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  1. #21
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    2 litmus' tests...

    1- Test yourself. Will you actually "like" listening to people complain, then smile, hold their hand, and lead them to a solution for _whatever_ issue the business NEEDS to business to get done? (I.E. - Working with the most fickle of animals & machines ever known about - People...)

    If the answer to #1 was a "Yes" then...

    2- Test management. Ask them if you can hire & fire, and if you can spend money. If the answer is no, then they're not serious about giving you any kind of authority to make costly decisions. Pass on the job.





    I worked at a shop where the owner floated the idea of having me grow into a general-manager's position. Had they been 40 miles closer to home (I planned on moving when I took the job, then decided against it,) I would have stayed and seen where things would go. They let us spend money, nearly unlimited as needs dictated. With little to no permission required. Just get the job done & move along... They would grille you. But once you had decided on a firm course of action, backed it up, and showed a back bone, they'd get out of the way and let you run.

    I still miss that place...

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    I have had similar situations in the past.
    As a programmer your skills are more easily quantified.....you either do know how to program a 5 axis mill....or you dont. When you search for a job those qualifications are on your resume and if hired, your skills can be assesed pretty quickly. As a foreman there is more nuance involved. Some leadership skills are not easily evaluated quickly. In my opinion.....if a person needs a new gig as a foreman the pool of candidates is much larger than it would be if searching for a programmer gig. As a programmer you can be compared to other programmer candidates more easily than a foreman candidate to another foreman candidate.
    When I was younger I worried more about losing skills by taking a position in management. As I have gotten older I am less worried about it....ten years or so left....I can probably run out the clock on either path.
    Not sure I helped.....I doubt you can make a bad decision.

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    Quote Originally Posted by g-coder05 View Post
    For me IME, once a person has to start dealing with customers, reviewing quotes, making decisions that require knowledge of labor laws and so on you cross that management threshold. A foreman should just have to schedule the machine time, track material, job routing/Planning, make sure tooling is ordered, maybe dictate some housekeeping task but that's about it.
    I trust your synopses of the positions and in my opinion this is a pure foreman position, as it includes just what you've detailed in what a foreman does.

    They explained to me that we have "house" customers that I'd interface with on a regular basis, and then other customers that won't contact me directly, going through someone from the sales team instead.

    Flow chain wise, programming typically isn't something we worry about here from what I can tell. I think that the foreman does a good job of managing it though. When I get done programming a job it's typically not longer than a week before the material is on a machine. Usually less, but very few hot situations also where I need to crank the work out in a hurry.

    Credit's to him on that, too. We have a ton of processes that get done outside of the shop and I'm sure it takes a lot to keep it in line - when's it going out, when's it coming back, when can we squeeze it onto a back onto a machine or into the grind room...whatever. I know that aspect of it would be a lot to learn at first but I see it as experience that's majorly beneficial.

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    Jashley makes an excellent point. Being a supervisor or foreman means next to nothing if you don't have any authority, or permissions to buy (as needed*). And I agree 100%, if the answer is no to both of those HARD PASS!

    *Within reason. I have pretty much free will to buy cutters and stuff as needed. Out of courtesy (they've yet to say no), I usually ask if it's more than 2-300$. Not that I order directly, handed off to office manager, but 99% of the time it's "Ok, ordered, be here tomorrow". And I get alot of input on machines and tooling. I made the whole tooling (vises, wrenches, toolholders, endmills, etc) list when we ordered our last 3 machines. No questions asked, buy what we need.

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    Quote Originally Posted by toolsteel View Post
    I have had similar situations in the past.
    As a programmer your skills are more easily quantified.....you either do know how to program a 5 axis mill....or you dont. When you search for a job those qualifications are on your resume and if hired, your skills can be assesed pretty quickly. As a foreman there is more nuance involved. Some leadership skills are not easily evaluated quickly. In my opinion.....if a person needs a new gig as a foreman the pool of candidates is much larger than it would be if searching for a programmer gig. As a programmer you can be compared to other programmer candidates more easily than a foreman candidate to another foreman candidate.
    When I was younger I worried more about losing skills by taking a position in management. As I have gotten older I am less worried about it....ten years or so left....I can probably run out the clock on either path.
    Not sure I helped.....I doubt you can make a bad decision.
    At this point any information is good information.

    And yeah, I agree, as far as problems go this seems like a good one to have.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jashley73 View Post
    2 litmus' tests...

    1- Test yourself. Will you actually "like" listening to people complain, then smile, hold their hand, and lead them to a solution for _whatever_ issue the business NEEDS to business to get done? (I.E. - Working with the most fickle of animals & machines ever known about - People...)

    If the answer to #1 was a "Yes" then...

    2- Test management. Ask them if you can hire & fire, and if you can spend money. If the answer is no, then they're not serious about giving you any kind of authority to make costly decisions. Pass on the job.
    Dude...listening to people complain is obviously a strong suit if I'm still hanging around this forum.

    As far as hiring and firing goes, it's definitely the type of place where that's done by committee. Not much turnover here at all. I've been here two years, so far they've fired one and it's only because they had one waiting in the wings to replace him. And the guy they fired had an absolutely terrible attitude, so it was fully warranted.

    I order tooling, as the programmer, per job. I've been told that I'm the only programmer that orders all the necessary tooling for the job. Not sure how true it is. Either way, I feel like I've established a reputation for ordering what's needed to get the job done without going overboard and they'll expect me to use that same discretion in the foreman's position. In exchange I'll be given the same leniency as I have now.

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    I will also add in my opinion a very skilled machinist is equally as hard to find as a good politician, I mean Supervisor. Just because you are good at one doesn't mean you will be the other.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dodgin View Post
    Dude...listening to people complain is obviously a strong suit if I'm still hanging around this forum.

    As far as hiring and firing goes, it's definitely the type of place where that's done by committee. Not much turnover here at all. I've been here two years, so far they've fired one and it's only because they had one waiting in the wings to replace him. And the guy they fired had an absolutely terrible attitude, so it was fully warranted.

    I order tooling, as the programmer, per job. I've been told that I'm the only programmer that orders all the necessary tooling for the job. Not sure how true it is. Either way, I feel like I've established a reputation for ordering what's needed to get the job done without going overboard and they'll expect me to use that same discretion in the foreman's position. In exchange I'll be given the same leniency as I have now.
    A big part of that job is going to be listening to people tell you why they can't/didn't get something done. Are you willing to give up your beloved programming role to pick up that thankless task? (Only you can answer. Some would, some wouldn't.)

    Personally, I enjoy working with people quite a bit. I may be in the minority here.

    I also think that *programming* is more of a specialized need for each individual company, not a big, valuable, transferable skill. The critical thinking is the most important part. Machines, software, materials, speeds & feeds etc. are all going to change with the job. Just because you're *great* at programming for this shop, does not gurantee that you'll be *great* at the next job. (None of this is NEW to you or anyone on this board. It's just healthy to remember it sometimes.)

    Working with people on the other hand, is nearly always transferrable. Maintaining a production/outside services schedule is nearly always transferable. And no damn small task in itself. If you're worried about the "foreman" roll making you less valuable to other businesses in the future, I'd encourage you to think otherwise. I think it would make you a more experienced candidate regardless of which job/field/business you moved onto.





    I'm a little skeptical of your general optimism on the current state of things, and that you have a quick answer to every question that's been posted up. But, what do I know from 350 miles away? If the place does run that smoothly now, then it will make for a pretty easy transition for you.





    Me personally, I'd ask for 12%, and take the new position. But again, I've come to learn that I personally enjoy people more than computer software.

    Your mileage may vary, and only you can answer those questions.

    Best of luck if you take the new job. If you pass, count your blessings that you enjoy your current job, and are thought of highly enough to have been asked. :bigthumbsupemjoi:

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    Have you interacted quite a bit previously to what will be your new subordinates or are you flying blind? The best case scenario is you already know everyone pretty well and at least have a general knowledge of the tasks those workers perform. Being foreman over an unfamiliar group of people performing duties you are familiar with can lead to all kinds of headaches. I could write a book on the subject.

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    ,The foremen were paid twice the base weekly wage....and expected to put in twice or more hours for a set salary.The management would play games involving the foreman,and not back up any staff action taken.......The bosses also had a network of informers feeding them what they wanted to hear.........And as mentioned,only path for a foreman was into management or out the door,and someone in management had to screw up bigtime to go...Like underquoting $1m on a job.

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    Depends on the shop owners.
    Some shops, the foreman pretty much runs everything except the check book. In others, he's more or less an expediter. If the shop is due to be sold, I would very much get in WRITING what the new owners want and expect from you and how they are going to compensate you, who will be over you, etc. Don't leave that to chance.

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    Most places the foremen are old guys who know everything,and everyone,but dont work very fast anymore.Pre retirement job.

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    What is the long term career path of both?
    A good foreman becomes supervisor, area manager, plant manager, boss or owner.
    A good cnc programmer may make into an engineering position.

    I do find the title programmer a bit misleading as many are just CAM jockeys.
    A good programmer that can also write the code for the office computers, handle databases, a handful of languages and the web, that is all different and a good path.

    Foreman or front line supervisor is the shit position anywhere. Both sides up and down the ladder hate you at times. Rock and hard place.
    Bob

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    I must have deleted my other post. I made the transition to supervisor about 11 months ago. I will be going back to my tools in 2021. I have struggled with feeling accomplished. As a machinist when you finish a part you have the fruits or spoils of your labor. Zero ambiguity. Dealing with people is all about politics. You can be the most technical person in the world but if you can't unlock the nuances of people then you won't succeed. I have not been successful in that. Also you have to be ok with 80 percent of the people really just being there for a check. Your success is solely dependent on the team, which you have to decide if you want to lead. Every place is different and I may go back to supervision at some point but I find metalworking to be less hassle than dealing with constant issues and emotions.

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    I've been both. IME, a good foreman is far more valuable, but much harder to quantify. Programming is easy, easily evaluated, and can be compared to others. Programming can also be outsourced. Programming is pretty black and white.

    Your answer comes down to how well you want to manage people? How good are you at managing people? Can you fire the guy who came to work with a little to much Christmas cheer and screwed up a major job? And still sleep knowing he has 4 kids that may be short on food? People are never black or white, its all gray scale.

    Every business needs a foreman of some type, and it can't be outsourced.

    If you take the foreman job, request for a budget/time for continuing education. There are some truly good human resources programs that will better your ability to get the most from your team.

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    Hiring and firing is a very risky business,and not one anyone in a foreman position should want.....I told the boss straight up when he ordered me to fire two guys fooling with machines.....I said "Your business,your money,you fire them"..........funny thing was he didnt do it,just had the manager issue both with a letter of warning.....Im pretty sure he would have hung me out to dry ,and pretended to be a benevolent father figure ,letting them keep their jobs......be very careful of the games people play .

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    A few of my observations about management positions:

    I've known probably hundreds of front line managers. I've known probably about a fourth that many that made it to second tier managers, about a fourth of those made it to third tier, etc, etc, etc up to the top. The realistic odds of being promoted to the top are probably less than one tenth percent. The closer to the top the fewer managers I've observed that got there through technical competence. The vast majority of competent front line managers I've known "died" there or quit.

    Anybody that likes you now as a programmer will probably still like or at least tolerate you as their manager. Those that are ambivalent about you now will probably still tolerate you or at least not actively undermine you. Those that don't like you now will like you even less and probably actively try to undermine you.

    If you really want to determine how valuable upper management thinks you are, offer to take the job for a base salary and a percentage of the company or a percentage of the profits.

    If I was doing it all over again and wanted to be in management, I'd take the job and start looking for a higher position at a different, larger company. That avoids some of the baggage you accumulate staying at one company. Do that every few years and you might go far.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jashley73 View Post
    A big part of that job is going to be listening to people tell you why they can't/didn't get something done. Are you willing to give up your beloved programming role to pick up that thankless task? (Only you can answer. Some would, some wouldn't.)

    Personally, I enjoy working with people quite a bit. I may be in the minority here.

    I also think that *programming* is more of a specialized need for each individual company, not a big, valuable, transferable skill. The critical thinking is the most important part. Machines, software, materials, speeds & feeds etc. are all going to change with the job. Just because you're *great* at programming for this shop, does not gurantee that you'll be *great* at the next job. (None of this is NEW to you or anyone on this board. It's just healthy to remember it sometimes.)

    Working with people on the other hand, is nearly always transferrable. Maintaining a production/outside services schedule is nearly always transferable. And no damn small task in itself. If you're worried about the "foreman" roll making you less valuable to other businesses in the future, I'd encourage you to think otherwise. I think it would make you a more experienced candidate regardless of which job/field/business you moved onto.





    I'm a little skeptical of your general optimism on the current state of things, and that you have a quick answer to every question that's been posted up. But, what do I know from 350 miles away? If the place does run that smoothly now, then it will make for a pretty easy transition for you.





    Me personally, I'd ask for 12%, and take the new position. But again, I've come to learn that I personally enjoy people more than computer software.

    Your mileage may vary, and only you can answer those questions.

    Best of luck if you take the new job. If you pass, count your blessings that you enjoy your current job, and are thought of highly enough to have been asked. :bigthumbsupemjoi:
    As usual, J, I appreciate your input. You've given me a lot to think about here.

    I will say, yes, I'm an incurable optimist. I'm not certain I've got answers to every question posted up so much as I have ideas. And, for the place running smoothly, I can only say whether it runs smoothly relative to what I've experienced in the past. It certainly does. If you stepped foot in here you may very well have a different opinion than me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dualkit View Post
    Have you interacted quite a bit previously to what will be your new subordinates or are you flying blind? The best case scenario is you already know everyone pretty well and at least have a general knowledge of the tasks those workers perform. Being foreman over an unfamiliar group of people performing duties you are familiar with can lead to all kinds of headaches. I could write a book on the subject.
    Contrary to the other programmers, I'm really involved on the floor most days. The bulk of my work is mill programming so I've developed relationships with all the mill guys - about 10 of them...2 machines a piece. The lathe and EDM guys I've definitely developed good working relationships with, but not really to the level of the mill department guys.

    One thing I worry about is there's only one guy in the shop who has less time in here than I do at this point. A lot of the guys have been here since the inception of this company, which I think it going on 20 years now. There's 3 of us in our early thirties, the bulk of the shop are in their forties, and there's a solid handful that are in their fifties and sixties.

    I wouldn't expect to have to entertain a lot of bullshit from the guys that are working on getting out - they probably just want to take it easy until their day comes. Some of the other guys I don't suspect would take too kindly to this move. Sure, we've got a good working relationship right now, but it's more symbiotic than subordination. Someone said something earlier about having to change the dynamics of those relationships...

    Quote Originally Posted by CarbideBob View Post
    What is the long term career path of both?
    A good foreman becomes supervisor, area manager, plant manager, boss or owner.
    A good cnc programmer may make into an engineering position.

    I do find the title programmer a bit misleading as many are just CAM jockeys.
    A good programmer that can also write the code for the office computers, handle databases, a handful of languages and the web, that is all different and a good path.

    Foreman or front line supervisor is the shit position anywhere. Both sides up and down the ladder hate you at times. Rock and hard place.
    Bob
    No engineering team here. I'm not fluent in any code but lets say I've gone above and beyond in some cases around here. Not sure how much there is really to hang my hat on, but I believe there's reasons I stand out from the other programmers. And I mean beside the fact that I'm leaving enough oxygen in the shop so that everyone can breath instead of cutting it up with a 1/2" end mill.

    One thing I've failed to mention until now is that I have some alternate plans outside of this place cooking up for the future. The new owner is a relatively young guy, probably in his forties, and a family man. I suspect that when time comes he'll bequeath this shop unto his family. Not sure on that, just a hunch. So, while I do plan on spending the bulk of my career here, I do have some entrepreneurial ambitions outside of manufacturing that may come to fruition one day. I'm wondering if the increased stress of carrying a foreman role might impact my ability to cash in on some of those other ideas.

    Quote Originally Posted by lx545 View Post
    I must have deleted my other post. I made the transition to supervisor about 11 months ago. I will be going back to my tools in 2021. I have struggled with feeling accomplished. As a machinist when you finish a part you have the fruits or spoils of your labor. Zero ambiguity. Dealing with people is all about politics. You can be the most technical person in the world but if you can't unlock the nuances of people then you won't succeed. I have not been successful in that. Also you have to be ok with 80 percent of the people really just being there for a check. Your success is solely dependent on the team, which you have to decide if you want to lead. Every place is different and I may go back to supervision at some point but I find metalworking to be less hassle than dealing with constant issues and emotions.
    This is huge to me. The satisfaction I get with taking one project and seeing it through until total completion is going to be difficult to parallel.

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    Think long and hard about if you can handle not having that satisfaction any more and deriving it from leading people to solve them. Sometimes not in the way you want. You also will be dealing with deadlines and commitments, ones you rely on your people to accomplish, ones they don't lose sleep over if it doesn't get done and they punch out. To do the job right there is a fine line between caring too much and not caring enough so you can survive. Unfortunately I toe the line towards caring too much. Also think hard if you can be a butthole, when the job has to get done and someone has other plans and now its on your skin to let them know they have to stay and they get mad at you for it. It made me cold. You may differ completely. And I'm not trying to be all negative just giving you my experience.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CarbideBob View Post
    What is the long term career path of both?
    A good foreman becomes supervisor, area manager, plant manager, boss or owner.
    A good cnc programmer may make into an engineering position.

    I do find the title programmer a bit misleading as many are just CAM jockeys.
    A good programmer that can also write the code for the office computers, handle databases, a handful of languages and the web, that is all different and a good path.

    Foreman or front line supervisor is the shit position anywhere. Both sides up and down the ladder hate you at times. Rock and hard place.
    Bob
    “ I do find the title programmer a bit misleading as many are just CAM jockeys.”

    I never thought I would see this actually said. They are interesting people.

    Only one I have ever met who I know actually knows how to work in the shop who is not a catastrophic accident waiting to happen.


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