Friday, November 2, 2012

"The Fall Guys" Part 2 by Carmen Brickner

Let’s look at a day in the life of a supervisor aka coach during the transition from top-down management to "teams".
Show up a half hour early to read all the wordy theoretical and complaining emails and find out what went wrong the night before.
From 7 to 8 in the morning they are supposed to be old time supervisors getting all the work set up. 
Then they are supposed to shift identity to become coaches and teachers and play nice, using TWI or teaching or cross training.  Oh yes, they also need to cover the machines themselves because the regular operators are off getting training for 40 hours that the supervisors got a four hour overview about because they are ‘too important’ to be off the floor for 40 hours.
They have to keep the work going, pretend they are coaching and asking for input, and taking time to use Socratic methods of teaching through questioning until a manager wants to know where the hell the shipment is to some complaining customer.  Then we want them to shift back into Attila the Hun to yell at the teams to RUSH that job…just for now…and later we will go back to CI methodologies…but GET THIS (expletive) JOB OUT NOW!
Of course, six weeks from now when this situation is brought up, the slippery memory of management yelling at the lead to be a tough ‘supervisor’ will conveniently forget their forceful order, and will blame the faulty systematic scheduling on an egotistic supervisor who doesn’t want to give up power. 
Until 3:30 when another crisis comes in and they go to the ‘supervisor’ and tell him to again suspend lean and get a rush job out to please a customer or senior management.
IT IS CRAZY MAKING!!!! And then we wonder why this strong, directive, detailed, perfectionist person who we promoted into a control position loses it or has a heart attack.  They can’t win, can’t please anyone, aren’t being trained or supported, and everyone has gone into the change journey with the preconceived notion that the problem will be the first line of supervision because that is what all the books say.
It doesn’t have to be that way.  I have found these people to be among the dearest assets. They work crazy hours, often without any overtime making less than their subordinates, fix problems, juggle hundreds of details and deadlines, and have been amazingly loyal.  Their wealth of knowledge is amazing!  They are too important to just write off.
At each step along the journey, we need to carefully plan what changes have to be made in terms of knowledge, skills, decision-making, crisis management, and communications for all the levels: what does senior management shift down and how do they mentor supervisors to become coaches, what does a supervisor need to learn to become a coach, and how do the teams learn to bring issues in a new way to their coaches?  How will we handle out of the ordinary situations? What infrastructures do we need to put in place?  How can we keep these natural problem solvers engaged and challenged by helping them become innovators?  What do they need to learn about how people learn so they can become great teachers?
Let’s start by being realistic about the rock and hard place that supervisors face every day as they keep the place running profitably while supporting their teams’ growth during these culture shifts.  If we concentrate on helping leverage these critical pivot positions, the changes flow much smoother and healthier for everyone.

CLEARbrick, Inc. is dedicated to working with individuals and organizations willing to create healthy relationships and develop the culture, skills and processes necessary for sustainable innovation and financial success for all stakeholders.

Carmen Brickner is the founder and principal of CLEARbrick, Inc. and has recently expanded her service area by opening an office in Tampa, FL in addition to her current CT based organization.
(860) 478-9465

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