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  1. #1
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    Default shift supervisor change

    Good morning,
    A shift supervisor who has been here for over a decade is likely leaving for another job in the next few months. My bosses and I (personnel director) are trying to get out in front of this so the transition is as smooth as possible. We are considering a bit of a change from how we have staffed this position in the past. Our shift supervisors are all machinists who can trouble shoot issues that arise in the shop with machines, tooling, programming etc. While this is helpful for the machining issues we sometimes run into, the downside is the supervisors aren't great at keeping people accountable for the work they aren't doing, the time they are wasting, or the general interactions between employees that can create drama and wasted time. We are considering looking for a true administrator who doesn't have the machining skills/knowledge but does have the ability to lead people. Our thoughts are this person would be checking up on all employees throughout the shift to make sure they are on pace to make production and do what needs to be done when they aren't. We have enough skilled operators that can handle issues that come up mechanically so the supervisor doesn't have to have that knowledge for us to continue to operate successfully. So my question is has anyone else dealt with a situation similar to this? What were the positives and negatives you have run into? Overall was it a good choice or bad? We are considering this for our 2nd and 3rd shift as 1st shift doesn't really have this issue with the bosses and I being here for their shift. Any help and advice would be greatly appreciated, thanks!

  2. #2
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    Have you considered sending people to leadership training? Unless you pick the right administrator to lead the shop people, you will end up with a bunch of unhappy machinists because the person who doesn't understand what is and isn't possible will have unrealistic expectations.
    Perhaps the solution is to hire a machinist who has leadership training. This person won't have a personal history with the shop people and should be able to get the results you're looking for.

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  4. #3
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    If you DO go the administrator route, make sure you hire someone else who can do the troubleshooting, or you're just giving up one problem for another.

  5. #4
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    Did you ask the person leaving why ? You said "to another job".

    So he/she didn't hit the powerball.

    Sounds like your shooting in the dark here, without knowing why.

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    How many people do you have working on each shift? Do you have working leads, foremen, asst foremen on the floor, or is the Shift Supervisor the only person with management responsibilities on the 2nd and 3rd shifts? If the shift supervisor is the only person with management responsibilities, you cannot hire someone without technical skills as a manager. If you have other people on the shift, like working leads or foremen, with some management responsibilities as well as technical skills, you may be able to get by with an administrator/manager as your shift supervisor.

    A good shift supervisor will be grease in your shop's ecosystem - they reduce friction between the office and floor, ensure that questions get answered, parts and tooling show up on time, machines are repaired, conflicts are addressed before people get too upset, etc... If they do their job well, most of the people on the floor and in the office, will wonder why they have that person on the payroll because things just work and it seems like all the supervisor is doing is either walking around, or sitting in their office messing with the computer or talking on the phone.

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    As stated before I would highly suggest if you go the administrative route that they are capable of, or have some knowledge of the mechanical stuff.
    At my last job they 'hired within' for those sorts of positions - BUT they were taking engineers from upstairs for some reason and giving them the floor manager / 5S guru jobs. It was (at least in my opinion) a disaster.

    The 5S guy had ZERO clue what any of our tooling was and they junked most of it because they deemed it unnecessary or 'duplicate tooling'(more than one type of the same tool so to speak) Then when we requested the tooling we needed that they got rid of to be purchased (because we needed it!) they denied it because it was to expensive.... Guys were literally boxing their stuff up, and giving it to someone to hide when the 5S guy was scheduled to do his thing in their area.

    The floor manager had no idea of time frames and how long certain jobs would / should take. Gave us unreasonable amounts of jobs to do during a day and then was pissed when they all were not done at the end of the day, even though we told him it was impossible and they wouldn't be done. We had 'productivity sheets' or reports or whatever you want to call them. On job sheets the estimated time was stated, and you had to clock in / out of a job whenever you worked on it. Well since the times were unrealistic out productivity sheets made us look terrible, and we actually had a big meeting to discuss time management and working efficiently....

    I left that company pretty soon after they started all that. This was at a large company obviously, and shortly after I left they were bought out (no surprise there). I am still friendly with some of my old coworkers who have said they've now since shipped about 1/3 of the company somewhere else, had several layoffs, and have moved to a smaller building.

    Anyways, I would expect you may run into certain issues like that if the new administrative hire didn't at least know a little bit of what was going on on the mechanical side if things.

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  10. #7
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    Charlie Gary- I like the idea of a machinist with leadership training if we can find that type of a person that is willing to do it on 3rd shfit. The supervisor wouldn't be doing any setting of the pace or parts per hour because that stuff is already set on 80% of the cycle time by the two heads of the shop. Most of the jobs we are running we have been doing for many years so there is a very clear understanding of how long a job should take and what a reasonable parts per hour is for each job.

    Digger Doug- The supervisor is most likely leaving because they want to be off 3rd shift and have found a job that offers 1st along with comparable pay, this supervisor is valuable to us because of the shift they are working so moving them doesn't benefit us in any way.

    Andy F- We have about 20-30 people on the shift we are looking at having a change. We have leads on both our milling and lathe sides that less skilled operators will approach with questions or trouble that come and help get things running again. The leads also move guys from job to job as one runs out and the lead will usually start the teardown/setup. The leads last job would be to run production if everything else is taken care of. The supervisor is the only one who has management type responsibilities (with the exception of me being here for 3rd shift on Sunday nights and then throughout the week for 2nd till around 5) but they also help out when and where they can.

    I appreciate everyone's willingness to comment and give suggestions, I'm relatively new to this position and am trying to make the best choices that will benefit us going forward. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

  11. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfeath View Post

    Digger Doug- The supervisor is most likely leaving because they want to be off 3rd shift and have found a job that offers 1st along with comparable pay, this supervisor is valuable to us because of the shift they are working so moving them doesn't benefit us in any way.
    "Most Likely " ????

    Need to ask point blank and find out.

    You know what happens when you "Ass-u-me".....
    "this supervisor is valuable to us because of the shift they are working so moving them doesn't benefit us in any way."

    Well excuse me, but if supervisor leaves, then it negatively benefits your company eh ?

    If the super is good, why not move to first shift, and have them train a new 3rd shift ?

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  13. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    "Most Likely " ????

    Need to ask point blank and find out.

    You know what happens when you "Ass-u-me".....
    "this supervisor is valuable to us because of the shift they are working so moving them doesn't benefit us in any way."

    Well excuse me, but if supervisor leaves, then it negatively benefits your company eh ?

    If the super is good, why not move to first shift, and have them train a new 3rd shift ?
    Trying to talk logically again eh...when will you learn

  14. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfeath View Post
    We have leads on both our milling and lathe sides that less skilled operators will approach with questions or trouble that come and help get things running again. The leads also move guys from job to job as one runs out and the lead will usually start the teardown/setup. The leads last job would be to run production if everything else is taken care of. The supervisor is the only one who has management type responsibilities...
    I think you misunderstood what Andy meant by, "management responsibilities." It's not about paperwork, or assigning tasks. The question is, do all 20-30 people know fully what needs to be done, and how to do it? Or do any of them rely on someone else to setup their machines, troubleshoot problems, etc? Lead men absolutely have management responsibilities. Think of them like sergeants in the army. They're not officers. But they know what needs to be done. And more importantly, they know how to do it. They allow the men to work collectively at a level beyond their individual skills, and free up officers to focus on bigger picture things like tactics, and logistics.

    Having those lead men is a very good thing, for your position. Without them, letting a desk jockey run a shop would be a disaster, as ecosta described. With good leads to handle the minutia, you're free to hire someone more focused on the system than on the processes. Just make sure the new manager understands the scope of his job. Telling the guys what part to make, or to get back to work, is fine. But if he can't single point a thread, he has no business looking over the shoulders of the lathe guys.

    On the other hand, how much managing really needs to be done in the middle of the night, in a shop that small? It seems like just keeping people off their phones, keeping spindles turning, and handling the occasional crash, is good enough for graveyard shift. Maybe you'd do best to just kick one of the leads a few more bucks an hour to serve as a working manager, and move the paperwork to the day shift. It's not uncommon to run far bigger shops, with pencil pushers who only work first shift. Of course, every shop is different, and that might not be realistic for your situation. Or, you might just find that graveyard becomes your most productive shift, running without a salaried manager. I've seen it happen myself.

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