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Old 08-08-07, 06:40 PM   #1
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Not sure how to handle this at work *long*

When I was hired at my current workplace, my purpose and expectation was to spend much of my day inside the clean room (where all manufacturing takes place) maintaining machines, primarily preventative maintenance. Well, it never really took off that way...
I go in the clean room probably about once a week, and the production manager ends up maintaining everything. I never got much of an introduction to the clean room, and nobody has much time to show me the workings of the clean room.

What's ended up happening is that the engineers have been using me for other things instead. Basically our engineer dept. is swamped with projects, we are in way over our head and are one man short. So, they've been putting a lot of pressure on me to get things done for them. This might be paperwork, solidworks stuff, and most important; making stuff. I spend 75% of my day in the shop making replacement parts for the clean room, making prototype products, or making fixtures for production use.

Well today I overheard a conversation between the production manager and an engineer. Basically, the manager was saying she is getting frustrated with me and my lack of presence, lack of anything related to me being in the clean room. She said that she thinks if I want to stay employed, that I need to do my job, step up to my role, etc.

When something isn't working right in the clean room though, she will never tell me. If I ask, she says everything is fine. Instead she just finds her favorite engineer to fix whatever it is. When that engineer came back today from a 2 day seminar, she had a page long list of things that have not been working right for those 2 days. SHe could have told me, and I could have fixed that stuff very easily, if I had known of course.

The engineers are giving me positive feedback regarding what I do for them, so I know they're happy. I feel like I am being tugged in two directions right now. The engineers are putting more and more pressure on me, in the form of large projects with upcoming due dates. Yet all the while, this manager expects me to be in the clean room for a lot of time. I have a list of preventative maintenance procedures to follow, some of which is weekly, monthly, etc., which I do. BUt she wants more, she wants me to be in there doing every little thing it seems, EVERYTHING. A bolt on a table is loose, a battery needs replacement, they need a new sticker for something. I don't mind fixing things, but there is no way I can stand in there waiting for something to go wrong, AND meet my deadlines at the same time.

It's bothering me that I have two very different expectations. THis lady expected me to be in the clean room all day when I was hired, but the office expected me to be in there only a little bit, and help out with engineering tasks. How can I satisfy both parties?
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Old 08-08-07, 06:41 PM   #2
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Is there an HR department?
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Old 08-08-07, 06:49 PM   #3
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Not really.
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Old 08-08-07, 07:03 PM   #4
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The one who hired you is the one who can fire you. You should make an appointment to discuss with her the new responsibilities added to your position by the engineers (about which she may be unaware), and indicate that this additional workload, which was not part of your original job description as provided by her, is interfering with your ability to do the job for which she hired you. Ideally, you should also have the head engineer present. Ask her exactly what is expected of you, and indicate your willingness to be 100% in the clean room, but tell her of your concerns about the work demanded of you by the engineers. One way or another, this scheduling issue regarding use of your time needs to be resolved. I can certainly understand the need to have someone full-time in the clean room, even if it means just waiting for something to go wrong. This is a tightly-controlled environment, and a full-time presence is important, even if they have to hire someone else to do this so you can be utilized by the engineers. And it looks like they do need another person on board, based on the scenario you've described.
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Old 08-08-07, 07:07 PM   #5
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Listen to Vega. She knows what she's talking about.
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Old 08-08-07, 07:17 PM   #6
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It's easy. Do what your boss tells you to do. If you don't understand what they tell you, ask for clarification and do it. Have them put it in writing so you both are clear on expectations. Being in management, I deal with this kind of thing often. What I find is that an employee may not like what they are doing and seek collateral duties that are not usually part of their job description. These tend to take them away from the job they were originally hired for. When I find this happening, I make sure and put in writing what is expected of them before they take on any other collateral duties. Some hard workers actually excel at both completing their assigned jobs and extra duties, these I promote.
Good luck.
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Old 08-08-07, 07:32 PM   #7
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Well I should have mentioned...
SHe didn't hire me. She was not at the interview, only the engineers were. Right in the job description, it says "to report to engineers". But this lady is a manager, and does have influence.
When the sales guy (who is also one I report to when the engineers say so) asked me to do something and the production manager gave me some crap about not doing what she wants, he told me that she isn't really my boss.

I think I need to prove to her that I can actually fix stuff in there. What's been happening is that when somebody breaks down, she goes to see her favorite engineer, who goes and spends an hour fixing it. But then he is behind on his stuff, and consequently hands some of that stuff down to me. Meanwhile, each time something fails and she asks her favorite engineer for help, she gets madder and more upset with me for not being there....even though I have no way of knowing.
The head engineer was fired 2 weeks ago.
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Old 08-08-07, 07:42 PM   #8
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Not to be a ****** nozzle or anything, but get your resume updated. Find allies in the engineering department you can depend on for a reference, and put out some feelers.

AND see if you can resolve the issues with the production manager. Don't just wait for the other shoe to drop, especially if you can't afford to be without a job. Best of luck.
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Old 08-08-07, 07:43 PM   #9
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They really do need somebody else full time. My guess as to why this has happened:
On the job requirements, there was no mention anywhere of CAD/solidworks experience, or machining experience. They did not expect the person in my position to have this experience, and I suspect were going to offer a sub 10 dollar/hour rate, like most everybody else gets in that building. I have intermediate solidworks experience, and extensive machining experience. They hired me on that, offered me an above average rate for that company, and I think they figure they are going to take full advantage of my skills, especially since they are paying me beyond what they normally would. I can't blame them, I would do the same.
THe production manager however, was not informed of this. She flat out said "when I heard they were looking for a preventative maintenance guy, I was thrilled". This leads me to believe they didn't tell her that they had slightly different plans for me than the original.
Unfortunately, they won't hire anybody else.

Tomorrow I am going to try and cut a deal. That will be that I'll spend 15 minutes every morning maintaining anything I can find. Oil this, grease that, tighten this, align that, etc.
THis will be ON TOP of the already established maintenance schedule that I was told to follow from day 1.
When something breaks down, or there is any suspicion of something not sounding right, PAIGE ME. The operator of the machine listens to it all day long, she should be able to tell when something isn't sounding right.
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Old 08-08-07, 07:45 PM   #10
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Not to be a ****** nozzle or anything, but get your resume updated. Find allies in the engineering department you can depend on for a reference, and put out some feelers.

AND see if you can resolve the issues with the production manager. Don't just wait for the other shoe to drop, especially if you can't afford to be without a job. Best of luck.
Well, I've only been at this company for 1.5 months. I don't think I am ready just yet to give up. The production manager did say "I don't want to give up on Bernie".
I do believe the engineers are happy with me at least.
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Old 08-08-07, 08:04 PM   #11
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Vega sounds like she has particular experience in this sort of matter, so I would give her post close attention.

Here is my perspective. I a nutshell, it sounds to me like you got hired for one thing that was below your skill level (clean room) and it was soon recognized that you had talents above and beyond that initial job description. You are clearly in high demand, and if the collective engineering body is behind you then you can really use that card to your advantage if you play it right. I don't know who has the power to hire or fire you. I would need to know more about the relationship between the manager lady and the person who has the power to fire you. If the firing authority has no contact with engineering, then you somehow have to bring engineering and the firing authority together. If the firing authority already has strong ties to engineering, then go to that firing authority and explain the situation. The firing authority will go to the engineers and ask them what's up. They will all stand up for you at that point and say hey, this guy can do EVERYthing (as a former engineer, I know that SolidWorks(TM) experience is valuable, for example). At that point they can cut manager lady out of the picture completely, bring you onto engineering support full time, and you're set.
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Old 08-08-07, 08:47 PM   #12
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1. Listen to Vega

2. Always network towards your next job. That doesn't neccessarily mean an active job search, but have the beginnings in place. One day you may get an opportunity you can't believe; and you'll always be ready if the worst happens.
So you're saying that one should always be aware of job opportunities, just in case? I think I'll get on that
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Old 08-09-07, 02:54 AM   #13
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I'd keep the resume updated, and perhaps keep the job finding machinery still grinding. Who knows, you might be able to find something better with less drama, and if the future company asks why you left after 1.5 months, you could always state that the company was unstable, and had a hostile work environment.
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Old 08-09-07, 03:25 AM   #14
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When I was hired at my current workplace, my purpose and expectation was to spend much of my day inside the clean room (where all manufacturing takes place) maintaining machines, primarily preventative maintenance. Well, it never really took off that way...
I go in the clean room probably about once a week, and the production manager ends up maintaining everything. I never got much of an introduction to the clean room, and nobody has much time to show me the workings of the clean room.

What's ended up happening is that the engineers have been using me for other things instead. Basically our engineer dept. is swamped with projects, we are in way over our head and are one man short. So, they've been putting a lot of pressure on me to get things done for them. This might be paperwork, solidworks stuff, and most important; making stuff. I spend 75% of my day in the shop making replacement parts for the clean room, making prototype products, or making fixtures for production use.

Well today I overheard a conversation between the production manager and an engineer. Basically, the manager was saying she is getting frustrated with me and my lack of presence, lack of anything related to me being in the clean room. She said that she thinks if I want to stay employed, that I need to do my job, step up to my role, etc.

When something isn't working right in the clean room though, she will never tell me. If I ask, she says everything is fine. Instead she just finds her favorite engineer to fix whatever it is. When that engineer came back today from a 2 day seminar, she had a page long list of things that have not been working right for those 2 days. SHe could have told me, and I could have fixed that stuff very easily, if I had known of course.

The engineers are giving me positive feedback regarding what I do for them, so I know they're happy. I feel like I am being tugged in two directions right now. The engineers are putting more and more pressure on me, in the form of large projects with upcoming due dates. Yet all the while, this manager expects me to be in the clean room for a lot of time. I have a list of preventative maintenance procedures to follow, some of which is weekly, monthly, etc., which I do. BUt she wants more, she wants me to be in there doing every little thing it seems, EVERYTHING. A bolt on a table is loose, a battery needs replacement, they need a new sticker for something. I don't mind fixing things, but there is no way I can stand in there waiting for something to go wrong, AND meet my deadlines at the same time.

It's bothering me that I have two very different expectations. THis lady expected me to be in the clean room all day when I was hired, but the office expected me to be in there only a little bit, and help out with engineering tasks. How can I satisfy both parties?
Don't know exactly what kind of work you do, but maybe you could setup some kind of logging or fault reporting mechanism(if you haven't already) that anyone can enter information into, advising of anything that needs repair\service etc. You could maybe get everyone to agree to this process and use it going forward. That way you only need to check your reporting systems for any issues. Nothing reported nothing to fix.
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Old 08-09-07, 03:35 AM   #15
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Having multiple bosses sucks, been there, done that.

I would explain to the primary person that you report to that it is difficult if not near impossible to be at the beck and call of everyone in the plant. Explain how you feel it would be much more efficient in the long run for everyone to file their requests for services thru one person who delegates to you as they deem necessary.

This way you aren't the one who has to priortize the importance of clean room work over engineers work.
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Old 08-09-07, 05:53 AM   #16
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If the manager wants you in the clean room, she should tell you. Unless you're goofing off, she needs to be a manager and tell her workers what to do.
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Old 08-09-07, 08:21 AM   #17
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That company lacks proper management, and in my experience, you cannot possibly hope to fix that. It's a train wreck waiting to happen. A good rule to live by is that you cannot fix or beat the system, only **** it over. I think bad management is like horribly low wages, an instant reason to quit.
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Old 08-09-07, 08:34 AM   #18
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So you're saying that one should always be aware of job opportunities, just in case? I think I'll get on that
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Old 08-09-07, 08:57 AM   #19
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So you're saying that one should always be aware of job opportunities, just in case? I think I'll get on that
Always.


I was the facilities supervisor at an R&D lab for a few years. Supervisors had input from all dept. managers as part of our annual reviews. Even those managers whom we really had little or nothing to do with. It really irked me to have my performance determined by people who didn't know my job description or understand my workload, priorities, etc. In fact that's a large part of why I left there.
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Old 08-09-07, 12:15 PM   #20
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Do your title first....then the other stuff.

If your boss is not communicating effectively with you, then have a talk with her....ask her how you can find out all the information channels you would need to find this stuff out, what maintenance schedules there are, etc.

DO NOT let others who are not your boss push you around....it will be hard to say no, and they will more than likely resort to a heated confromtation with your boss over it....just stick to your guns and most importantly keep a cool head.

I went through this here at work....production was stealing my labor, and it was keeping me from advancing in Test, so they were simply told that I would not assist in production unless the line was properly staffed, or I had prior approval at the corporate level for this.

Since then they have improved staff by an infinite percentile (from no people on the floor to 3), but that's still 3 men short....so I won't assist without corporate approval. It really pisses them off, but well and oh well.
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Old 08-09-07, 06:59 PM   #21
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Well I spoke to my actual boss's today, the engineers. They liked the white board idea, but were afraid (justifiably so) so people were going to write stupid things on there. A lot of these employees are just helpless. The engineers hate me wasting my time on stupid stuff like changing a battery or leveling table. So there are going to be two boards:
Low priority
High priority

If somebody writes something dumb on high priority, I was told just to do it once. BUt past that, simply don't do it. That clean room is like kinder garden sometimes, and I hate to babysit. It sounds like I will have to do so a little bit though
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Old 08-09-07, 11:13 PM   #22
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I didn't see the discussion on the white board perusing through the comments, but it sounds like a good idea (or some form of task list). In order to have some oversight to keep responsibility for figuring out priority off of you I would suggest two things:

1.) Leave a space on the white board for anybody who assigns a task to leave their name. That shows who came up with it and gives you someone to report status to.

2.) Review the white board on a regular basis (either daily or weekly, whichever is more appropriate) with your actual boss for just a few quick minutes to make sure the priorities are appropriate.

What Catatonic said about maintenance schedules is a good point too. Since it sounds like your job description is maintenance, that would normally be your first priority. Keep on top of those duties. If your boss tells you to do something else, mention the other work so they're aware (bosses can't keep track of everything), then do what they tell you.

If somebody other than your boss tells you to do something that isn't a normal responsibility, tell them they need to check with your boss to see if you're available. This is a problem we've had at our work, where one engineer will "borrow" a mechanic from another engineer without checking with that engineer to see if it's acceptable to pull him away from a project. The mechanics really should be deferring them for anything that will interrupt their work for more than a couple minutes, but I think sometimes they're a little reluctant to correct an engineer.
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Old 08-09-07, 11:32 PM   #23
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You've received some very good advice from the postings here.

Gotta really find out who the real boss is.

Where I work - (not me - but another dept, there are many people who come out and want this done and that done by the two women at the front desk and then occasionally they hear themselves asked - why wasn't this done, my schedule is more important than theirs, etc - needed it yesterday, etc. It took one stubborn and frustrated woman to instead of saying I'm sorry, I'll get to it, etc -- to ask and acknowledge who she reports to and then to ask how to handle it when other people want her to do things ASAP, when she's working on a job for her boss.

Took a little bit - even a few departmental meetings - which basically ironed out a lot of logistics problems, and yes there are still some people who still have ASAP demands, but she basically says I should have some time here, perhaps there, but I have to clear this with XXX before I can schedule it.

Hope all this helps - sucks to be in the middle of something.
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Old 08-10-07, 06:51 AM   #24
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Well I should have mentioned...
SHe didn't hire me. She was not at the interview, only the engineers were. Right in the job description, it says "to report to engineers". But this lady is a manager, and does have influence.
When the sales guy (who is also one I report to when the engineers say so) asked me to do something and the production manager gave me some crap about not doing what she wants, he told me that she isn't really my boss.

I think I need to prove to her that I can actually fix stuff in there. What's been happening is that when somebody breaks down, she goes to see her favorite engineer, who goes and spends an hour fixing it. But then he is behind on his stuff, and consequently hands some of that stuff down to me. Meanwhile, each time something fails and she asks her favorite engineer for help, she gets madder and more upset with me for not being there....even though I have no way of knowing.
The head engineer was fired 2 weeks ago.
I hate to say it, but engineers and "business" managers rarely mix: a business person cannot possibly be on the same page as an engineer. Just look at any major American corporation: the engineers say "We need to build it this way..." and the manager responds "Ahhh, excellent, BUT!, we will build it that way" and so on and so fifth.

Best advice I can give you: follow what some of the others here have said and just stay on the good side of the engineers, and you should be ok.
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