|1993 D4 Rebuild - Is that a beard?|
Along with the 45 skilled millwrights were a day turn foreman and three planner foremen, all with 25+ years of experience to my 6. I was very fortunate to have a strong mentor who helped guide me through a treacherous workplace minefield. Rather than micro-managing me, he lent me a wide berth and allowed me to come to him for advice. He encouraged me to ask the questions, rather than telling me how to do every aspect of my job. I also received a great deal of latitude from the production supervisors and steelmaking manager. Within about six months, my feet were wet, and I was becoming more comfortable in the new position. That first six months however, was the most difficult of my career. The step from field engineer to general foreman was as daunting as jumping across a canyon.
They don't teach about labor relations, progressive discipline, workplace violence, or dealing with troubled employees in engineering school. They didn't even teach me anything about these challenges in any kind of company training. I certainly learned, mostly the hardway, about how easily people will try to take advantage of a greenhorn. What was even more difficult was working with employees that were recovering alcoholics and drug users and the stresses in their lives that would affect their recovery, attendance, and work-family conflicts. It was a challenge to balance the responsibilities of a supervisor with those of an advisor and an active listener. Complicating matters further was a tenuous labor/management relationship that created havoc on a weekly basis.
|1996 New General Foreman|
I was fortunate to have a successful three and a half year tenure that led to a once in a career opportunity when my supervisory experience allowed me to join a new steel company building a state of the art facility. When I switched employers back in 2000, I earned the opportunity to work with some of the best people in the industry. Nothing so far has compared to those 3-1/2 dynamic years in the barrel for the challenge and reward that it offered, even though I made more mistakes in those three years than the 12 years since. Making mistakes is an integral part of learning. As long as we don't make the same mistakes over and over. Earning respect is about doing what we say each day. Even when we must administer discipline to an employee, as long as we act objective and consistently without favoritism, our actions will show our professionalism. Nobody enjoys being corrected, but if we correct others while at the same time performing to the same expectations, those we supervise will acknowledge that we are doing our job, and the motives aren't personal.
|2002 SDI-CCI EAF Startup|
(I am on the far right, with whiskers)
|2010 Whiskers no longer needed |