deviation between the core values of the questions have been answered about the person. So, it just should stick in your head after a while.

Neil Scanlon: So, the people like that are coming to us. It's like, “Oh, wow, this is”, for real, like in other words, we always say, look – a lot of times, they'll come – I may coordinate the interview, and they'll be, they think I'm going to make the hiring decision and quickly explain to look, I'm not going to make this hiring decision, the folks that you are going to work with on this working interview, are going to have all the input, and they're the ones that are going to make the hiring decision. It's not me, it's not Rafal.

Cristina Amigoni: It's very powerful. I like how everything that you explain is, it sounds very simple, and it is simple when you do it, I guess. I mean, there is the complex ways to roll it out and measure it and make sure it works and slowly getting out there. And yet, it's one of those – it's this, and so many companies struggle with the simplicity of that. So, it’s like, “Why not?” The team that somebody has to work with make the hiring decision. Why would you do it any other way? They're the ones working with them.

Rafal Dybacki: That's exactly the logic behind it, right? So, if we started making decisions about hiring people right on the floor, we don't know like how the person will perform, but people that are making that decision already. Okay. After three days, this should work, and we go on to the 30 day. And the same process is being used if we have to let somebody go, based on the input and 360, it’s like, “Okay, maybe it's the time that we have to part ways.” And it's based on the input from the people or from the coworkers. In a sense, it's very simplistic. Logical, I should say logical.

Cristina Amigoni: Yeah, it's logical. I think, that's it. It's not simple, but it's logical. Yeah, there is no other way. Why would you expect another way to work?

Alex Cullimore: As they say, it can be simple but not easy. It might be straightforward, but it doesn't mean it's easy to do.

Rafal Dybacki: I mean, simplifying process is probably one of the hardest things to do. How do you take it to the basic elements, or actually, logically will work? That's kind of what we tried to do here, and eliminate middlemen. Like eliminating supervisors. That's the other point.

Neil Scanlon: Yeah, I mean, everything that we – both Rafal and I have worked – I don't want to say that, worked in environments that haven't been great. And one of the parts of our decision making was always like, “Oh, that was horrible when I had to go through that.” as an employee or years ago, or whatever. And how do we always kind of eliminate that?

Rafal Dybacki: When we first saw our reviews, I pretty much considered that was a total BS. I never went to any reviews after that. It’s like, I can put whatever I want. I don't care.

Cristina Amigoni: I felt the same way and being reviewed and be the reviewer. This is useless. Can we please not do this?

Rafal Dybacki: They'll add all the new changes, different reviews, depending on a company I used to work for. It's coming from the top. It's like, “Oh, we should do this now.” Now, you write your own feedback. For what? Usually, reviews are linked directly to my pay raise, and I know the budget for pay raise is 3%. I'm not going to waste my time to write paragraphs myself. Either you're going to give me race or not. So, yeah, I think that, the other thing is that reviews of the 360 reviews are not linked to pay. Like, are you on the right track to be still – are you able to work in Worthington Assembly. That's the purpose of it. But it's separate from the pay review. It's two different things.

Neil Scanlon: So, the pay review – I have to say, like all this stuff, we're kind of figuring – we're figuring out over the years. I mean, we’ve been at this for what's going to be 15 years in February. So, we're not seasoned veterans, but we're not – by no means are we experts, or have we found the best solutions, okay. But for pay raises, we figured out the best thing to do so far is to have the person that would like the raise, to schedule a meeting with us to discuss their pay, as opposed to us handing out 3% raise every year for everybody. We haven't done a cost of living increase. Everyone in the company has access to the same document, which says, if you would like a raise, here are the three things you have to do. And the first thing is schedule a meeting with us. And people do. But it's not like they do every day, and the reason why someone's not scheduling a meeting every day or every week with us, is because for the most part, they're satisfied with their pay, for the value that they're bringing in every day.In other words, I do job X, Y, Z, I feel like I'm compensated well for that job and that's the feeling we want people to have, when they arrive each day. One of our goals that we have, when we literally write it down is that, or part of our mission is to feel good when you pull in the parking lot in the morning. In our world, you do have to actually could pull into the parking lot because we're manufacturing. But when you're sitting –when you pull into that parking spot, for you to feel good. So, that part of that is paid. And that's why all of our teammates downstairs are coming in. They have to come in for pay. No one downstairs is independently wealthy, okay, they have to work.

Cristina Amigoni: I like to feel good when you pull into the parking lot piece.

Neil Scanlon: Yeah. Pay is a piece of that. It's not everything, but it's a chunk. What you do and who you work with, and how you're treated, all those things are, I think are all really tied to it.

Alex Cullimore: I really like that, just in how you guys are talking about this. And it just comes across just even over a Zoom screen, is you guys have a lot of humility in how you've approached this, and yet you're achieving some really, really interesting and really cool things here. One of the things I noticed you say, Neil, is like, we're not experts. But here's the best thing we found so far. And that growth mindset and that humility there is really awesome to see just – it's so powerful to allow ourselves to sit in a moment of, “Hey, we haven't figured it out yet, but we're going to still keep trying.” And there's more to do. Also, your conversation about the pay, having people have a conversation first, I feel like a lot of the places that I've seen would have the immediate knee jerk reaction of like, “Well, everybody's going to burst our door down all the time to ask for raises.” And this is a great example of all these fears that we create, and I don't know where this comes from, but it's also unhelpful. But that I feel like is what I would hear from all the many places that I would have worked with to be like, “Yeah, you're never going to get to have a conversation, we're going to do this once a year. And we're going to do it based, like, like you're saying, it's going to be based on the paragraphs you wrote about yourself, which set that expectation, and we're going to go defi, so good luck.” It takes a lot of kind of courage to get past that knee jerk reaction. But also, after practice, I would assume or hope that it gets a little bit easier over time for you guys to be entering this space of, “Hey, we're just going to keep trying to improve.”

Rafal Dybacki: That's what we do. And especially with the pay, because it's such a kind of difficult way of how do you pay people. What kind of value do they bring in to the organization? And it has to be a limit at some point. I mean, we are constrained by how much capacity we have in order to grow. If somebody comes over, I need $100 an hour, probably that's not going to happen. But there was no one that actually did that. Any discussions about the pay that we had so far, people will think about it, do some research, right? And that's what we want. At some point, there might be a situation that you can probably make more money with Worthington, which is totally fine. This is, again, the exercise of thinking of how much, how valuable you are for Worthington, or maybe somebody else. I think is very important, and to progress your career and maybe make more money for your family, and it doesn't have to be Worthington. We wish, you stay in work for us, but we totally understand the needs.

Cristina Amigoni: Definitely. So, how do you – I'm really fascinated by, and I totally believed in non-hierarchy structure. So, the lattice structure, the decentralized, no supervisors, everything that you're doing, and we operate very similarly within our company. And I think we probably always will, when we grow as well, just because I think I'm allergic to pyramids in general. But it's interesting too, in a world that is basically formed by hierarchy everywhere around us, how can somebody feel like they are progressing in their career without having that title that tells them or tells the world, “Look, I'm now a senior director and I was the director two years ago.” How do you see that play out in your company?

Neil Scanlon: It's a great question. I would say that, for folks that are really concerned about that, like a title, we're not the right environment for it. I mean, we're a small business. We’re growing, we’ll always grow. Well, thankfully, we've always been kind of growing, and will continue to grow. But if you're worried about what your title is, then we're not going to be the right place for you. But you can be worried about the skills you're getting, and if you kind of get to a point where you – there's no more skills for you to gain and you want more and the company can't offer it to you, then you're going – you may have to move on. So, that's okay. We understand that. But hopefully you've been, we just encouraged so much people to cross train, always try to eliminate your jobs, so you can go off and explore and learn new things for us.

Rafal Dybacki: I mean, we do have titles for outside use, I want to say. My title is CFO, Neil is the President. But our secondary titles are assembly assistance. That's what we do. So, whatever you need us to do, take trash out, if we have time, we'll do it. We have two CTOs. One is a chief technology officer, the other one is chief talent officer, but they are on a floor working as needed and hard workers. So, it's not like they have their own office. We don't even have offices. We just have two desks plopped in assembly area. So, you overhear all the conversations and people that work for us overhear a lot of our conversations. So yeah, that's probably different than anybody else. As far as titles, if a person needs a title for whatever we tend to, okay, pick one, whatever. Whatever you think is appropriate. In the past, we've been using this great website, it's called bsjobtitles.com so we can create – and we got some great titles from that. One of them was Dynamic –

Neil Scanlon: Solutions Associate.

Rafal Dybacki: Yes, Dynamic Solution. It’s perfect.

Cristina Amigoni: We're going to have to check that one out. I need to revamp my title every few months.

Rafal Dybacki: It seems like the website was designed back in early ‘90s and it stayed that way. So, it's even more fun. That's very functional, but no graphics, anything, that's perfect.

Neil Scanlon: And we actually advertise the job before dynamic solutions associate and got plenty of good resumes.

Cristina Amigoni: I really the view, that the switch to career progression is not about the title you have, and – your spot on the org chart hierarchy is, but it's about the skills that you gain, and are you able to work yourself out of your own job, which means you're gaining different skills and your you get to help, in other ways.

Rafal Dybacki: We have natural leaders. People are gaining skills faster than others, and they'll progress faster than another person. People will tend to ask questions, more of that person. It's like, and you see them rise. It naturally will happen.

Alex Cullimore: Especially for a dynamics solutions associate.

Rafal Dybacki: That's right.

Neil Scanlon: Actually, the person that took that, I mean, came to us out of college, I think in 2015. So yeah, they graduated college in 2015. Now, they're with us still in 2022. I think they've more than – literally have more than doubled their pay since they've been with us, and more than doubled their skill set and what they do, and they work on really complicated problems with customers. It's been a progression for us. He’s our program manager, his name is Brett so if anyone – and I'm sure people, any of our customers that listen to this, will know because they've had the – when they call Worthington Assembly, a lot of people don't ask for Rafal or myself, or emails that come in, but they know our team members that are much more suited to answer their questions than us.

Cristina Amigoni: So, your other core values are contribute, fun and grit. What can you tell us about those?

Neil Scanlon: Fun is obvious, I guess. We need people – what we say about fun is like just really, not take yourself too seriously. Rafal and I usually score lowest on have fun, just because we don't have that – I'm not sure.

Rafal Dybacki: I beg your pardon. I think my fun score is pretty high.

Neil Scanlon: Higher than mine.

Alex Cullimore: That the F stands for in CFO? 

Cristina Amigoni: Chief Fun Officer.

Rafal Dybacki: I could use that. Thank you.

Neil Scanlon: I guess, I should note that Rafal and I both go through the 360 process as well. So yeah, grits. This is manufacturing. And I guess, any job you need grit, right? But,I believe there's a different kind of grit and jobs like manufacturing jobs, like where you're frontlines, right? So, restaurants, hospitals, all these places where it's like, you have to be there, you have to push through to get this done. There's no like, taking those times where there's like, you just can't take a break? Because you feel like that right? You want to – there’s no working from home. There's none of this. So, in order to do that, I believe it takes a lot of grit, and we have jobs that are not fun. You might have to do something that's hard, like physically, not like – a good example is you might have to break something apart, that's very difficult to break apart and your hands are going to get tired. It's hard, right? It takes grit to be able to do that.

Rafal Dybacki: Do a same thing over and over again for hours on end, right? Because that's the job we got. And you have to be able to just do it. I mean, like you, in our situation, we have a lot of different projects that we're working on. So, it's almost never the same product that we’re building. So, there's always thinking involved like, “Okay, how do I do this or that?” But sometimes we get higher volume projects that require just sitting down for eight hours and just do the same thing over and over again until it's done. It is, like Neil said, it's manufacturing. We only get paid when the machines are moving and hands are moving. Stocks being shipped and delivered and hopefully we get paid.

Neil Scanlon: And the last is contribute. And this is what we talked about, like working on the business versus working in the business. So, working on the business means you're going to stop shipping revenue for a customer to focus on improving how we do something, right? We actually have an environment where we have to sometimes hold people back from working on the business, because they get so excited about working on the business versus working in the business. But we need everybody to be able to contribute, so it's not contribute – that's really what we mean by contribute which is like contribute to working on the business, not just in the business. So, just coming in and doing what you're told or coming in and just doing that simple task is not good enough. I am better at working in the business than on the business. Rafal is an expert in working on the business and in the business. But let me tell you –

Rafal Dybacki: I would not say that.

Neil Scanlon: But a lot of this, the foundation of lot of like the processes that we have, have come from folks that just love working on the business.

Rafal Dybacki: I think in the past companies that we work in manufacturing, a lot of the ideas that people will have doing just base tasks. They just got lost, because they will try to take – call someone, your supervisor, I mean, usually their sponsor – yeah, and you get lost. So, we try to encourage that any ideas you have. I'm not sure if we still use it. But I used to have ideas spreadsheet or Google sheet that you can put the ideas down, and then at some point, we'll review it. Because not everything can work, right? We can’t just – we won't allow people to just change processes, because they feel it's a good idea. You have to talk about it with your team. There's a little bit of a process to get it going. But we encourage all the people to come up with new ideas, the better and faster ways of doing things that makes us a lot more efficient.

Alex Cullimore: You guys have decentralized ideas, you've decentralized work, you've decentralized pay. Lattice through and through.

Neil Scanlon: Yeah. And decentralizing ideas, I mean, if you've all been in this situation, where it's like someone, “I’ve got this great idea, this and this”, and they're expecting you to take it and run with it. Right? And it's like, “Well, it's your idea. You have to take it in and run with it.” So, it's really having an environment where the person that's having the idea is able to take it and run with it. It doesn't mean they can just implement it right away. But they could take it and run with it, own it.

Rafal Dybacki: Yeah, lot of people working on any type of a line. I used to work in this healthcare company on a floor. I don't know what the term came from that, but there was a cardboard engineer, when he was like, “Oh, I can make this do a little bit faster and slower, better for me, give me some cardboard and scotch tape.” And they'll come up with something like these slides a little bit better, whatever that may be. It's a great idea and it works. But nobody kind of knows about it, or somebody comes over and just destroys that thing. Because, that's not according to the process. Can't do that.

Alex Cullimore: Whenever we talk about change, we end up splitting it and trying to help people understand there's at least three phases to this. There's the ideation phase of thinking about it, there's the activation phase of how will this actually work? How do we get the rubber to hit the road? And who else will this impact? And how do we get people on board with that? And finally, the implementation phase. So, it's very easy to try and jump from ideation to implementation. It's very easy to jump from ideation, to I really hope somebody else takes this. It's rarely jumping into the activation phase of like, how do we really make this a reality and having those discussions? It sounds like you guys have a good process for also including that as part of it and part of it and including the ownership. If it’s your idea, come and help.

Rafal Dybacki: I think it's the whole, what are we trying to do has to come from the owners or whoever's in charge. If there's no buy in there, I don't think this will work. Because we essentially decided not to be kings. And if you can't do that, if you can't be a true CEO, when it's my way, it's very, very hard to implement this.

Alex Cullimore: So, looking back on everything you guys have done, you guys called yourselves not seasoned veterans, even after 15 years, which is somewhat entertaining given that that's definitely past, at least the benchmark 10,000 hours. But I'm curious from both of you, what is something you're most proud of looking back that you really liked, that you've done with Worthington?

Neil Scanlon: For me, it's the individuals that I think, have pretty – what I consider good jobs, and I think are happy when they pull into the parking lot each day. Yeah, I mean, they may have that if Worthington didn't exist, but they may not. I think the fact that Worthington exists and they have that feeling every day is what I'm most proud of.

Rafal Dybacki: I think for me, just the, I don’t know, I don’t want to call it a platform that we have created within Worthington, meaning that other tools and processes of 360, the culture, the core values would be able to put in place, that now something is grown on top of it. A culture we have will engage people that are working for us, that engagement that we have from our employees is superior to any other organizations I think that, we know of, and also attracts other people with a sense mindset, right? That we want and hopefully it'll still work. I can't predict this a lot.

Cristina Amigoni: It seems to be working, so far. 

Rafal Dybacki: Like the book that Jeff Collins wrote, Good to Great, he had to write another one, because none of those companies were great.

Cristina Amigoni: It’s true. Now you have to, when you need to get tired of manufacturing, package everything that you guys are doing, and then go on the road to spread the goodness to other companies.

Rafal Dybacki: And we talked about it, like you have to have a mindset. When you pick to be a CEO, you want to be a CEO. Not say, okay, just do whatever you want. And then why do I need a CEO? So, I think it's a lot tougher to actually put this in place and it took us years to actually – we notice sometimes now, when we hire a new – people coming from the more standard manufacturing backgrounds, that takes a while for them to actually believe in this. Because yeah, I mean, I heard it all before. You got a new, whoever's in charge, and you have different whatever, processes, right? New ideas to be implemented, and at the end, it becomes the same, right?

Neil Scanlon: Or it goes away.

Rafal Dybacki: Or goes away, and you get a new banner on a wall. We're going to do something else, right?

Cristina Amigoni: Everybody has values on posters on walls, but do they actually live them and use them and believe them?

Rafal Dybacki: We have none of those. No banners.

Cristina Amigoni: See, you need posters.

Alex Cullimore: Have you guys tried it? Because it doesn't work for other companies.

Rafal Dybacki: We discuss all this, I guess. I mean, we both came from standard type environments, right? Both educated and colleges that teach the same thing, as far as business classes goes, right? Human Resources, how do you do reviews, all this stuff, right? But your experience, we know that that does not work as advertised. And I think our influence is from many different places, podcasts, books, other people. And this is just a mishmash of what we've been able to pick from different places and looked together.

Alex Cullimore: Having that learning mindset is incredibly important. I mean, that's the one thing that will help you, regardless of how the future changes, is just being curious about that. And one thing we see a lot as a lot of people who have been through standard workplaces, and they want to move away from some of the practices they didn't like or didn't think they worked, and that's a great starting point. And then it takes the next step of starting to discern what's the direction you do want to go. Because it's one thing to move away from something and it's totally different thing to move towards, or purposely experiment with something new. Now, you guys have gotten sounds like very good at that process of experimentation and I think it does require that vulnerability. I applaud you both, because it's very exciting to see all of these things coming together and just the grace you guys are exuding with talking about this. It's very exciting from our point of view, to see these things happening.

Cristina Amigoni: We could feel your core values come through in the conversation. It's like, “Ah, that's what honesty means and that’s what humility looks like.”

Rafal Dybacki: Great to hear.

Neil Scanlon: Yeah, thank you.

Cristina Amigoni: It's more than just words.

Neil Scanlon: We should probably note too, we're very fortunate that we continue to gain – we have a lot of good customers that continue to need circuit board assembly. So, without that, none of this would – none of this would be happening.

Cristina Amigoni: I'm sure that what you're building internally, it translates into how satisfied the customers are, and how the external piece goes.

Rafal Dybacki: We strongly believe so. A lot of times we have people that actually working on a project under assembly bench will contact the customer directly, and we do encourage that. A lot of people don't want to, for whatever reason, not able to write up a proper email, that kind of stuff. That way, customer gets the person actually does the work for their product. So, it's just process of elimination of middlemen. That's where we have to kind of –

Cristina Amigoni: I really like that. So, we have a couple of last questions for you guys. One is what is your definition of authenticity?

Rafal Dybacki: Being authentic? We are.

Cristina Amigoni: Just being you.

Rafal Dybacki: That's my humility.

Neil Scanlon: I think just trying not to be someone what everyone thinks you should be, right? And putting up these filters and I don't know, facades, for – we try to just try to be as real with our team as much as possible, and try to share as much information as possible. Whether that's good information, whether that's good news or bad news, and you'll sleep better at night, if you do.

Rafal Dybacki: Yeah, I think, being authentic, it’s probably just being yourself, or human, and treat others as that.

Cristina Amigoni: Simple but not easy.

Rafal Dybacki: Sorry, I don't have a good answer.

Cristina Amigoni: That is a good answer.

Alex Cullimore: That’s a great answer.

Neil Scanlon: Rafal and I are both very fortunate that we do get to be ourselves every day, or at least, I can say I do, and we're just very fortunate that we are given the environment that we're in.

Alex Cullimore: So, one final question for you guys. Where can people find you?

Rafal Dybacki: Our website is worthington.co, is the shortened version. I don't have any other social media.

Neil Scanlon: What about LinkedIn? We both are on LinkedIn. Neil Scanlon and the other place that everyone may enjoy the Pick, Place Pod. Some people may enjoy the Pick, Place podcast, which our CTO does. It's a very – it has really cool guest on there, including a lot of times we'll actually have some of our team members on that. So, some morning shipping might be on or our CTO has been on, our other CTO has been on, folks in assembly. Yeah, we have not been on.

Cristina Amigoni: Next appearance. 

Rafal Dybacki: We’re not the experts.

Neil Scanlon: But we're both on LinkedIn, for sure.

Cristina Amigoni: And soon on tour to go in and spread the good news on how to –

Alex Cullimore: Evangelize this.

Cristina Amigoni: Evangelize how to humanize manufacturing and other types of industry.

Rafal Dybacki: I think we rather welcome everybody here. Even going back to even tours, we decided to a different way of doing tours. So, we have like now, we have a process map of how we do, how we build boards, and whoever's getting a tour will follow the process. And we'll go from one work center to the other work center. And we'll talk to the people that work in the work center, and they'll talk about what they're doing in the work center, and they'll bring that person over to the next work center. So, we are not involved. You got it? That way is so much better.

Cristina Amigoni: Working yourself out of jobs.

Rafal Dybacki: That's the goal.

Alex Cullimore: Well, thank you guys so much. This has definitely been a fun hour for us. Hopefully this contributes one fun hour for you guys for your core value as well. But thank you for joining and thank you so much for sharing all of your stories. Once more, this is Neil and Rafal from Worthington Assembly.

Cristina Amigoni: Yes, thank you.

Neil Scanlon: Thank you so much.

Rafal Dybacki: Thank you very much, guys.

Cristina Amigoni: Thank you for listening to Uncover the Human, a Siamo podcast. 

Alex Cullimore: Special thanks to our podcast operations wizard, Jake Lara; and our score creator, Rachel Sherwood. 

Cristina Amigoni: If you have enjoyed this episode, please share, review and subscribe. You can find our episodes wherever you listen to podcasts. 

Alex Cullimore: We would love to hear from you with feedback, topic ideas or questions. You can reach us at podcast@wearesiamo.com, or at our website, wearesiamo.com, LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook. We Are Siamo is spelled W-E A-R-E S-I-A-M-O.

Cristina Amigoni: Until next time, listen to yourself, listen to others and always uncover the human.

Neil Scanlon Profile Photo

Neil Scanlon

Co-owner

Co-owner of Worthington Assembly, Inc. for the past 14 years. Worthington Assembly, Inc. is an electronics contract manufacturing company originally founded in 1976. We are ISO9001:2015 registered and specialize in producing printed circuit board assemblies as well as small final box build assemblies. We service/produce assemblies for cleantech, additive manufacturing, semiconductor manufacturing, high speed communication, medical as well advanced robotic manufacturers. Our company Mission is to provide excellent, well paying manufacturing jobs where team members look forward to pulling into the parking lot each day! Through our mission we believe our customers will be better served!

Rafal Dybacki Profile Photo

Rafal Dybacki

Treasurer

co-owner of Worthington Assembly, inc.