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More Work Isn’t Necessarily a Challenge

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I fondly remember a chat I had several years ago with a printer who was promoted to manage the production floor on which he’d labored for quite some time. His first order of business: to make sure the workers for whom he was now responsible were not simply kept busy, but challenged instead.

I fondly remember a chat I had several years ago with a printer who was promoted to manage the production floor on which he’d labored for quite some time. His first order of business: to make sure the workers for whom he was now responsible were not simply kept busy, but challenged instead.

He thought back to the times of seemingly endless busy work (obviously, this conversation took place long before the current economic climate took shape), clocking in and out, and doing the same thing from shift to shift. He recalled being told that more work on the automatic screen presses was heaped on him not just because he could handle it, but also because it represented a challenge for him—something to keep him motivated and interested in his work.

Unfortunately, more work wasn’t a challenge for this experienced screen printer. More work was simply more work. He decided upon his promotion to a supervisory role that greater efficiency and higher output would remain priorities, but cross-training and assigning new responsibilities would share the spotlight. He understood that real challenges—not just more of the same—would keep the workforce as passionate as possible about the company and its products. For example, meeting a quality goal on press would be rewarded with training on a new piece of equipment or in another part of the operation.

This change in culture was a win-win. Employees were moved from station to station, thereby preventing job burnout, and the company ultimately benefited by having an extremely nimble workforce. Anyone could fill in for anyone in any part of the production workflow, and everyone grew passionate about having more work to do.

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