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  1. #21
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    I'm actually very encouraged to read all your responses! I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one that struggles with this. This thread has actually given me a lot of ideas...

    I will say, I left out some important details that I think make a big difference for the position of my foreman: He started with me a year ago at $11/Hr. I only had 2 guys back then, business grew quite a bit in the last year, and he was just a general fabricator at the time. It was only in the last two months that I promoted him (he's making a lot more than $11/hr now FYI). I think there's a barrier there keeping him from feeling like he has authority over the other guys. He's been here longer than all the other guys (except one), but he was still a co-worker with them. This guy has helped me out a great deal, and he's stuck with me all this time through the growing pains, etc. He's 55, I'm 25. I trying to put myself in his shoes, if I went and helped a 12 year old selling lemonade and said I'd be his salesman, then he started yelling at me saying I wasn't doing my job good enough I'd be like who does this kid think he is?? But if he got me a chart showing me his lemonade sales increase as a result of my selling, and showed me he was paying me more than I was making him, I can't argue with the data.

    I think Tonytn36 said it best, which goes along with what all you guys have been saying, opinions don't mean squat, get some metrics. I need to find a way to get some metrics on the whole shop production... It's difficult because one item can take 30 minutes to make whereas another item can take 2 days to make. And these orders are mixed in throughout all the orders. I'll figure something out.

    My foreman has expressed to me once or twice that he feels like the other guys don't respect him. I countered that with saying I've never even seen him try to take authority over anyone. I have a guy who needs to go. He's very slow, a slacker, but he's worth more to me than no one. But I think his slacking attitude is bringing everyone else down. Especially when they see what he can get away with. Do you guys think it's a bad idea for me to make the foreman fire him? I feel like that would really help the other guys respect him more, but I could be wrong.

    Also based on your guys responses, I should be more involved with the shop guys. I'll get out there and be more involved with everyone. Though in your experiences, does this take away from the authority of my foreman? I feel like if the shop guys are constantly dealing with me, they start to just bypass the foreman in terms of "chain of authority".

    I think your spot on Bobw, with just about everything you said. I completely agree people conform to work in the environment they are placed in and I hope I didn't come across as "I'm a great boss and can't find any good help", because I know that's not true.

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  3. #22
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    Metrics - They are annoying as hell, but you need them.

    With out them, you have no agreed upon method of measuring performance.

    Without an agreed upon method of measuring performance, you have no clear path forward everyone understands correcting unnacceptable performance behavior.

    For me and I'm sure this will rub people the wrong way - Efficiency because and observation from your few daily visits to the floor that everyone is casual and talking is unacceptable. You are probably thinking WTF is with this guy, but I'm challenging you to get out of you management comfort zone to look at the issue differently. THE PROCESS HAS TO TELL YOU WHY. Bring a few of them in your office, express your concern and ask them what they feel is causing it. Additionally, when they look in your office or see you, are you being casual and chatting it up? This one hurts but so true with most American management. Lead by example. Express constancy of purpose.

    Superfluous crap can really weigh down a small operation so keep it simple. $500 max in materials and will get you the single handed fastest rate increase you will see.

    Dry erase hourly rate boards. Three colums by x hours in the shift. First is expected pcs per hour by shift hour derived from cycle time established by shop formen/area lead. Be fair and account for breaks if applicable (another forum topic), Second column is actual pieces manufactured per hour, third column pieces scrapped by hour.

    Very visual and require your area leader to monitor them by the hour at first and then back off when things hit the organization efficiency requirements. I would also suggest auditing them with the foreman 2X daily at first so everyones sees how important it is to management.

    At the end of the day, share the story about the shop across the street and the importance of protectiong the organization. Without it, ya'll are looking for another job.

    Good luck!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Econdron View Post
    My foreman has expressed to me once or twice that he feels like the other guys don't respect him. I countered that with saying I've never even seen him try to take authority over anyone. I have a guy who needs to go. He's very slow, a slacker, but he's worth more to me than no one. But I think his slacking attitude is bringing everyone else down. Especially when they see what he can get away with. Do you guys think it's a bad idea for me to make the foreman fire him? I feel like that would really help the other guys respect him more, but I could be wrong.

    Also based on your guys responses, I should be more involved with the shop guys. I'll get out there and be more involved with everyone. Though in your experiences, does this take away from the authority of my foreman? I feel like if the shop guys are constantly dealing with me, they start to just bypass the foreman in terms of "chain of authority".
    Personally, I think the foreman should definitely do the firing. It will help establish his authority.
    I would also have a shop meeting with everybody present after the slacker was turned loose.
    Let everybody know why he had to go. Let everybody know who is in charge of the shop. And bring to light the changes you want made in the shop.
    Let them know you are not out to be a slave driver, but you are there to make money. And, at the shops current efficiency rate, that is not happening.
    If the guys don't know there are issues, how can you possibly address the issues?

    I guess the big question is: have you told the guys on the floor they stand around BS'ing too much?

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    Firing someone really sucks. I would suggest you and your foreman fire the slacker TOGETHER. It gives him the authority issue you were hoping to give but does not make your foreman feel like you are dumping an unpleasant task on him.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Econdron View Post
    I have a guy who needs to go. He's very slow, a slacker, but he's worth more to me than no one. But I think his slacking attitude is bringing everyone else down.
    You want to bet?? It only takes one to drag everybody down, I don't even know how they do it, its
    like there mere presence is a blackhole that sucks up all the happiness, productivity, and efficiency.
    Once you get rid of that dead weight, I think you will be surprised at how everybody else will step up.
    Occasionally you get what appears to be a good worker that will drag everybody down also, and they
    have to go too.

    If you've never fired somebody, you really need to do it, just to see how much it sucks.. If I was
    your foreman, I'd be pissed if you made me fire somebody, I'm not a department manager in a Fortune
    500 company, I'm working right there with the owner.. I believe you should discuss the situation
    with your foreman, and you should both be in the room, but you should have to do the dirty deed.
    Also a good chance to elevate your foreman.. "Well Joe, WE've been discussing your performance,
    and WE have decided that WE need to let you go".




    Also based on your guys responses, I should be more involved with the shop guys. I'll get out there and be more involved with everyone. Though in your experiences, does this take away from the authority of my foreman? I feel like if the shop guys are constantly dealing with me, they start to just bypass the foreman in terms of "chain of authority".
    Quick story, were I used to work, we were basically working/floor supervisors and then there was the boss
    of the department.. One trick my boss used to elevate the floor supervisors was when somebody came to him
    to bitch, he'd tell them he didn't want to hear anything, he wanted to talk to the supervisor first...
    That really helped hammer home the chain of command..

    Another thing you can do.. When one of the floor guys asks you a question, even if you know the answer,
    and you've already discussed/dictated the solution with the foreman, tell them to go ask the foreman.
    Even if its something stupid..

    "Can I leave early tomorrow".. Hey, you're the boss, you can say yea or ney..
    Nope.. "Go ask the foreman"..

    If you see something that needs to be done, you go get the foreman, and have him tell the
    guy what needs to be done..

    Its a mind game/manipulation, doesn't have to be that way always, but until your guys understand
    the foreman is the foreman.. And more importantly, the FOREMAN understands he's the FOREMAN, you'll
    have to play the game.

    Also with the foreman, you really need to give him some free reign and decision making ability.
    Might even give him a project that he has total control over.. rearranging an area of the shop,
    new storage solution, remodeling a bathroom, go build yourself an office.. etc... Make
    him take some ownership. Maybe give him some quoting or billing duties. Take some time
    off, an occasional half day to start and let him run it soup to nuts for short bits.. Have
    you given him a key to the place yet???

  8. #26
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    I was a department manager for 8 years. The company owner undermined my authority every chance he could, and did it many times in front of my people. Don't be that guy. Spell out for your manager how you want things to be run, give him flexibility to do it however he needs to, and stand by his decisions when the crew is present. If you need to make adjustments to his methods, do it between the two of you. Acknowledge both his successes and his weaknesses, and help him improve on both.
    Start by doing time studies with each employee to show them how their job should be done, (with the manager shadowing, of course), and by all means, get rid of the slacker. Having "a body" who everyone knows is not pulling his share is a huge morale killer, and walking him out, and then explaining why you did, will bring new enthusiasm to your shop.

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    So here is my personal experience with this, as an employee. I work for a company that builds custom machines for automation in second generation ownership (daddy started the company and handed the reigns over to one of his kids). I never worked for the dad, but by all accounts he was a hard ass to work for, if he saw you slacking, he had no problem letting you know how he felt about it. But, everyone still liked him. He had a way of making everyone feel a little pride in what they were doing when they finished a project. He also did profit sharing and threw a big Christmas party every year.

    Skip ahead to the son taking over the company, the profit sharing slowly went away, as well as the party each year. He doesn't seem to care when a project is finished and doesn't even make an appearance when the customer comes to do the run-off of their machine. He has a habit of being extremely passive aggressive and will not approach anyone who is slacking, he instead will either call a company wide meeting or bitch to the shop manager, who has other shit to deal with. He's become a bit of a pain to work for, as he now walks through the shop 5 or 6 times a day and just glares at everyone as he walks past. If he put a window in his office so he could watch what everyone was doing all day, I'd be out of there, I cannot stand being watched constantly.

    He also has nothing to do with aquiring new work, and seems to take the view that our seemingly fewer and fewer customers are lucky to be doing business with us.

    The moral of the story? I would much rather work for the guy who takes an active role on the floor, who will let me know pretty clearly he's unsatisfied with something I'm doing, and who makes a point to show appreciation for a job well done.

    Just my $.02

    Sent from my XT1093 using Tapatalk

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    I had a shop with 70 people.

    Ok, the first thing to realize as owner of the shop is that you're the captain of the ship. Everything that happens in that shop happens because in some way you have condoned it. If you don't like it then change it.

    First, hire a customer service rep. and get that off your plate, they will probably do a better job than you because you are distracted by other things.

    Second, sit down and write a detailed job description for your foreman, there are plenty of examples on the 'net. It should detail all of his responsibilities as well as new ones as they come up. This will be the standard by which you measure his performance. Manage your foreman to make money and get him to understand that.

    Third, do the same for every employee in your shop.

    Fourth, rise above and take a look down on your business. All a business is a machine to make you money and that's it and you need to look at it that way. Never get emotionally involved. It's a machine. If it's not making money fix it or get rid of it.

    Run your business with making money in mind, a business that doesn't make money can't give raises and everyone should know that. It's good to have harmony in the shop but those people are there to make you money, if they don't then get someone else. Also, people respect a strong leader. They are never comfortable not having it. Let them know that standing around talking and being non productive is not acceptable, they have breaks for that. They are there to work.

    In short, take control of your business. It doesn't mean you have to be a tyrant but a strong image as an owner.

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  14. #29
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    successful business @25?!?!?!
    I was a snot nosed kid at 25..have only made modest progress since.

    seriously, congrats.

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    Tough subject, on the side, the company across the street likely fell victim to what I call the “Walmart syndrom”. That being a large buyer buries a contractor for a short period of time, forces a huge surplus & the product goes out of style. DON”T EVER BE LIKE THAT, the shit closed countless shops in the ‘80’s!

    1. Econdron’s going to have to show me his idea of metrics before I get very excited. From the standpoint of quoting, acquiring materials/tooling, the making & the delivery → the estimator should create a punchlist itemizing his calculations.

    2. From there, production ROUTES the getting/receiving materials, the making, the inspecting & the packaging or delivery (as granular as you want to get). At each step production has an estimated guess of that part of the quote & if tracking well enough has a chance to adjust things vs more or less important things overall.

    3. Examine the corpse, the results of comparing item 1 (the dream) and 2 (the reality) are shared with everyone (without blame, unless one of the tasks was a complete blowout).

    Not gonna get into the foreman thing further than “policy” is stated by management, then the foreman enforces policy with fidelity. About policy in a small shop, the following has been included in some of the more spectacular turnarounds I’ve known (one of them a 40M/yr, class1 railroad union crafts shop).

    1. The foreman has the authority and will do all firing for cause. (breach of policy or law)

    2. Management will do all hiring. 2a. Management will decide all layoffs in order by; (a) Job classification, then by (b) Seniority in job classification… (IE: machinist class1,2or3, → fabricator1,2, → clerk1,2 etc.)

    Creating said classifications can make union jobs virtually un-bumpable in a large organization with different facilities with DIFFERENT descriptions for same similar NAMED job classes when employees are trained right. The power of classification in a small shop should be obvious (we stated the policy → we follow the policy → everybody knows the policy). It goes without stating that there IS a pay (rank) difference from 1 to 2 to 3.

    Good luck,
    Matt

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    do not underestimate one negative person. They can bring an entire shop down. I have seen it in the last two places I have worked. he needs to be dealt with and given a chance to brace up or move on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Econdron View Post
    I have a guy who needs to go. He's very slow, a slacker, but he's worth more to me than no one. But I think his slacking attitude is bringing everyone else down. Especially when they see what he can get away with. Do you guys think it's a bad idea for me to make the foreman fire him? I feel like that would really help the other guys respect him more, but I could be wrong.

    I am not an owner of a business but I help run a department and my boss once said to me we are only as good as the worst person in the shop. We have a great mill department but we rely on our other areas to provide prints, program, product etc. Our weakest link use to be the saw operator and saw. It took one guy to not get his work done that affected multiple areas. Some problems involved not showing up to work, cutting the wrong stock, cutting stock oversize or undersize to a point where it didn't fit into the fixture. He would use a dull blade or not clean off the saw that cause bad scratches in some plates. About 2 years ago the owner invested into a nice saw that increased production by nearly 500%. We were able to hold tight tolerances and cut multiple stacks of stock. The operator was removed and we hired a guy that does an incredible job with our saws. The lazy guy needs to go because his lack of work is putting more burden on other areas.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mkd View Post
    successful business @25?!?!?!
    I was a snot nosed kid at 25..have only made modest progress since.

    seriously, congrats.
    I might be 26, I can't remember.

    It's not all it's cracked up to be.

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    Slow, slacker Joe is part time, didn't work today. I noticed we got WAY more done today than we did yesterday! Already talked to mr Foreman, we are both firing him tomorrow morning.

    I'll start with some basic metrics and fine tune them as I go. I guess this is as much a learning experience for me as it is for everyone else. Glad I got PM as a resource for some helpful advice. I'll consider all your points and make the necessary adjustments that need to be made.

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  23. #35
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    Ok, you're firing your foreman, you are right next to the situation. But, can you say you gave him all the direction he needed? When he hired on to you take the time to fully explain his responsibilities and what was required?

    The reason I say this is because when I was starting out I made mistakes and didn't realize it until I looked back. I had some people I let go that I realized that had I taken the time to work with them and spell out the direction I wanted to take the shop they would have become real assets in my business.

    How did this happened? I assumed they should know what I expected of them. Just because your foreman didn't work out could have been he was just doing it the way he did before. Unless he was informed otherwise he just kept doing it thinking this is what you wanted.

    BTW, he may well have been totally incompetent too. Just giving you something to think about. You're young, you have plenty of time to figure things out but hopefully it will be sooner than later.

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    I know it's probably not ideal to share numbers with your employees... but at my first job as a programmer/prototype machinist in a small mom and pop shop I knew whether I killed it or sucked each week because I was told whether or not my position made money that week or not. Probably weird for most shops but it lit a fire under my ass to make sure I did my part. Of course I'm sure the boss man inflated what I needed to make $ wise for the company, but it made me way more efficient to know what I needed to get done to pull my weight. Just a thought.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wild West View Post
    Ok, you're firing your foreman, you are right next to the situation. But, can you say you gave him all the direction he needed? When he hired on to you take the time to fully explain his responsibilities and what was required?

    The reason I say this is because when I was starting out I made mistakes and didn't realize it until I looked back. I had some people I let go that I realized that had I taken the time to work with them and spell out the direction I wanted to take the shop they would have become real assets in my business.

    How did this happened? I assumed they should know what I expected of them. Just because your foreman didn't work out could have been he was just doing it the way he did before. Unless he was informed otherwise he just kept doing it thinking this is what you wanted.

    BTW, he may well have been totally incompetent too. Just giving you something to think about. You're young, you have plenty of time to figure things out but hopefully it will be sooner than later.
    I'm not firing my foreman, I'm firing the other slacker. I came to that same realization that I had just assumed everyone knew what I expected of them without me telling them. Not really fair for them. I'm trying some new things. Just hoping I can figure it out before things take a dump.

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    You'll be fine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Econdron View Post
    I'm not firing my foreman, I'm firing the other slacker. I came to that same realization that I had just assumed everyone knew what I expected of them without me telling them. Not really fair for them. I'm trying some new things. Just hoping I can figure it out before things take a dump.
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    They aren't expensive, a bit cheaper if you bring more people, which I would suggest.

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    I give you a lot of credit for even asking the question.. A lot of people think.
    "I'm the boss, they do what I say, period, end of sentence..... Why won't my
    employees work for me?
    "

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    It doesn't matter who's older or younger. If your foreman can't or won't keep people from standing around BSing, then he is not up to the job and needs to be let go. His function is to keep people making parts efficiently so that you can do the things that only you can do.

    As for working alongside people out on the floor to build respect, well, good luck with that. The slackers will have somebody really motivated to pick up the slack--you. BTDT.

    "I'm the boss, they do what I say, period, end of sentence..... Why won't my employees work for me?"
    My thoughts on this are, if you are civil, fair, provide a decent place to work with a clean restroom, and they understand the job expectations and agreed to the wages and benefits, then you have every right to expect them to work for you, period end of sentence. If they won't, why are you paying them? Let them be some other boss's problem.

    Also, it is not unheard of for an entire group to have become poisoned after watching a slacker get away with it for long enough. Fire the one letting them coast and tell the rest, productivity is expected and if you aren't going to be able to handle that, better leave right now. If somebody pokes along the very next day just to show off, then you have to fire him. Sooner or later you will be left with a good crew. Will you have to cut five loose to end up with one good one? Hopefully not, but you should be open to the possibility that your foreman ruined the entire crew.

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