Bridging the Two Worlds- the Organizational Dilemma

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I had been hired by Aluminum Elements Corp. (AEC), and it was my first day of work. I was 26 years old, and I was now the manager of AEC’s customer service group, which looked after customers, logistics and some of the raw material purchasing. My superior, George, was the vice president of the company. AEC manufactured most of its products, a majority of which were destined for the construction industry, from aluminum. As I walked around the shop floor, the employees appear to be concentrating on their jobs, barely noticing me. Management held daily meetings in which various production issues were discussed. No one from the shop floor was invited to these meetings unless there was specific problem. Later I also learned that management…show more content…
I needed to keep my mind open to new ideas. Because the shop employees expected me to make requests and demands, I made a point of not doing any of that. Soon enough the employees became friendly and started to accept me as one of their own, or at least as a different type of management person. During my third month of work, the employees showed me how to improve the scheduling of jobs, especially those on the aluminum slitter. In fact, the greatest contribution was made by John, who demonstrated better ways to combine the most common slitting sizes and reduce waste by retaining some of the ‘common-sized’ material for new orders. Seeing the opportunity, I programmed a spreadsheet to calculate and track inventory. This, in addition to better planning and forecasting, allowed us to reduce our new order turnarounds from four to five weeks to one or two days. By the time I was employed for four months, I realized that members from other departments came to me and asked me to relay messages to the shop employees. When I asked why they were delegating this task to me, they stated that I spoke the same language as the shop employees. Increasingly I became the messenger for the office-to-floor shop communication. One morning George called me into his office and complimented me on the levels of customer service and the improvements that had been achieved. As we talked, I mentioned that we could not have done it without John’s help. “He really knows his

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