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How to Move Smoothly from Rookie to Print-Shop Manager

(October 2008) posted on Mon Oct 06, 2008

This is the story of a screen printer who, after years of hands-on experience on the production floor, gets promoted to a shop-management position. Discover the struggles he faces during the transition and how he overcomes them.


By Gordon Roberts

How would you feel if someone came into your home and immediately started criticizing the way you run your household? You would probably think that the person is rude and obnoxious, and you would begin to figure out ways to get him back out onto the street. You certainly wouldn’t cooperate with him in any way. This is how your new employees will react when you start pointing out all their deficiencies.

Spend your first week getting to know people and letting them get to know you. It’s also a good time to sit back and watch what’s going on. The hardest thing at this point is resisting the urge to jump in and start making changes. Follow several jobs through the entire manufacturing process, and talk with the operators at every step. Once you start this dialogue, the tendency is for the discussion to degenerate into a litany of complaints about the lousy machinery or the poor quality of the artwork, and soon you are plumbing the depths of your employees’ professional depression.

Don’t let this happen. Stop the conversation at this point and ask them to spend some time thinking about the one change that could be implemented without a lot of expense that they think would improve the part of the process in which they are involved. Their suggestions will surprise you. If you feel that their solution is practical, let them implement it. The fact that it’s their idea will force them to get behind it and make it work. Pair this with their desire to impress the new boss with their abilities, and you have a win-win situation that turns the negativity into something positive. You also can get a good idea of where the real talent lies in your new workplace, giving you a window into the character of your new employees.


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