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Everyone is an idiot, apparently?6/23
Hah how's that for a catchy title?
Kay so you ever notice that in everyday worklife, no matter where you are, there is an upstairs vs downstairs sort of thing going on?
I see this sort of thing all the time--for example, you work with a guy, experienced, not dumb or anything, but in a run of work, you see him make a few mistakes. Normal, right?
But then a mistake in the paperwork happens, and holy heavens!!! What a fool!!! Why can't they make perfect paperwork?? What's wrong with them??
And I see this two sided as well... why didn't the shop make these things in batches? There was no room, but you wouldn't know that from your office.
In an ideal world, all higher ups would have floor experience, and all shop people would have office experience. Cause that's really what it takes to mostly get along. But that's rare.
So how do you soften this relationship? How do you make everyone understand that circumstances and human conditions drive work, and that it's actually not that often idiot driven?
I hate the us vs them crap. Especially if my mistake requires a nail setter and a hammer, but the "guy upstairs" mistake leads to hours lost on production. They are both mistakes. I fail to see why anyone needs to torment anyone else over it unless it's chronic.
My wife has a great saying.
"Those who do not contribute to the solution, forfeit their right to complain"
We all get caught up in the fast pace of business and the Chinese whispers that emanate amongst the four walls we work within. Everyone needs to stop and put themselves in someone else's shoes or ask the question, why did this happen? and what can we change to stop it happening next time?
A good workplace culture is critical to everyones happiness but also takes a LOT OF WORK from the top down. Negative employees are like cancer in the organisation.
In a normal business, competition is implied all over the place, and makes for offensive and defensive positions. When there is an error, offense stops and defense takes over. A common strategy is to deflect by emphasizing mistakes the ....other side.... had made to minimize your own. By pointing to the other side, the division is defined.
I am fortunate to have a small shop, so things are more easy. My strategy for avoiding defense/shame/failure is to first admit my errors loud and fast so my two coworkers know I am far from perfect. After all, they are most often the ones that have to correct my errors, and I need them to be positive about that - not for my sake, but for the good of the product, the schedule - the shop as a whole. Secondly, if one of them makes an error, I first thank them for catching it, then ask them what their thoughts are on how best to deal with it. We often put our heads together and solve problems whether they are of our own making, or part of the project. My coworkers are all both sick of hearing me say that we are all on the same side, and our job is not only to do the best we can, but to help each other do the best they can. No one is more important than the other, we all have our strengths and weaknesses. Corny, eh?
But just like raising kids, these things need to be said so they are foundational. I do hear the above repeated back at me, and that is fine. This then becomes the standard, and we can respect, laugh at, correct, learn, support and enjoy each other. Far better than having a competition every day. I love my shop, my job, as a result, and my coworkers are happy, productive, smart and capable.
In larger shop situations I was in, top management encouraged division so 1. shop people understood 'their place' and 2. Salesmen (the other side) had someone to blame for their errors. This made for many more sub-divisions - general divisiveness - and the problems that result from that. As a production manager, about 1/3 of my time was spent managing this divisiveness - keeping it on track, at the right level to maintain a level of distrust that was known as status quo. Nasty business.
I fully believe in being responsible for my mistakes and the culture of fixing others mistakes with the employee, so we can take the mistake and turn it into a positive event to look back on we also use the mistake as a learning tool to progression.
Happy to say that the new place has only minimal amounts of this--but I still don't ever like "idiot office guy" talk even if it's just once. Nor did I like to hear "idiot floor guy" talk when I was in an office.
David I totally agree with you about the "all on the same side" talk.
Some people need to spend more time building cabinets and less time creating problems for the world to correct.
Excellent response from the perspective of the small business owner. I couldn't agree more.
For the past year we've been in the process of spreading the knowledge and office tasks more evenly amongst ourselves in our small shop. Both my guys took an AutoCAD course last year and I've expanded upon that with lessons in Enroute. The result is that now when they need a drawing or cut file altered they can go to a separate desk and PC that is set up just for them to do the alteration themselves. They feel they have been given a larger role in the operation of the business and it has taken some of the crisis management off my shoulders.
While I didn't define this process as office vs. shop it is in effect helping to blur that line.
Thanks for the insight.
That is some smart thinking and follow thru for you and your shop. The cross training means everyone has at least an appreciation for what others do. It also means they can fill in for illness, vacations, etc. And erases the line between "us and them" - that is a win all around.
Empowerment currently is a buzzword and therefore weak on meaning, but in your instance you have made it work.
I have to say my work is a pleasure. It only took about 25 years..... We all get along, we all respect each other, we all contribute and we all are capable of screwing up without feeling the walls crashing down.
I hope Pat G is not listening, because this just could be Benevolent Socialism. Workers Unite!
Go B and David!! That's awesome. All respect to both of you :)
Why do I have to read this cr.... constantly. Can't you just work? And contain your questions to the further progress of this profession?
I just noticed that this topic is really not so simple as people around us. I always thought there are 2 groups of people: first group - who work hard physically and don't care about fill in documents and second - vice versa. Unfortunately nowadays it's hard to judge and blame someone. That's why I prefer be responsible for all my business and run it by myself and so I don't have any problems with reports etc.
Okay Sea and Rescraft...
Aside from very long and interesting threads, this forum has gotten me a great job, better pay, a couple penpals, better field grasp and job offers across the U.S.
Let me know what that crotchety comment gets you.
this and some other threads you launched recently.
The other morning I was thinking about how much better my company is when I see things through the lens of my customer. I've been trying to think this through about how to see things through the lens of my workers and get them to see things through the lens of the company. It's circular relationship that should make all of us better off.
I had a contractor send me a drawing that looked like the attached one.
The customer is pretty much clueless. They have no experience buying custom cabinets and their architect hasn't really done them any favors with respect to helping them understand their options. So we have a customer who needs a kitchen, a contractor who needs some cabinets and a crew that needs a job they understand how to do. We all need essentially the same thing.
I am not going to sign a contract to deliver a cryptic set of specifications but so far that's all I got to work with. There are big dividends if I can convert this very limited sketch into a project. I can raise the price of my next job because I'm not hungry and I can get some great photos of great looking work to help steer more business my way in the future. I can share some of those photos with the builder so his website looks better.
This particular job is sold for $23K, undelivered, unfinished and uninstalled. When it gets that wonderful tile backsplash, continuous metal pulls, and soapstone countertop it's going to be a real easy one to sell to others.
I wouldn't have got the job without the attached drawing and I probably wouldn't have been able to steer the outcome.
None of this is new information to me. The epiphany I had was that I needed to help my crew realize they are not their own customer but rather their own shareholders.
If you want to maximize value for your shareholders you have to focus on things your customer values. The only things my customer gives me money for are things they value. They could care less what I value.
Mel, if you continue to focus on what you think your customer values then Mel's shareholders (husband and little Timmy) will prosper accordingly.
Totally agreed. I believe that the answer is money. Company wants to make money, customer gives money for the thing they want. Workers work for pay. Suppliers supply for money.
We could get philosophical and see what is it is behind money, but for practical purposes lets not :)
I also notice how big of a challenge on time delivery is. For anyone. Needing enough business to keep things going, hopefully make profit, but also not booking more then you can handle. Stakes get even higher in commercial with signed contracts for on time delivery.
Enter the world of contingencies. Some are big, some are small, some are evident, some are subtle yet important.
I thoroughly believe that angry humans are a contingency. I place a lot of value on cooperation in a shop. It's why my answer to "I need you to put that project away for now and work on this one" is always "No problem. When does it ship?"
I'm seeing at the new place that people cooperate and respect each other and seeing just how much a place benefits from that. People working hard to make deadlines makes everyone, from customer to worker to manager, happier.
Our plant manager also explains customer/plant points of view top staff like you do. I find it to be a very smart thing to do.