Avoid confrontation to break down disguises

We all wear masks on occasion in an effort to conceal our true motivations. As a manager, it helps to probe and see through these disguises.

09/01/1999


We all wear masks on occasion in an effort to conceal our true motivations. As a manager, it helps to probe and see through these disguises. But it can cause more harm than good if, in identifying a subordinate's motivations, we expose him head-on in direct confrontation.

In an Ohio engineering department, Project Manager Harvey Gault had been waiting for months for George Mellon, a project supervisor in a key spot in the operation, to voluntarily retire and break in a replacement. Again and again, he had expressed his intention to do so. But every time a replacement candidate was proposed, Mellon found some fault with him. Lacks experience, personality problem, doesn't have the training and background to handle the job. The situation dragged on from month-to-month because Mellon's cooperation and help in training his eventual replacement were important to the operation.

But the supervisor was becoming a disruptive influence is Gault's fast-growing group. Younger engineers charged that he kept stalling projects on one ruse or another. He had grown contrary and irritable. One exceptionally bright engineer, well qualified to step into Mellon's shoes, complained that his career was being dead-ended because of Mellon's refusal to step down. It had reached a point, Gault decided, where action was called for.

His initial inclination was to confront Mellon directly and bring the matter to a head once and for all. On second thought, he wisely decided to discuss the problem with his boss.

Question: What strategy would you suggest to bring about a harmonious transition in replacing Mellon?

Parker's solution: "We both know that Mellon's real reason for clinging to his job has nothing to do with our inability to find a qualified person to replace him," Plant Engineer Ben Parker told Gault.

The project manager nodded agreement. "I know. It's his fear of stepping down, letting go, his unwillingness or inability to give up his status and income for an empty and uncertain future."

"That's it in a nutshell. It's a fairly clear and obvious disguise. But confronting him with this reality directly would be counterproductive for both him and the department. However disruptive, Mellon is still productive and a valuable asset. Instead of demanding his immediate retirement I think he would welcome the chance to ease into it gradually. We might utilize his skills in a training or consulting capacity over a period of months while he remains active in coaching and counseling his replacement. Let's try to approach it that way."





Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
July/Aug
GAMS preview, 2018 Mid-Year Report, EAM and Safety
June 2018
2018 Lubrication Guide, Motor and maintenance management, Control system migration
May 2018
Electrical standards, robots and Lean manufacturing, and how an aluminum packaging plant is helping community growth.
April 2018
2017 Product of the Year winners, retrofitting a press, IMTS and Hannover Messe preview, natural refrigerants, testing steam traps
August 2018
SCADA standardization, capital expenditures, data-driven drilling and execution
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, programming cavity pumps
April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
August 2018
Choosing an automation controller, Lean manufacturing
February 2018
Setting internal automation standards

Annual Salary Survey

After two years of economic concerns, manufacturing leaders once again have homed in on the single biggest issue facing their operations:

It's the workers—or more specifically, the lack of workers.

The 2017 Plant Engineering Salary Survey looks at not just what plant managers make, but what they think. As they look across their plants today, plant managers say they don’t have the operational depth to take on the new technologies and new challenges of global manufacturing.

Read more: 2017 Salary Survey

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Material Handling
This digital report explains how everything from conveyors and robots to automatic picking systems and digital orders have evolved to keep pace with the speed of change in the supply chain.
Electrical Safety Update
This digital report explains how plant engineers need to take greater care when it comes to electrical safety incidents on the plant floor.
IIoT: Machines, Equipment, & Asset Management
Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me