Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Managing Fires

Never have I been made more aware of what managers really do on a daily basis than I was today at work.  The next time some one asks me what I do for a living, I'm going to answer "I put out fires."  Some days I'm very overpaid to do very little and other days I'm very underpaid to be responsible for way too much.  Today, I was very underpaid.  Every week I make a production schedule of what pretzels we make on which day and how much.  Then I put people in place to bake and pack them.  Today, the item I needed wouldn't run right on the line, so we gave up and tried to move to another item.  There were several problems with this.  I only have a certain number of days this week to get everything done to ship on Friday.  My schedule is very tight.  No wiggle room or room for errors.  I can't lose the shift, so I suggested we switch something from later in the week on to today's schedule.  Then I'm told we don't have the ingredients to make that item until Friday which is when it is scheduled.  Wow we're running that close on shipments of ingredients??  Crazy!  Fine, I picked a different item that we did have ingredients for to make.  That item needed 5 hours to run it.  I only had 2 hours left on the shift. I asked some of them to stay late, and they agreed.  I have to run the rest of that item tomorrow before I change another item onto tomorrow's schedule and shorten that run.  Every day this week is changed around.  I'm making things together that are difficult to run together and running short to get exactly what I need with no extra for stock.  This is poor efficiency on the line, but when the fires crop up, I have to put them out.  I spend a lot of my time this way.
I know some of you will think that if I just plan better then this wouldn't happen.  You tell me how I can plan for an equipment breakdown or an employee call off or ingredients that ran fine yesterday that just won't do it today.  As I see it, this is the life of a manger.

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