Shop Foreman's attitude toward other employees - What's crossing the line?
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  1. #1
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    Default Shop Foreman's attitude toward other employees - What's crossing the line?

    I have a guy working here who started at the bottom years ago and has worked his way up. He showed a lot of promise managing other people and had some experience in the past, so about a year ago he got promoted to shop foreman. Prior to him, we went through a few month transition from when the previous foreman was fired for stealing and I was doing the best I could to manage everything.

    So far, he's done a fantastic job at getting things more streamlined, tightening up our lead time, improving efficiency, and maintaining the shop. However his biggest downside is he has a bit of a short temper and easily can lose it on someone if they're being dumb. The first time he snapped on someone, I pulled him aside and warned him that he can't lose it on people like that. It was nothing physical, but "verbally abusive". He hasn't done that since, but he will frequently yell at someone for being stupid or for wasting time and he'll throw in a couple of choice words in there, nothing that's personally offensive to the employee, but they come to me complaining that their supervisor is swearing at them and that it's totally unprofessional and they ask me to tell him to stop talking to people like that.

    I still think we're dealing with some aftermath from a "co-worker becoming their boss", as most of the current staff was here before he was promoted. So I think they're just being salty when he calls them out for something, and they come to me complaining about his word choice.

    How do you guys feel about this type of language? I'll give you an example of a conversation that someone complained to me about recently:

    Bob - Uses a grinder to clean up a weldment, drops it on the floor when he's done.
    Foreman - "What the F*** do you think you're doing?! No wonder all of our F****** tools keep breaking, because you treat them like S***! If I catch you doing that S*** again I'm going to F****** send you home for the day!"
    Bob - "You can't talk to me like that!"
    Foreman - "Just get back to work!"
    Bob walks right into my office to complain.

    I'll give my opinion. Personally, I would never talk to someone like that, but that's because I'm too "nice"/soft, but I don't necessarily have a problem with it. I've had bosses like this in the past, and I feel like most people in the trades are accustomed to supervisors who talk to them like this. There's a part of me that just wants to tell the "Bob's" to put their big boy pants on and grow up, but I also don't want a foreman who's going to be pushing away good employees because of the way he talks to them.

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    If this person was my manager I would be brushing up my resume and looking for a new job. I don't like receiving that much disrespect and I have a tendency to respond to people in the tone of voice they speak to me with.

    I'm not a lawyer but I strongly suspect you are opening yourself up to alot of legal liability. Look up hostile work environment.

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    This is your shop?

    You may run it how you please

    it is not, however his shop, so he should do as you say

    I can yell swear and throw things, but usually directed at inanimate objects.

    Rarely I yell at someone, but I have always made it clear that just because I am pissed off it does not mean your job is in jeopardy.

    Example of such a thing, guy runs 100 parts with a drill too large to fix, I can see it from 20 ft away[that the drill is a 3.1 mm not a .101]. I walk over measure a hole with the calipers sitting right there, say 'What the F**K' rather loudly, and slide the entire bin box into the trash can.

    But it is my shop

    This guy is not doing as you wish and is making your shop toxic.

    People will leave because of it

    I am not sure exactly how you should go about it, but establish that you are the boss and it will stop now.

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    The foreman just needs to get the same reply from the crew. So if he told me that I would tell him the same thing back "It was not XXXXXX intentional so go stuff yourself you inconsiderate prick."

    Once the foreman gets it back either everyone will have to speak the same way to the foreman or the foreman will stop doing the colorful language.

    For further reading see the types of personalities and how to interact with them, it's well published.

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    Unless.....the boss is trying to get everyone "cleared out" so he can bring in
    "His" crew, and he will play nice with them.

    "His" crew, being the ones he selects, and hit's up for payola.

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    But honestly, I like someone who can yell at an employee. Say what you want, but before foreman #1 when I was doing it, the guys walked all over me. I'd say we're starting to fall behind, mandatory 9 hour days for the next two weeks, and they'd leave at 7 hours. I'd pull them in my office and address it, they'd say sorry, then they'd leave at 7 hours again. Foreman #1 was a little better, but when people pushed back, he would back down and let them do what they wanted. This guy now doesn't put up with that stuff. He says no smoke breaks while you're in the middle of a job, someone goes out on a smoke break in the middle of a job the next day he goes out there and yells at them.

    I agree, he doesn't need to be using the colorful language, but sometimes that's the only way you can get through to someone. And people will definitely fire back at him in the same way if they are trying to defend themselves, but sometimes they just don't like being talked to that way.

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    I grew up as a tradesmen in that environment. Really did not mind it as long as I was being ligitamatly stupid. But there is a balance.
    I like a strict work environment where the pressure is on, I can take my licks but I expect to be rewarded for consistent performance.

    This day and age could use some firm management, unfortunately people are getting softer and so is the courts.

    To me it sounds like he needs mentorship
    Have you considered sending him to some day courses on comunication?
    This could help him better select his words but maintain firm order, likely bettering the bottom line and everyone's experience. It would also show a court you have done your due diligence to activlt help the situation
    He has made improvements to your operation, he is worth investing in.

    Actually I'll add a small story. I had a good friend I worked with for 10 years learning the trade got a foerman gig. A complete bull in the China shop type.
    Me, I'm passive and thoughtful. We had a system where when he was gonna loose it he would politely walk away and chat with me for 10 min at my machine to calm down and get my input on the situation.
    Once he felt collected he would re approach the employee. That gave them both time to cool down and think about it. Sometimes he saw he was wrong to get so heated, the other times he would at least have his patience/words in check when he corrected them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stirling View Post
    I grew up as a tradesmen in that environment. Really did not mind it as long as I was being ligitamatly stupid. But there is a balance.
    I like a strict work environment where the pressure is on, I can take my licks but I expect to be rewarded for consistent performance.
    You are the exact type of person he is looking for, and the type of environment he is trying to create! Sometimes he goes overboard and lets his temper get the best of him, but he worked for me in the environment of having no real pressure, and he saw how everyone else took advantage of it.

    But I also completely understand that when you engage someone about an issue, and you come at it with guns blazing, you're automatically putting them on the defensive, and no real progress is going to be made with that conflict. Like you said, there's a balance.

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    a Sargent in the army often cames up in the ranks and talks fairly harshly to his men at times.
    .
    a lieutenant being a "college boy" maybe never heard loud talk before
    .
    never had a problem with a Sargent. of course "snowflakes" might not like loud talk. usually the solution is the have everybodys rating 20% come from fellow workers at least 3 other people. usually everybody acts nicer when they know they got to find 3 other people to give them a good rating.
    .
    i literally have seen everybodys attitude become much nicer within weeks when it was explained how the new rating system worked. only people who had problems were the type who could not find 3 people to say nice things about them.

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    Firstly, Bob needs to be taught how to treat tools.

    I have no issues with it as long as it isn't the first time the employee made a mistake. I will talk to the employee in a decent tone the first time to try to teach them why you shouldn't do something like that. However, if they do it again, I will call them out on it in a similar fashion. Curse words are just words. As long as he's not calling them names and belittling them, it's a non issue.

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    This is an interesting thread. I suspect there are some serious generational difference here.

    Language aside, yelling at the employees alone is no longer an acceptable way to treat employees. Yelling at employees is a motivation and morale killer.

    I am in an old school shop where most of the staff worked here for 30+ years. All the senior management is retiring and its a bunch of young guys running things now. We don't yell or curse at the employees. Ever. Production hasn't suffered, parts are still getting made, but the staff is more motivated to improve things, cross training has gone way up, and people are generally happier.

    I foreman who manages by yelling a cursing is a dictator, not a leader. I good team needs a leader.

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    Part of being a manager is being able to maintain your professionalism and if he can't maintain that he might not be fit for the role. That said the trades can be a little rough and in my experience snowflakes don't last very long.

    Maybe everyone just needs to act like adults and meet somewhere in the middle.
    Last edited by Hazzert; 04-02-2019 at 01:57 PM. Reason: grammar

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    some people dont do what they are suppose to do and they know what to do, they just dont do what they are suppose to do. raising ones voice when people are not doing what they know they are suppose to do is very understandable at times.
    .
    sure i have seen training movies where you need to talk calmly and explain to workers things and movie acts like by a miracle they will do what they are suppose to do once explained to them. sorry but i have seen stubborn and illogical and even lazy people before.
    .
    sometimes the foreman is looked at like he has the problem when really its some of the workers have problems. the foreman might prefer to yell at them rather than have them fired. its like a catholic school nun yelling at a school boy cause he in flunking his religion tests. nobody i know every said the nun needs to be fired from her teaching jobs cause she is yelling at a student. personally i never wanted to piss off a nun. i retook religion test and passed it

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hazzert View Post
    Part of being a manager is being able to maintain your professionalism and he can't maintain that he might not be fit for the role. That said the trades can be a little rough and in my experience snowflakes don't last very long.

    Maybe everyone just needs to act like adults and meet somewhere in the middle.
    Don't I see (not that I ever watch) Soccer Referees handing out leetle slips of colored paper for various violations ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    Don't I see (not that I ever watch) Soccer Referees handing out leetle slips of colored paper for various violations ?
    You get enough of those leetle slips and you get shown the door.

    Obligatory soccer commercial: YouTube

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    I'm a direct kind of guy. I don't like pussy footing around an issue because feelings might get hurt. If I cocked something up, tell me. If I see a problem I'll speak up about it, and work towards a solution. It goes both ways with me, and I have no problem taking a warranted tongue lashing without. But it better be warranted....

    It sounds like he is in an un enviable position that he inherited where employees have no respect for management. And being that he "came up" with them on the floor makes it even worse. I don't really see this righting itself, but it sounds like there's a couple sour babies on the floor that need to suck it up a bit. The foreman should be a bit more professional about it, absolutely, but his attitude towards certain people might be swayed by the fact that he's worked beside them for years. It would be pretty tough to come up working beside bob and watch him everyday be a lazy slob, and treat the company tools poorly, then one day be in a position of authority over him. I'm not equipped to handle that situation, and I probably wouldn't handle it much differently. Perhaps telling Bob how much that grinder costs the company, and how much longer it would last if he didn't chuck it on the floor after every time he used it.

    Perhaps you should look into some people management courses for your foreman. And Bob sounds like he should grow a bit thicker skin if he's constantly running to the principal with every issue on the playground. Just my opinion, but I've seen some grown men in this trade act like complete babies about some of the stupidest things. Sometimes they just need to be told to STFU.

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    We had a mild manor guy who was a decent worker. His boss would verbally abuse him every day. On day the mild manor guy just picked up a slip yoke casting and bashed the bosses head in.. Boss lived but never got sharp enough to works again..
    Some day that boss may get his come-up-ins.

    I cant remember what happened to the mild manor guy.

    Guess if I was that bosses boss I would tell him to shape up or ship out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by michiganbuck View Post
    We had a mild manor guy who was a decent worker. His boss would verbally abuse him every day. On day the mild manor guy just picked up a slip yoke casting and bashed the bosses head in.. Boss lived but never got sharp enough to works again..
    Some day that boss may get his come-up-ins.

    I cant remember what happened to the mild manor guy.

    Guess if I was that bosses boss I would tell him to shape up or ship out.
    There's a line between being direct with somebody, and abuse. In the OP I don't think the guy is being abusive (yet) but he's definitely just toeing the line a bit. I think a big elephant in the room is the promotion of a coworker, and the guys not wanting to respect his (newfound) authority. Thus making him cross the line a bit more to try and establish order. Like bending a piece of steel. There is always a bit of springback, so you have to overbend a bit to end up where you want. Overbend too much and guys snap. Don't bend it enough and your pointing in a different direction than you should be.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by D Dubeau View Post
    There's a line between being direct with somebody, and abuse. In the OP I don't think the guy is being abusive (yet) but he's definitely just toeing the line a bit. I think a big elephant in the room is the promotion of a coworker, and the guys not wanting to respect his (newfound) authority. Thus making him cross the line a bit more to try and establish order. Like bending a piece of steel. There is always a bit of springback, so you have to overbend a bit to end up where you want. Overbend too much and guys snap. Don't bend it enough and your pointing in a different direction than you should be.....
    On the other hand...the whole crew may up & quit "en mass"...walk out and leave him
    standing there, trying to get production out....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Econdron View Post
    But honestly, I like someone who can yell at an employee.
    Oh,Ok, so you are a dick, not that there is anything wrong with that, just understand who you are

    Also understand that the people who don't give a damn will stay and turn up the radio when your foreman yells, and the people with actual talent will go somewhere where they get respect.


    Your foreman has no reason to lose his temper over someone dropping something, that is just being a dick

    When one of his charges screws up a bunch of parts that your foreman promised you would be done today,knowing your customer would then be promised they would ship today, , maybe that is a reason to lose his temper. Maybe


    you see, your foreman is not showing strength, he is showing disrespect.

    If you do not know the difference, I cannot teach you

    Your employees I am going to guess, will be able to.

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