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How to Move Smoothly from Rookie to Print-Shop Manager

(October 2008) posted on Mon Oct 06, 2008

This is the story of a screen printer who, after years of hands-on experience on the production floor, gets promoted to a shop-management position. Discover the struggles he faces during the transition and how he overcomes them.


By Gordon Roberts

John searched online and located an article I wrote about a consulting job that I tackled, and it sounded a lot like the situation that he was facing. He wanted to know if I had any suggestions that might make his transition go a little more smoothly. He also noted that the bonus clause only would kick in when the shop started to be profitable again, and he wondered what changes I could suggest that might make that happen a little more quickly.

The new acquisition had been mismanaged for several years. The previous owners invested very little into the upkeep of the equipment, and all the presses were old. John had a budget for a couple of new presses, which he expected would jump start his quest for the elusive bonus. I warned him that the presses would be next to useless unless he first put in place the type of processes that would be able to handle the increased demand. New equipment will eventually save the day, but the first task is to enable the existing organization to cope with the changes that this will bring about.

In my next few columns, I will discuss strategies I have developed over the years as a consultant to address this sort of situation. Some of you might find it useful to look at your production model and consider the changes your replacement would make if he or she were to take over your job tomorrow. I suspect that some constructive thought about the possibility once in a while could focus our minds in a very positive way. So where do we start?

 

Observation

The worst thing you can do in this situation is to walk into your shop and start cracking the whip. You have to assume that the workforce is less than happy to have a new boss, and they will be very suspicious of anyone walking in with a superior attitude. Always remember that their workplace is very precious to them, they spend more time here than they do anywhere else, and however dysfunctional it might be, it is their workplace.


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