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  • 1. It is important when carrying through an initiative that we explain it properly to the workforce and that key leaders in the organization support it.
  • 2. Many old-time supervisors can be uncomfortable with anything different from the traditional craft roles and training methods. They may only be prepared to give lukewarm support (if any) to the new ways. As an example, it was difficult getting them to accept even a minor inconvenience of releasing staff for scheduled training. [1]
  • 4. In Operations, Shift Managers are the key figures in bringing success. As far as their people are concerned, they are management. They must lead, explain, and sell management concepts and principles to their shift workforces.
  • 5. Temporary staff may not be prepared to confront and solve issues. Many were content to push problems into the future for someone else to solve.
  • 6. When work is urgent—for example, when there has been a plant stoppage or during critical aspects of a start-up—empowerment and mentoring of new staff tended to take second place to operational needs.
  • 7. The grading system must have rigorous progression hurdles. (All too often, we fell into traps where we did the equivalent of giving one competence credit for using a shovel and one for using a pick. Therefore, people who used both a pick and a shovel could get promoted. In one absurd situation, they could get promoted again if they used these in an other area.)
  • 8. Operators and technicians were enthusiastic to learn, attain, and demonstrate competencies which would result in salary increases. The demand on training resources was much higher than we had anticipated. We had bought inherently reliable equipment and were operating and maintaining it well. The reliability and achieved availability was, therefore, high with a low manpower demand.
  • 9. Workers prefer to be members of a cohesive group working for one supervisor. In that way, they get to know each others' styles, strengths, and weaknesses. In our system, the workers could easily end up working for many different supervisors; this result brought relationship difficulties.


The traditional style of organization works reasonably well. It has known problems, but moving to a different style of organization brings new and unknown problems. For a business to achieve the results it wants in a slimly- staffed organization, we can delegate work successfully only when we know the competence of individuals.

Consistency and fairness have to be demonstrable in any grading system for it to gain acceptance and credibility.

Breadth of skills is important. However, be cautious in giving credit for it, as it might result in a poor competence profile.

  • [1] Many of the engineering supervisors had come through a training routein which progression depended on residence time in specified positions,e.g., a four-year apprenticeship split into six-month modules. They foundit difficult to accept a system with no residence time hurdles.
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