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Old Habits Die Hard, 44 Years in the Union and Just Joined Management

I saw the ad for a Tool Room supervisor on the corporate website and it made me sick. I didn't want to be involved in tumbling the edges off of another new boss. I railed against the last one the company hired for the tool room. I told them he didn't have the temperament to boss in a union environment. I was right unfortunately. He cracked...big time...fell apart....lost it. 5 squad cars came to the plant twice. It wasn't pretty and I didn't like seeing a man in that condition. He couldn't even speak, he was howling and making animal noises, but he found the words to swear at his boss and his bosses boss and the police lady dispatcher though. Racial slurs and all. Geez...

Outsiders are useless as bosses in most cases in our skilled departments. Big money paid for some one to give you a piece of paper to go some where they can't even find, to work on some thing they know nothing about, in 300,000 sq ft of pleasure palace. So not wanting to be bossed around by other lunatics on a power trip or starchy young know nothing climbers, that want to stand on the bodies so they look taller, I gritted my teeth and tossed my name in the hat. Heck I'm barely physically able to do my job anymore, climbing in things and torquing bolts. More than half of my work is done upside down and backwards by feel. My physical decline is almost unfair to my coworkers. The more physical jobs are harder for me now than just 2 years ago and some I just can no longer perform. To darn old to lay on my stomach in the back of a press and work above head high. If I was a horse they'd put me down.

The company hit me like a drunk driver. Our recent regime change in the toolroom management has given us what seems to be one of the best leaders I've ever seen as head of skilled trades. If ever there was a time to get in to skilled supervision it was now. He interviewed me and sent me to his boss with his recommendation. I got a delicious offer and started training 2 weeks ago. I've told myself that even if I hate it I can gut it out for 3 more years til full retirement or stay longer if it's a cool gig.

It started on day one. I'm being trained by the day shift boss when our boss walks in and inquires about a particularly foul job that just came into the office to be handed out. He was only there for 3 or 4 minutes and I had popped up out of my chair 3 times to go look busy so I wouldn't be assigned that job. I finally realized what I was doing but it still took a conscious effort sit still. Next day I kept going to the stock room to get supplies and was getting miffed that the attendant was missing. Oh wait, I'm the boss of the stockroom too and I can go in the locked door at any time. Man, I keep forgetting the office has air conditioning. I'm feeling a little silly at this point. It may wear off eventually. 2 weeks in and I still feel that initial gut kick feeling when a nasty job comes in. I take a few breaths and realize I don't have to do it. It doesn't make me feel any better to give it to one of pals I've worked with for years either. I won't ask anyone to do anything I can't or couldn't do at one time. One of them could have had this job and I would have been happy with that.

I really loved being a die maker, physically really hard for me anymore. People congratulate me but it should be condolences. I'm no longer able to do what I love. I love working with my hands, solving problems, machining, making things. Not allowed to do any work anymore except for training or experimentation. If I had a penny for every rule I've broken over my lifetime, I'd be retired.

I saw this day coming. So far, it is better to shovel it, than eat it. Up to 2 months ago, one of my favorite sayings was , "Not my monkeys, Not my circus". My monkeys and circus now! I don't feel bossy and don't want to ever have to be some one I'd hate if I was still in the union. I know what it's like to have many crappy bosses over the last 44 years. I never really saw myself doing this. I keep repeating, I think it was the John Glenn prayer, "Lord, please don't let me screw this up".
 
Your people are lucky to have you. In my union shop management torpedos anyone that does not toe the line or kiss serious management butt. Especially if one was a shop steward or strongly pro union. There is one other way to advance. You just have to screw up so bad that they dont management does not want to acknowledge the screw up. They then promote you. Right now we have lost so many employees we are working 60 to 72 hours a week. Vacation time is denied and they cant figure out why morale is in the dumpster.
 

luvmysuper

My Elbows Leak
The experience you have had, good and bad, can be used to temper the ugly parts of the job.
Leadership isn't a born trait no matter what anyone says.
It will take time to settle in to the new job. Try to use your experience to make the ugly jobs acceptable if not palatable to your crew.
The way you hand out assignments and tasking is more important than to whom. A kind word, a tip or trick you learned over the years, and sometimes firm resistance to pushback, from above or below, are tools that will help.
Best wishes to you in this endeavor, be the boss you have always wanted.
 
Congrats. You may not have seen yourself in this po, but you can often do far more good for your team by being there. Employees don't work for you, they work with you. If you support them, which includes telling them where they need to do better, where they are excelling, and do what you can to provide them the tools and training they need to do their work, then you will be a successful manager.
 
Interesting story, thanks for sharing it. My head hurts just thinking about what you are going to go through. Awhile ago before I retired I went from "Bargaining Unit" to "Management" and did so thinking that I would "make a difference".

All I will say is this: It isn't as "Us versus them" as people say it is. Sadly, I quickly discovered that it turned out to be "Us versus Us" the entire time.

Your eyes are about to be opened wide. And don't think for one hot minute that those Guys who are going to sit on the other side of the bargaining table are your friends anymore. Because as they will assuredly tell you, "We didn't change, you did."

Glad I'm retired.
 
I saw this day coming. So far, it is better to shovel it, than eat it. Up to 2 months ago, one of my favorite sayings was , "Not my monkeys, Not my circus". My monkeys and circus now! I don't feel bossy and don't want to ever have to be some one I'd hate if I was still in the union. I know what it's like to have many crappy bosses over the last 44 years. I never really saw myself doing this. I keep repeating, I think it was the John Glenn prayer, "Lord, please don't let me screw this up".
Great story, my Dad was the purchasing agent for an oil refinery owned by Union Pacific, his office? The Toolroom.

You will do great.

~doug~
 
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