We are a growing fifteen man shop and have never had a shop supervisor or foreman. Either myself or my office guy have taken care of that. As we grow I think I do need a foreman to take some of the load. I'm not even sure what a foreman should be responsible for. I do know some of the things I want him to do but not what is typically expected of him.
I do have a couple employees who would like to climb the ladder and assume that position. One of them has been here as the business grew and has a good handle on things but he runs the molder, ripsaw, forklift, and other duties that do not allow him to be in the thick of things all the time. He has the respect of the other workers
The other prospective is always in the thick of things. He is a very efficient worker in every aspect of cabinet making. He has an eye to identify waste and how to fix it. In my eyes the biggest problem is he has a very poor bedside manner. Because of his attitude/personality many of the other workers don't care for the guy much less respect him. I am concerned that with his cockiness and added power, if given the position, he will drive good workers away. He also does not speak well of where he works. I've even had people who have nothing to do with my shop comment on how negative his comments are towards my business.
Dispite this I know he can help the shop run more efficiently and fix some issues but I concerned he will create a negative work envirorment.
I would not advance worker #2 but if there would be some way to tap into his gifts concerning his insights in the shop he could be a bug part of overall improvement in the shop. I vote for worker #1 as a manager needs people skills more than technical skills. I am sure he would appreciate the change.
The skill set for a foreman is not the same as a line worker. It is not important that they be skilled in all aspects of the operation. What is important is that they can see the big picture, understand your vision, have good communication skills and good people skills.
I would fire #2. Any employee that bad mouths the company feeding him so loudly that it gets back to you does not deserve to work with you. Call him in, tell him you have heard he is unhappy with a few things and you understand 100% and want to solve those problems for him. Hand him his check, stand up and say thanks, I wish you luck on your search for better employment and walk towards the door with him.
Face it. Life is short. Your business matters a lot. Go for the absolute best. Too many owner/managers fret over getting someone that can wear his pants right side out and settle for that. Get the best, and then don't settle, keep looking. There is always room for improvement.
If you have a guy who truly understands how to efficiently build cabinets, cares enough to identify waste and how to fix it, and wants the job then you should work on the weak parts. If he wants the job and somebody else gets it he is likely to just vibrate loose anyway.
I would bring him in and tell him what you told us. Tell him you think he'd be good in this position but you're concerned he will continue to be a dick and his dickosity will get in the way. Tell him also put a different spin on it out in the community. Find out why he is disparaging your company (there's a frustration driving this somewhere) and fix that.
sounds like you answered your own question. Person number one is foreman material.
The other guy sounds like he has good points but definitely should deal with the badmouthing. Not good for anyone!
If you can straighten him out can you give him some sort of title that elevates him from his current position but doesn't put him in a position of power that allows him to manage other PEOPLE. Like maybe he could be an "improvement officer" or something like that so his position is given a clear direction and you are leveraging his good skills while avoiding him bringing the team down by managing people poorly. Maybe it isn't even necessary to give him a new title, just re write his contract with what you would like him to do and give him a little pay rise.
You might be better off bringing in someone from the outside. You, also, need some help with leadership. It sounds like you don't know what skills are required to be a good foreman in a cabinet shop. The main skill needed is the ability to earn the trust and respect of the employees. I worked in a shop that was a chaos of bullying and ridicule by supervisors, lack of respect by management (no bathrooms), and other problems. Foremen were elevated from productive workers, then fired after they didn't work out.
Management hired a plant manager from another field. He fired a bunch of people, hired new people, gave good employees raises, got us what we needed to do a good job (heat in the winter), and was polite to us. That guy didn't know woodworking, but people were willing to talk to him about how to make things work well, and he could listen. Money was made.
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