I could really use some advice from some management/owner types about this one.
So The millwork company also makes feature ceilings. The fellow that use to make these has been away for months now after a back injury--nobody knows when he will be back.
Since I've been there I keep getting assigned this task. I also made the horrendous mistake at being fast at it, and making deadlines they thought were not possible.
I'm a little afraid that I'll become the ceiling person. It's pretty much stapling all day. I'm use to drafting and crafting custom so it's a little difficult to maintain enthusiasm at something like this.
What do I do? I'm capable of doing so many things, I feel it would be a shame to both parties to have me be a stapling queen. But also I'm pretty new, so do I just shut up and go with it and hope that between these jobs I get to do other things and eventually get pegged at better value?
I wouldn't ask if it wasn't important... I'd rather lug lumber or load trucks. But it's also a great place with kind people so I'm keeping a positive attitude while this worry floats around in the noggin.
I get your concern but hang in there. Someone must be watching and if all is true and your beating unthinkable deadlines then soon management's minds will be racing with all the other things in the shop you could do in quick time.
Why don't you respectfully and subtly let the next in the chain of command know that you have enjoyed mastering the task and would enjoy teaching someone else your technique and put yourself to task refining another task.
Another thing to do so you don't get bored is analyse the job you are doing and refine it even further. Use the lean thinking technique, look at every single task you to, every single step you take. How many times you put down the nail gun down and pick it up. Is it more efficient to hold ono the gun and pick up workpieces with one hand? or set all the workpieces and nail all at the same time blah blah blah.
If your super keen, which you seem to be, write up this highly refined work method after hours or at lunch and show the boss. that would BLOW MY MIND!! as an employer, I would be an idiot to leave that employee standing at a bench stapling.
Set yourself the challenge, can you refine it further?
I'm going to go out on a limb here and conclude you were probably raised watching Sesame Street. They do a good job of creating good little democrats but not so much on powers of concentration. The message changes every three beats and soon makes anything longer than four beats boring.
Chipboard has a good suggestion. Look at this process through the lens of lean thinking and develop a set of standardized instructions and maybe a way to certify mastery of those steps. Develop a training program for your replacement. Maybe even set your i-phone up and film the processes. Upload the film to You-Tube and show your bosses. Demonstrate that you are more than just a flash in the pan.
As James pointed out, you are still auditioning for the position. Your bosses are keeping an eye on you and some of what they are looking for is your level of maturity.
But as Pat says, you're probably toast, but not your fault.
I suspect we've all done boring jobs. One year I stapled homosote to plywood for weeks. Someone else lined them up in the jig, I stapled, they removed and reloaded. Bump stapling as fast as I could go. Beer:30 was a relief! You just have to find a way to look better at something else, eventually.
Kay so I got sent to LEAN school paid because I was doing data entry and got bored and optimized it. Apparently that sort of thinking was LEAN---I dunno I just credit it to good ol dad that would lean over and judge when I wasn't being efficient.
But that's the thing--holy heck did I ever drink back then. I'm pretty spun--in order for me to do data entry for a full day I had to a) commute by bicycle (40 min each way) b) get a gym membership and go every night c) rewrite every procedure d) drink my face off after and write SOP.
Those drunken SOP writings made me but holy how many times in a life does one have to pay their dues?
Probably every time you hit a new firm. And I'll shut up and do it, they are 100% worth it. So consensus is man it and write up an SOP. I can for sure do that.
Try working on an assembly line. Put nut "A" on bolt "K", day in and day out.
Some jobs are monotonous. Some are boring. Some are challenging and some are difficult. You get all kinds. I'm a single person business. I do everything. Sometimes it'd be nice to just do one thing for a while....WAIT!!! Sanding, I do that a lot.
Sanding is the bane of my existence.
If this is just the beginning of your job here then you have a long way to go. If after a while they keep you on this task then talk to someone about changing out tasks for a while so you don't go crazy.
In my tenure I can count on one hand the number of workers who had this trait. I mean I could count them on one cabinetmakers hand, out of hundreds.
What is that trait? Glad you asked, it is a good question.
That trait is someone who just does the work.
Without any superfluous BS, you know: I want to do creative work, I want to do fun work, I want to do work that makes me think, I want to build cool looking stuff, etc.
The reason for this is that the offending party more often than not, cannot just confront doing the work.
Some of the best workers I have ever had were pickers. That's right the guys who picked fruits and vegetables. Why? Because they could confront doing work. It is not fun, it is not boring, it just is. And they have arrived at being able to confront work for what it IS. To them picking melons was like being on vacation. To piece work carpenters working by the hour was like being on vacation.
One of the side effects of being able to confront work is the ability to focus, to concentrate and be happy.
You may think this ability is peculiar to the "lowly" pickers.
But I have heard it uttered by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, they said the secret to success was the ability to focus. I have heard it many times from the great athletes.
This business too requires the ability to confront and to focus. I remember one time Alan F (one of the smartest and most successful denizens of this forum) said the problem with many cabinetmakers is that they have too much crap going on in their heads.
So my advise is to view things as they are and confront the work, which means you are focusing on what you are doing. And you will be much happier.
lol... I came to this province as a dirt bag french-canadian fruit picker.
So your description makes sense and all but I'm not sure it's very realistic. Reminds me a bit of an ad I saw for a rental suite in a residential basement. Something along the lines of "quiet single mature professional, preferably is gone all the time. Can't mind noise as we have 4 teenage boys"
Of course that would be great! But seriously, good luck lol
Just off hand--did anyone assume I was doing this work half-arsed or grumpily? Didn't say boo about it. Just strategizing a way to something better. Is that so bad?
Were all built differently, how did those workers that you could count on one hand go when you sent them out to do a sale or use some sort of intuition to make a business decision? I'm tipping they would give you a funny look and go back to putting nut "a" on bolt "b", but yes we NEED those people as well because someone has to pick up the garbage.
Mel is keen and looking to move up the ladder and instead of sitting in the lunchroom bitching about how crappy it is nailing things together all day (hopefully your not doing that!!) she is reaching out to a forum with a wealth of knowledge for advice on how she can progress herself and contribute to a company that she clearly respects the culture of. We should commend that and offer constructive advice rather than tell her to suck it up.
Yes the new breed of workers coming through all assume they are ready to run the show when they walk in the door but the reality is that these are what we have to work with and we need to learn to understand what makes them tick and how to make them effective workers.
Talk lately is that in the next 40 years robotics will wipe out a huge portion of the current labor market. Joinery lends itself well to automation so boring and repetitive jobs done by humans is becoming less and less relevant.
We already have the capability to have all the parts cut however we want them, I'm tipping the next major leap in cabinetmaking will be 3d printing so we won't even have to put the boxes together.
There is for 100% sure no lunch room or any other place of work sign of not liking the task. They get up-beat and energetic all day every day. I for sure shut up and do it, and fast. I work at work, ask questions here. It's a forum, it's meant to ask questions.
Happy to report that I will not need to suck anything up--getting chucked unto more fun stuff already! Even booked Saturday to make fir benches with one of my favorite ol' dogs :)
Guess my question got misconstrued as a complaint--I would like to confirm that a) I absolutely adore the new place and b) I'm geared up to make the absolute best out of this great resource.
Went from having one single disgruntled/too busy guy to ask all my joinery questions to having a whole lot of nice ones to choose from. It's a great place to be.
As for Pat, get that sand outta yer shorts and go get a hug or something :P
We finally hired a new guy. Has some experience but has been surprised @ the way things are done here. Has done several tasks so far and no complaints about how boring it is. Yesterday he had to cut over 2000 aluminum inserts. Today he tailed the bander almost all day. Another part to read the label, find the proper stack and do it again, every 8 to 10 seconds. Was impressed that the parts came off the machine clean. He'd never seen that before. The sort of things that one could get bored @. I'm as surprised as he is about what he hasn't seen before, having worked in several cabinet shops. Hope the novelty doesn't wear off too soon.
I had to smile when he was watching the panel saw automatically kerfing while the operator was on break with us.
Just before he left tonight he told me he had discovered he knew less than he had thought. A good sign.
You've been praised, thanked, applauded, explicitly told "you are right Pat" a several dozen times by me. Publicly, mind you. This is simply the first time that I really believe that you are not correct.
Sorry to say--but you might have to suck this one up.
Two years in a row during harvest. Was a bit of a French-Canadian hippy stereotypical thing to do. I'd take the summer semester off college and go hobo around BC and pick fruit. Won't lie though it was fun and supported a lifestyle that worked at the time.
Mel, as an ex montreal, i was told to suck it up and take a 30% drop in pay when business was bad. Left and started my own shop in my garage. Borrowed 600.00 for a table saw and taught myself to make cabinets. That was 35 years ago. 11 years ago, with grown kids and grandchildren, but a wife with severe arthritis, i was told to stop complaining about -30degree winters. my wife was also told to suck it up and live with the pain. I sold my business, my house, and my small country cottage, applied for an E2 visa to move to Florida.
Business has been up and down but mostly up and we live in a condo on the beach. My wifes quality of life has imroved 500% and we are satisfied with our descision. I never drop my price and refuse to suck it up. i get a fair amount of respect for it. Harold.
Could be that they need a capable person at this station and you were it . Your value to them may be different than to yourself .
They may have a better return with you in production as opposed to drafting and crafting custom .Could it also be possible that one of the existing employees would need to yield for you to advance to a position you desire ?
So as the FNG if you want to work and learn the way that shop operates go for it and take anything they throw at you , do your best ,could be your proving grounds .
How long has the average employee been there and did they work up or advance from within ?
Harold---oh yes :) That is the stuff that makes a life. Several generations of never sucking anything up. Never have, never will.
Nor do the people advising to suck things up--they are all the mouthier people on the forum that won't even suck up a sentence they don't like for two seconds. It's why I'm smiling and rolling my eyes a bit.
But I see where it comes from. A lot of business owners, most likely having had a multitude of employees that had no energy, not much to put in, but plenty of ideas about running their business. And yes, that's pretty annoying.
It's not polite in my culture to talk about yourself in too nice a way. I know it's okay for Americans. Still have trouble doing it. But for anyone wondering if I'm disgruntled, grumpy and botchy at work, all I can say is that there is not a single current employer, or former employer, that will not tell you that my energy levels and enthusiasm are unparalleled. My references are more then "good", they are excited.
And I know that, I constantly feel like the whole world moves like molasses. Give me respect and hard work, and I will run in 30 degree heat at a throttle that makes people stop in their tracks.
When I was scaffolding, the owner use to tell people getting tired to "Mel up". I can scaffold for up to 26 hours in hot outdoor summer heat, without slowing down or getting grumpy. At my new place, people being slow or complaining about heavy lifting get asked if "we need to get Mel down here".
I've never seen unwaning energy levels like mine. Nor has anyone I've worked with or for. People here get musings in the evening after 10 hour days of hauling solid a$$.
I dare anyone to tell me that I am not aloud to wonder about things I love so much. Cause God knows-- I love work and even more, woodworking.
To the fellow who said "someone will see what you do and want to capitalize on it", you were right. Already in full motion. Hopes in management right now are that my enthusiasm is contagious with the older guys.
I adore you folks--stop expecting the worse out of me. It's not because I ask questions that I challenge. I only ask questions to people that I respect.
You are a fairly smart and engaged person. Most people on this forum and probably even yourself would agree to this.
Since you are so smart you would probably accede the fact that people who own businesses look at the work world differently than people who work for wages. I am not saying the are necessarily smarter only that they generally look at the work world differently.
Can we agree on this much?
If so, does it take a big leap of faith to say that maybe it would behoove you (Mel)to empathize with this perspective? Would it be unthinkable to conclude that maybe this difference in perspective results in a difference of interpretation? Data is data. That's all it is. Policy is driven by interpretation of data.
The business owners are the ones in charge of establishing policy. Many of these business owners have lent you their perspective but when you disagree with it you don't necessarily try to harvest what you can from it. The fact that Pat usually wears 80 grit underwear does nothing to refute his arguments and possibly you might do better to not get confused by semantics. What do you think it means when someone tells you to "suck it up" ?
Could it be they are just telling you to bide your time? Or do you really think they are trying to hold you back or down?
All of you who are criticizing Mel: What's your problem with her wondering how to make her job/life/company better/self better? I don't think there's any inherent virtue in doing donkey work without thought or complaint. We all understand that there's a certain amount of this kind of work in life. Nothing that Mel has written suggests that she's incapable of doing that work, she's said repeatedly that she knows how to buckle down and crank it out. Here's her question again:
What do I do? I'm capable of doing so many things, I feel it would be a shame to both parties to have me be a stapling queen. But also I'm pretty new, so do I just shut up and go with it and hope that between these jobs I get to do other things and eventually get pegged at better value?
Here's my answer: yes, you do what you're told. But it doesn't bother me, as a boss, to be asked by a worker whether there's different work that they could be doing, as long as they are willing to accept my answer, which is it depends. Are you capable of doing different tasks? Is there somebody already handling those tasks? Is that what the company needs? In my shop, unfortunately, we don't have unlimited avenues for advancement. That affects the prospects for each worker.
I wrote about this a couple of years ago. See link below.
"I don't think there's any inherent virtue in doing donkey work without thought or complaint."
That is not what I'm talking about.
IMO one of, if not the biggest problems in business is getting the worker to do the work, including mentally.
Physical work allows the worker not to have his mind on his work, IOW he is not concentrating.
Since Mel lost her last job for whatever reason, it occurs to me that she needs to change something about her conduct. Since she tends to talk about many things it also occurs to me that she may be doing thing other than just doing the work.
The problem with this is that the worker not only is not doing their own work but interfering with others doing their work as well.
This is not to be confused with your pejorative take on doing necessary work, but rather on the virtue of focus and concentration on what you are doing.
As I indicated this is something Buffet and Gates submit as the secret to their success as well as countless athletes.
I don't have a problem at all. Just pointing out something that may be of use to someone.
As a business owner, the thing I value most in an employee is the ability to do the job well in a timely fashion. I hate the new guy that wont stop talking and start working and telling me how great they are. They want to re arrange the whole shop but cant work a broom and a dust pan.
Mel, you haven't been there long enough. Put your head down, do the work, become the best whatever job your at, show somebody else how to be the best at it then ask the boss for a different task. Do that for a year and then bring something back here and share that is of value to the group. Your co stant questions and complaining are not the path to success. Success only comes before work in the dictionary.
Thanks Paul--I've been seriously wondering what is so evil about this question. And every day since I posted this tasks have been great. I'm now 100% certain I will not be a staple queen.
From Chipboard: "I get your concern but hang in there. Someone must be watching and if all is true and your beating unthinkable deadlines then soon management's minds will be racing with all the other things in the shop you could do in quick time."
I've been explicitly told that this is happening. Apparently I am doing great and I am feeling it from all around.
JWS--I think I've asked an unaskable question. It occurred to me that this issue may be a sore spot. I do regret asking it despite the great answers amongst the mud slinging. As much as I always felt that no question should be unaskable, this is just not reality.
I sell all my work retail. I don't sell to general contractors. There are no filters between me and my client.
This is completely different than working on a repetitive basis with general contractors or architects. While I don't have any "film" on these prospects I do know many things about their tribe.
What I suggested to you was expand your range of allowable interpretations. You're trying to maximize opportunity for your shareholders (Mel & Mel's tribe). The best way to do this is to look at this from the lens of your customer for they only give you money for things THEY value. This is simple lean. You have studied this before.
Rather than assume that Pat just needs a hug (because you disagree with him) you might instead consider that Pat's tribe have common ancestors with the managers of your company, i.e., share some of the same values and interpret the world similarly.
This will probably (possibly) all make sense to you as you get older. If you can learn to see through the other person's eyes you can see more clearly the path you need to follow to achieve your goals.
Just because you believe something does not necessarily mean it is true.
Mel, we have come to a Y in the road , you have told us how talented and skilled you are but how would any of us really know .Perhaps you have posted some of your custom crafting or design works or maybe you have never shown us your stuff so to speak. Some say talk is cheap,
Seeing is believing and we all know a few pictures are worth a thousand words or so .
Please Show us what makes you good and why we would want to hire you so we all understand who you are and what you are capable of.Thanks Mel .
“What a millennial, just shut up and pay your dues.”
“Is there anything you won't whine about? Suck it up, work harder.”
“"Just before he left tonight he told me he had discovered he knew less than he had thought."
There is something you will never hear out of Mel.”
“Since Mel lost her last job for whatever reason, it occurs to me that she needs to change something about her conduct. Since she tends to talk about many things it also occurs to me that she may be doing thing other than just doing the work.
The problem with this is that the worker not only is not doing their own work but interfering with others doing their work as well.”
“Your constant questions and complaining are not the path to success”
Yes, I'm surely the one with an attitude/interpretation problem here.
Wow...this thread has really turned and twisted since I wanted to post some days ago...
I can really see both sides of the fence on this one. I can say that you don't want to become the new guy that just does their job with little to no input...you'll quickly become wallpaper in a larger shop, and your skills that could be put to good use will be forgotten. But you don't want to become the resident "know it all" either....
As a manager, I've really enjoyed the input I've been able to get from all my employees on processes and how we can improve. But I've also had people that were very adamant about their idea, and couldn't see past it to see any others, or the issues that their idea may cause. You don't want to be this person.
Also, here's one of my favorite quotes...it's hanging on my office wall.
“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
― Calvin Coolidge
Whenever you see dysfunction in an industry, particularly in a mature industry, you have to assume the price for those products also includes some subsidy for stupid. The plus side of this is that all you need to do do is mine the stupidity. Another characteristic of a mature industry is low margins. Unless there are significant barriers to entry the price of the product over time is beat down to what it takes to get the job done.
The only thing you (Mel) are control of is you (Mel). You don't have much influence over others. Your peers & employers have their own perspective on how the world works or should work.
There may be things in play that you are not aware of or that maybe you misinterpret. Priorities are a big one. Sometimes business owners make decisions based on current or pending cash flow issues that are not readily apparent to people on the floor. These decisions may look irrational from y our perspective but with more information you might agree.
Paul Down's article about whether he owed his workers a career path had 50 very articulate comments from readers. About half of the respondents concluded that this was important and about half disagreed.
The comments section was the best part of the NYT's "You're the Boss" blog. These were written by people who are passionate enough about small business to hang around these blogs and engaged enough to comment intelligently on them. The point I am making here is that intelligent, engaged people sometimes reach different conclusions.
There is some negativity in this thread but it might also just be inarticulate responses. You need to look past how things were said and try to understand what was said. Most of what you see in life is a symptom of something else. The root cause of symptoms is sometimes five steps away. Learn to understand the sentiment and you can use this like ju-jitsu.
"There may be things in play that you are not aware of or that maybe you misinterpret. Priorities are a big one. Sometimes business owners make decisions based on current or pending cash flow issues that are not readily apparent to people on the floor. These decisions may look irrational from y our perspective but with more information you might agree."
You would be surprised--use to work in international corporate logistics. My first question to everything is when do you want it to ship? Followed closely by Is there anything on this that you want me start with?
I may be a young employee but it comes with 10 years of post secondary education, experience as a contractor, and corporate office. So to anyone wondering if I ever got fired in my life--no. Do I "shoot the sh!t" at work? Heck no. Do I tell my boss how to run things? Absolutely not. I ask permission if I want to implement ideas and when I get a no, I move on. Or wait to have the topic brought up with me. You folks have inferred anger on my part--I have never stated it. You'd know without a doubt if I was annoyed. Like right now.
Pat--no one has ever had the thought "Wow, that guy is being belligerent right now--I should try to dig deep and figure out what he is trying to say!" TBH usually it gets clouded thoughts of wow what a prick.
One thing I have learned is life is too short to focus on the whiners. My workers have all been here for 30 years plus and they do what they do without complaints. They are all self starters and I treat them like family. I own it, I pay the bills, I pay them all well and they give me an honest days work with very few mistakes. I had a person once that figured they knew a much better way to run my business. Always telling people in the shop they did something much better at their last job. They lasted six months.
Oh I just understood the misunderstanding: 2 weeks into the shop, not into that task. 2 days into super awesome task.
About 40 people in that shop (not counting office, installers, etc). Lots of various tasks to be done. Wanted the funner
tasks. Got a shot at said fun tasks. Happy. Now I just have to make sure I rock it real good.
I read the thread from start to finish. From the get go, I liked what Mel was saying. I did not construe what she was saying as a complaint, but rather as commentary, expressing her desire to move on to more challenging tasks. I don’t see anything in what she said as negative, as I read it, just a desire to move on to a position where she could be of more value to her company, while getting more satisfaction out of her work. What is wrong with that? In a 40 person “shop” it would be more difficult to get her abilities noticed. I hope she gets her recognition. Mel, you can come work at my shop anytime.
As for advise, keep up the "go get it done" spirit. It will catch up with you sooner than later. James McGrew's commentary is right on.
It was a good thread. I don’t spend much time on the forum anymore. We are as busy as ever in the shop, busy raising our 8 and 9 year old girls and what little time is left is consumed in the Jeep off-road “commune”. Good read though. Mario
Gee... Thanks a whole bunch! Sometimes I wonder if I'm crazy, or if the whole world is crazy, or both. Probably both :)
I'm serious--it's not complaints. I think that a lot of folks here have a hard time to fathom that a younger worker could a) actually read carefully and use their advice for everyone's benefit b) look at a problem like just that, a problem. As in a fixable, manipulatable situation that just needs to get approached better.
An update--I did get pulled from beautiful custom work with a golden teacher to go back and manage donkey work. I won't lie, I was pretty sad. I did voice my thoughts, and was explained that they need me to man these projects because no one else seems to be able to do it.
So in the end, I am sucking it up. Because I'm not sucking it up blindly, and it is recognized that I am sucking it up. That matters.
They have promised to let me grasp the problem line, make an SOP, train, and move on. Just set the jigs for it here and there when the jigs are more complex.
I hope it's sincere! TBH I just wanted to woodwork. I left an office to woodwork. But then, as they say, experience is what you get when you don't get what you want :)
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The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices.
What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe
for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use
of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation,
and at their own risk.