My first real job was as a carpenter helper with Goodwin and Murphy construction company on a bridge building job on interstate 65 just south of Verbena, Alabama. One day, I and the carpenter were assigned to cut a few dozen braces out of 2×4 boards. We used a big DeWalt table saw to perform this task. The carpenter took a long 2×4, used his square to square the board end, and cut it. He checked the end of the board to make sure the cut was square. He took his ruler, measured the desired length of the 2×4, and took the square to mark the cut. He cut the piece. After this, he made sure the board was square and the piece was the exact length we needed. I thought it is going to take all day to cut these braces. Then the carpenter placed a “P” on the piece he had cut. I asked what the “P” meant. He told me this board is our pattern. If we measured each piece one would be shorter or longer than another, if we use one piece to measure the next piece the same thing would happen. This would mean that no two pieces would be exact. But, if we use this pattern to measure each piece they would all be the same. It did not take us long to cut the pieces. The pattern was the key.
First line managers are the pattern for their department. They must know the processes of the department and how these benefit the company. Most times new employees will be placed with an existing employee to learn the details of these processes. But, the manager must make sure the new employee understands the mission of the company and the mission of the department. This role must not be delegated to anyone. If you want the employee to understand this role, you are the pattern. You must take the time to fully inform the new employee of the company and departments missions. It is imperative that the new employee understands the job they will be performing in relation to the accomplishment of your department , other departments, and the company’s missions. If these discussions are performed by anyone other than the manager they will not come up to the standard. Or, these issues will not be discussed at all. This is too important to be left to chance. This process should not be allowed to fall short of the mark
As a first line manager, I explain these key concepts. Our parent company and the companies it owns. How our company fits into the mission of our parent company. I review the organizational charts of the parent and our company. I review the mission statement of our company, and how our department fits into that mission. I review the mission of each department with whom we interface. How our mission and their job help these departments accomplish their mission. I review in depth the mission of our department. The job’s importance to the accomplishment of our department’s mission is emphasized. How I expect the employee to treat the other employees in our department. What I expect from them as an employee in our department and what they can expect from me. I review the specific duties of the position they will hold. We review the daily routine of the position. I send them to the field for a few days to work with the employees we interface with. I want them to hear and see how the person, our customer, in the field relates to our department. These issues are key factors to the success of the new employee. They deserve to hear this information from me. I was the person who hired them, I owe them that respect. This overall information training can take two to three weeks about half a day with me. The other half of the day, I place the new employee with another employee performing the job. I explain to the trainee and the trainer specifically what I expect them to do.
Most important in this process is giving the new employee a copy of my personal philosophy. I explain each statement in detail. What I mean by each statement in relationship to them. This is my personal commitment to them, If I fail on any one of these items, I explain, it is their duty to let me know. Working in the department is a two way commitment; them to the department mission, and me helping them. It takes both of us working together to accomplish this mission.
The pattern must be right, it must be square. It cannot be left to chance. You as a first line manager are responsible to make sure this information is communicated properly.