April 11, 2013


Many years ago I was involved in big change at the factory where I worked.  I was part of a team that was changing the entire production control system and manufacturing philosophy. The changes necessitated a culture change and a buy-in (I hate that word) from the line employees. Once a week, we shut down the production lines 30 minutes early at the end of the shift to have employee meetings.

In these sessions we explained the changes we were making, and why. We asked for recommendations and opinion. Sometimes there was useful input, usually the response was reactionary. "We have always done it this way..." After time, as the production changes ran their course, the meetings became less useful. For me, they became hard to justify in the face of the lost production they caused. In fact, these meetings became nothing more than bitch sessions. I quit having them on my shifts.

About a month later I was called in by my boss to find out why I was not having the weekly meetings. Some people on my shift had complained to him.  Not that they missed the meetings, but in typical UAW fashion, they were working 30 minutes a week longer than  employees in other departments and shifts who still had the weekly meetings! They wanted to be paid for doing nothing too.

I explained my reasoning to the boss.  I told John that if we had something that required a meeting I would certainly hold one for my shift. I told him that I fail to understand why we need to hold a meeting just because it is Wednesday. I said I do not believe in meeting for meetings sake. What he  heard me say was I wanted to screw his wife and rape his dog. That was his reaction anyway. It was example 1,294 of where my boss and I failed to see eye-to-eye. John was more than disappointed when my annual employee review came around. He canvassed my employees and co-workers (per review policy) and found I was the highest rated manager in the plant. Moreover, there was a list of transfer requests for people wanting to get into my department. *

John was probably a Democrat. He would have been all-in on gun-control. He would have understood the mentality of "do something" even if it was pointless and had no effect on gun violence. He would probably mandate a meeting every Wednesday to discuss the issue.

* Eventually he went to personnel with a "him or me" ultimatum. He was gone the next day.


diamond dave said...

God I hate bosses like that, there are too many just like that at my workplace. But isn't that about par for the course in upper management land?

And on a slightly related note, my shift supervisor who thought much like you and was one of the most popular to work for got fired two weeks ago because he wouldn't dance to the tune of his superiors. Apparently common sense and treating those under you respectfully aren't desired job qualities in management anymore.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

I hate weekly progress meetings. I get out of them whenever I can.

Cappy said...

Six Sigma would make it all better.

Anonymous said...

We have daily Tier meetings, very structured and basically a joke that takes one hour a day out of my schedule.
James Old Guy

Ed Bonderenka said...

Amen to all of the above.
I'm too tired to type all the similar crap.
Glad it was him and not you Joe.

Ed Bonderenka said...

Except the six sigma. I know that was a joke.
OK. here's one: Kaizen is the slow process of making a change, evaluating it and finessing it.
We had a Kaizen blitz.
A six sigma "black belt" ran it.

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