What Managers Do

Discussion in 'Jobs I Have Had' started by Frank Sanoica, Apr 9, 2019.

  1. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    This will take explanation; bear with me, please. My co-worker Bruce and I, working for Dana Corporation in Indiana, where the product was rubber oil seals, were approached by a General Tire and Rubber Co. subsidiary in Phoenix to come work for them. Both companies were members of the Rubber Manufacturers of America, RMA, so particularly important industry developments were shared. Bruce & I had built a unique automated rotary molding machine for Dana; it was patented. We named it "Quanta".

    The Phoenix Co., Penn Athletic Products made tennis and racquetballs, both difficult to produce rubber products. Bill, their Research and Development Director, flew to Indiana and Bruce showed him the Quanta machine. Thus, Bruce accepted a position at Penn. A few months later, Bill again flew to Indiana and interviewed me over dinner. He asked if I minded if he contacted Dana to confirm details of my position; I told him I would rather he did not (obviously!). Bill agreed to my wish. About a week later, the offer was made, I accepted, and the little Hoosier girl from Dana whom I had married were off to Phoenix.

    One day, while Bill was out, dropping some information on his desk, I noticed a book on his bookshelf entitled "What Managers Do". I opened it, glancing at the contents. One chapter was entitled "Lying to subordinates". Investigating, I found the author condoned such practice. Bill evidently believed in the book.

    Bruce had revealed to me that Bill did indeed call Dana, after stating he would not: he LIED to me. This one act which went supremely against Bruce's and my principles put us both on constant alert. This story has a curious turn of events, but I'll not go into it here.
    Frank
     
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  2. Von Jones

    Von Jones Veteran Member
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    Next chapter, please.
     
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  3. Bobby Cole

    Bobby Cole Veteran Member
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    Well, I’ve read the synopsis a couple of times and what I’m trying to figure out is why you got ticked because the guy lied to you.

    Yeah, I know that my statement isn’t going to win friends and influence people but here’s where I am coming from. There are only a couple of exceptions in my life when I fully trusted managers or owners of businesses.
    In my secular field, I was in a position of “much demand” and as such I learned that I needed to be prepared for a manager or owner to tell me everything I wanted to hear whether they meant it or not. Smiling Faces do indeed tell lies (so the song goes) especially when the person behind that smiling face wants something so badly that he or she will do or say anything to get it.

    For example: The most popular prevarication occurs during bonus time. I always insisted on bonuses for meeting and surpassing food, bar and labor costs with each category having it’s own bonus schedule. Now, the management or ownership will always agree to that sort of contract but what they never knew from the start is that I always do my own book work and inventory and then challenge higher management or the owner himself to go back over my work.
    Why? Because my first experience with a bonus denying owner was that he had his own staff doing the inventory and would cook the books so I started doing them myself and yes, caught him and his staff in a lie.

    The problem that most staff and owners have with me is that I got tired really fast with people who would look me in the eye and lie hence my propensity for shooting from the hip. If you like what you hear or if you do not it is fine with me but that’s the way it is which is also the attitude I taught other managers under my teaching wing to be. Straight and to the point whether it’s good, bad or indifferent. No need for forced smiles or false pity. Let everyone know where they stand with you.

    All that said, I’m sorry you got beat up with the mistrust bug but it’s something that a lot of us have had to go through in order to formulate our own plan on how to thwart those nefarious individuals.
    As I have written before on a few occasions on this very forum, I only have absolute trust in my wife and God and everyone else is pretty much at arm’s length.
     
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  4. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    @Bobby Cole "......what I’m trying to figure out is why you got ticked because the guy lied to you. "

    Two reasons. I greatly dislike lying when it concerns mutual trust, especially between Manager and Subordinate, and,

    He lied to me again, when, after successfully providing the company with a working prototype machine projected to save over a million dollars annually, he announced as I was terminated that they felt I had been "ineffective".

    Truth was, I had had words with the Plant Manager, an egotistical tyrant, and he had found means to "can" me.

    The company had for years sought a machine capable of doing what mine did, having contracted with several machine-builders and spent some hundreds of thousands of dollars with no success. One of their early mistakes was to not obtain a "guarantee of performance" clause, that being something the proposed builders would NEVER bring up during negotiations.
     
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  5. John Brunner

    John Brunner Very Well-Known Member
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    Gee, I wish I had worked for people who needed to read a book to be given permission to lie.

    Too many of them seemed to gravitate to it naturally. ;)
     
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  6. Hal Pollner

    Hal Pollner Veteran Member
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    Summing it up:

    Workers do things.

    Managers get things done.

    H.P.
     
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  7. Beth Gallagher

    Beth Gallagher Veteran Member
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    Let me fix that for you, Hal.

    "Managers get things done. But not without workers."
     
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  8. John Brunner

    John Brunner Very Well-Known Member
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    It depends on the manager, obviously.
    It also depends on the business.

    The one thing that never ceased to astound me was how Corporate America often promotes unwilling employees into manager positions.

    Basically, you have someone who is great at what they do, who the company does not want to lose, and who has topped out on the Salary Range for that position. The company does not want to change the position's Salary Range because it increases costs for every employee in that job type (now and in the future.) So the company says "We can give you more money, but you have to have staff underneath you." This is often done without giving the poor employee any training. And all he or she wanted was a salary increase.

    So now you have someone who does not want to manager people and does not have the skills to manage people being put in charge of the performance and careers of others and not being real good at it. The morale of the staff is not all that great and their productivity may suffer, as may the productivity of the unwilling manager. All of this damage is done so they can write the guy a bigger check!

    So to the original question of "What do managers do?'
    They usually make more money. Sometimes it's warranted, other times it's counter-productive, and any damage done is not always the [unwilling] manager's fault.
     
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  9. Cody Fousnaugh

    Cody Fousnaugh Veteran Member
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    Heck, my last Director/Supervisor done a number of things during working hours. In the summer AM hours, leaving the office to go to a Putting Range for a couple of hours. How do I know he did this, he took me once, but didn't tell me where we were going. If he had a company meeting at 1PM, that lasted an hour, he'd go home after the meeting. There were many times that he didn't do a full 8-hour shift. How do I know this? When he'd leave the office, he'd say "I'm leaving, see you in the morning."

    My office was right across from his and one time, a Company Maintenance Man stopped by his office, after he'd left, to ask him something. I told the guy "he's already left, but will be back in the morning." The Company Maintenance Man said, "sure wish I had his hours to come and go as I please."
     
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  10. John Brunner

    John Brunner Very Well-Known Member
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    @Cody Fousnaugh

    As I always reminded myself, there is someone above bad bosses rewarding that bad behaviour.
    But if your lazy boss kept problems off of his boss' back, then a million sins shall be forgiven...understandably so.

    As an aside, I spent nearly all my career outside of Washington DC.
    You wanna hear "Arrive Late/Leave Early/Pajamas & Slippers" stories? I got 'em.

    And those stories include relatively high-ranking agency managers meeting with contractors.
     
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  11. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Senior Staff
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    When I worked for Champion Paper Company, I was offered a supervisor position repeatedly. I was the chief shop steward and vice president of our union local, and the company needed a supervisor for the graveyard shift. They particularly wanted a supervisor who had risen through the ranks and knew how to do all of the jobs because the graveyard shift was often a skeleton crew, and didn't have all of the support people, such as anyone in the machine maintenance department.

    They appointed me as acting supervisor, which meant more money per hour, I forget how much, but I was still a union employee. I was an acting supervisor for about four years. Every six months or so, they'd tell me that the acting supervisor position was a temporary position and I'd have to decide whether I wanted the promotion. I would tell them that I had decided and that I wanted to continue as a union employee.

    As a salaried supervisor, my pay would be raised significantly, if figured out as a 40-hour-per-week job, but supervisors were frequently held over for one thing or another and they didn't get paid overtime. As a union employee, I got time-and-a-half for anything over 8 hours a day or anything over 40 hours a week, and that would turn into double-time after 12 hours, and triple time on weekends. Even my vacation time was figured as 48 hours. The way I figured it, I was making more money as an acting supervisor than I would make as a supervisor, and the ladder didn't go any further without a college degree, although we were still eligible for raises. Since I was the senior union employee at the plant, and I knew how to do all of the jobs on the production floor, I could put in for anyone's overtime. In other words, if an entry-level stacker was asked to work overtime and he didn't want to, according to our contract he could only be mandated to work over if no other qualified person agreed to do it. So if I didn't have anything else going on, I'd agree to do it, which meant that I would be paid overtime based on my base rate for doing an entry-level position. Often, they'd decide that they didn't really need anyone, but I got all the overtime I was willing to work, sometimes taking home a couple of thousand a week in the 1970s, which wasn't bad.

    Plus, I had noticed that shift supervisors were sometimes treated like managers of a baseball team, and fired if they had a bad season, or transferred to another plant, whether they liked it or not.

    From time to time, a union employee would complain that it was a conflict of interest for me to be the chief shop steward and acting supervisor, but this was an elected position that they kept reelecting me to. By our contract, if I had to come in during the day after working the graveyard shift to conduct union business, it counted as overtime.

    Bringing this more on-topic, I suppose that what a manager is expected to do would differ from one company to another. As a supervisor, I was responsible for making sure that the machine operators were working on the right orders because we produced bags for a whole lot of grocery stores and retailers, as well as the GSA. When there were special orders, I'd have to decide whether to set that up on another machine or to switch another machine over to the special order. Since I worked the graveyard shift and there were no office people around, I sometimes cheated and I'd complete the special order myself if it was a short run, which boosted the shift's production. Since everyone on the shift was entitled to any incentives for high production, no one would turn me in even if they did realize what I was doing. As a union employee, I was allowed to work on machines, unlike salaried supervisors, so I would often start up the machines we weren't using to make sure they were in working order for the day shift.

    Of course, I was also responsible for making sure that everyone else was doing their jobs, and for quality, but we were a pretty motivated bunch, so I can't remember ever having a problem there, although machine operators would sometimes like to pretend they hadn't noticed they had completed an order because switching to another order could mean an hour or more of downtime, which would put a dent in their production rates, and Champion had several incentive programs, individual and collective. So, I would have to make sure that orders weren't overrun. Usually, I could minimize the damage by setting the order up on another machine, so that the operator could simply switch machines.

    There was a fair amount of paperwork and, although I wasn't the one who was doing all the paperwork, I was responsible for it, so I'd have to go through the reports that were completed by machine operators to make sure they made sense, and make sure that the number of bales of bags that the machine operators were claiming to have produced matched the number of bales the warehouse forklift driver said that he had taken away. When we were running a skeleton crew, we didn't have a warehouse guy, so that was when I learned to drive a forklift.

    Of course, there were plant managers, personnel managers, production managers, and other types of managers. At Champion, our plant managers were usually hired right out of college, and they didn't deal much with anything having to do with what the plant manufactured. I sometimes wondered if they even knew what it was that we made. I won't pretend to know everything that their job entailed, but they were rarely out on the production floor unless they were giving someone a tour. They interacted with the corporate offices, and with company-union issues at the higher levels or during contract negotiations, and were probably responsible for managing the office staff.

    At other manufacturing plants that I have worked for, there would be one plant manager, one personnel manager, and a production manager for each shift. The production managers performed the same job that was known as a shift supervisor at Champion, as the shift supervisors did not have a production manager above them.
     
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  12. John Brunner

    John Brunner Very Well-Known Member
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    My sister worked as a Field Arbitrator for the NLRB. We would have our spirited discussions of Union vs Right to Work, especially when I had been treated unfairly in my job.

    I've managed people in a variety of businesses and industries, and for the most part really enjoyed helping folks in their careers. The one part about it I did not like was knowing that every one of my staff was a potential conduit for other people who had an axe to grind...that every transgression (real or perceived) of every direct report was gonna land on my desk.

    I was fortunate that the last 10 years of my career I had no direct reports. After decades of being a supervisor, it was rather freeing.
     
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  13. Hal Pollner

    Hal Pollner Veteran Member
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    Then there is what is known as "micro-managing".

    Howell
     
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  14. John Brunner

    John Brunner Very Well-Known Member
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    And the great thing about people who over-control is that when things go wrong, it's never their fault.

    I've yet to figure that one out. I guess the rest of us are just poor executors of their perfection.
     
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