All of your responses to the cases presented in the Human Side of Engineering seem to lack suggestions for one of the most fundamental remedies to overcome place conflicts. To retain good people, to advance people, to get maximum efforts by knowledgeable, satisfied workers, you need training and more training and clear, two-way communication. Instead of a good worker being turned down for an upgrade because of lack of qualifications, a job could be offered to him with an agreement to undergo training to achieve the necessary qualifications. An excellent engineer without people skills certainly should be made to take HR courses; a good, but bigoted, worker could be saved by sensitivity training.
Clearly posted sales and profit statements would give the workers a clear picture of where the company is headed and would also indicate the labor cost it can support. This information would steal a lot of thunder from inflammatory union statements. Safety training instead of a reprimand might save a good worker who’s starting to get sloppy with safety procedures.
Most of your cases seem to have three resolutions — dismissal, reprimand, or heart-to-heart talk. Try good training and communications — you’ll be surprised by the results. — Peter Petersen, Engineering Team Leader, AS Corp.
Reply: Mr. Petersen makes some excellent points. It would be difficult to understate the importance of effective training, human resources, safety, skills, etc. And no less important, good communication. In fact, one key purpose of The Human Side is to help managers and supervisors in some small way to communicate more sensitively and intelligently. — Ray Dreyfack