Steel Advice - The Fabricator's Resource
Dedicated to support the steel fabricator with real world solutions to real world problems.
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Cover Page
Shop Talk with Steve
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Estimator's Corner
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The Project Manager
November
  2011
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The Painter's Bucket
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The Steel Erector
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Creating QC Standards
Contact Us
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The Steel Detailer
Shop Talk with Steve
It is your job to manage the work in the shop as well as the people that produce it. You are as familiar with what it takes to do this as the day is long. What we are often unfamiliar with and totally unprepared for is how to manage others who negotiate directly with your shop workers.

The company you work for assigned you to supervise the shop, and in doing so, they have created a chain of command. This means that everything regarding the work and the workers in the shop must come through you. It is up to the office staff, and your boss, to maintain that chain of command. You may have to help them learn how do that.
 
Unacceptable behaviors by anyone other than the shop superintendent include (but are not limited to) giving orders, prioritizing work, instructing or making allowances for overtime, special work schedules and time off. Any and all instructions from anyone other than the shop superintendent, no matter how innocent or small it may seem, will create confusion among the shop workers and will undermine the authority of the superintendent.

While giving a worker their assignment, nothing is more debilitating than to discover that the worker you are addressing has been given a different assignment by someone else and YOU DO NOT KNOW ABOUT IT BEFORE HAND.
 
First, don't blow your top over it. Second, get as much information you can about the direction that the worker has been given. Third, think about the discussion you wish to have with the person that gave this direction to the worker, avoiding anything that might be taken as offensive. Then, go to the offending person and have a conversation about it. Resolutions will be quickly achieved by way of friendly conversation. Be clear about your requests and explain how they are important. Also, be sure and thank them for their time and in helping you with your requests.

If you are to be held accountable for your job, you first have to be allowed to do that job. Any interference or direction from anyone else for any reason will prevent you from performing your job at your best and will make you unable to plan correctly. This activity causes the workers to become confused and uncontrolled. Ultimately, you will be blamed for this confusion and lack of control, even though the root of the problem began due to interference by someone else. Be proactive, be patient, and do not stew in silence. Talking it out will quickly resolve these issues.
When companies are growing, positions in management are created to make the company run more efficiently.

Some companies undermine their own plan for finicky by not completely converting authority where it is required.

If the company does not have written work descriptions, the employees are then forced to negotiate terms among their fellow workers as staffing grows and transitions.

Getting people to allow you to do your job without interference is a constant negotiation, and may require many conversations to achieve your goals.

Just be patient, and consistent, you will eventually bring others around to your way of thinking.
Growing Pains!
Dealing with Management
Whenever you feel that you have been offended or bypassed, it is important that you approach the person responsible and initiate a friendly discussion about it.
 
Chances are that they did not mean to offend and did not even realize that they may have done so.

Your job is hard enough without harboring ill will and hard feelings. Get your thoughts and concerns out in the open so they can be resolved!
Talk it out!
When someone you admire appears to be in deep thought, they are probably thinking about lunch!
There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly