Saturday, 18 October 2014

Personalities ...

Ever since I started my new more senior position, I've realised just how good I have it at my factory. Despite the ever-increasing hours and seemingly everlasting demands on my time, we (the management team) all work pretty well together with each focusing on their areas of strength.

For example, I hate working out in the heat of the factory unpacking boxes and putting things away whereas the 2IC hates being stuck in front of a computer in the office doing endless paperwork.  

Solution:  we trade duties .. he does the box-unpacking-and-putting-away and I do some of his 'paperwork'.  Obviously there are certain things that he still has to do (he is a manager after all)  but on the whole this works well for us.  There's very little complaining and assigning of blame and a lot of 'just get it done' happening which I am very grateful for.

The fact that we are all able to speak openly to each other (most of the time) and there isn't that whole "it's-not-my-job-I'm-not-doing-it" mentality really helps.  Don't get me wrong ... I'm not saying there's never any issues but we can usually resolve them without having to  go to Head Office for further intervention.  Every workplace has people who bitch and moan about every little thing but luckily, there's not that many and we have all got our own ways of ignoring dealing with him them.

Some of the other factories don't have it anywhere near as good as we do though.  As I now oversee all the other plants and their purchasing people, I am finding out just how bad it can be.

Originally when my predecessor left, his plant's management wanted me to move up there as they wanted someone with a lot more experience and knowledge.  Despite being given the company car and fuel card, I didn't (and still don't) want to go there as it is about an hour's drive each way in traffic and I didn't (and still don't) want to work as part of that particular 'team' (and I use the word very loosely!).  Add in the fact that my team didn't want me to go and the decision was made to hire someone through a labour hire firm to take his place. Unfortunately, she only received 4 days of on-the-job training with him before he left. The plant she is working at is a 24/7 operation which means that it is pretty full-on from a purchasing perspective as she needs to make sure everything (spare parts, additives and packaging) is available at a moment's notice so there's no lost time.

She has been doing an awesome job, especially considering the complexities of learning a whole new computer system and way of doing things, but over the last month or so, there have been a lot of issues (mostly started by other 'team' members) and she is now at the stage of wanting to leave.  She has openly said that she is looking for another job and as soon as one comes up, she's out of there!

Most of these issues seem to be related to 5 or so people who are all supposed to work closely together on a daily basis to ensure everything is as it should be.  Unfortunately, of those 5 or so people, at least 4 are (or come across as) rather arrogant and know-it-all types.  The person doing the purchasing job is also a bit fiery and has a tendency to bite back immediately and collapse into tears later.  Add in the pressures of the job itself and it's not really a surprise that there's issues there.

There's also some issues relating to what she is actually required to do.  This position does vary a bit from site to site but there seems to be a lot of "that's not my job; you do it" type stuff happening too, resulting in procedures not being followed and her actual duties not being completed due to lack of time.

As I'm the senior purchasing person, I'm now in the position of "what-the-f***-do-I-do-about-this"?  Some of the things going round and round in my head night after night are:

  • do I try to get her to stay if she's that unhappy?  
  • do I swap plants with her (hopefully only temporarily) to get things sorted out?  
  • if I swap plants, am I going to be allowed to leave to come back to my own plant?
  • is me swapping plants actually going to help or will it make things worse? (I'm not a great one for tact!!)
  • do I bury my head in the sand and leave it up to plant management?  (who have been doing such a bang-up job of dealing with this to date ... )
  • do I try to get the head office people more involved?  (not likely to be helpful)
  • do I quit and find another job? 
Despite all my tough words of advice to others, I hate conflict and confrontation and am a bit of a huge wuss when it comes to calling someone on their bad behaviour. I'm a people pleaser so will often put myself out to do things for others at work.

Talking to hubby for advice of dealing with assholes blokes in a male-dominated workplace has resulted in "just tell them to pull their heads in" which is fine in theory but as they've already been told this numerous times, isn't going to make a difference in this case.

After much thinking and stressing and then thinking some more, I've come up with the following ideas:

  1. Go up there and work alongside her for a few days so I can (hopefully) see what's happening.
  2. Ask for a meeting with all concerned parties (with a head office representative as well)
  3. Set out her actual duties in writing to clear up any confusion.
  4. Give her a roster/schedule of when things have to be done (eg Monday - stock take & invoice processing)
  5. Cross my fingers and hope to god it all works!
Please cross your fingers for me and if I disappear, I'll be under the desk curled up in a ball!