The Real Role of First Line Management

“Volume is lower, but you are further behind, shipping late, back-ordering and allowing stock outs. You have a veteran crew and the same manager. The biggest difference is that you are working without two supervisors. Is that about it?” I verified.

“You got it,” Edgar nodded.

“So, what were the two supervisors doing that seems to make all the difference?”

“You know, supervising. Helping a technician who didn’t quite know what to do. Fixing a broken machine. Covering for someone on vacation. That’s why we figured we could do without them. I mean, we still have a machinist who can fix machines when they go down.”

“So, who schedules the technicians to work the production shifts?”

“We just put everyone on a regular rotation to work their hours during the week to cover one full shift and a swing shift. That way, no one has to really schedule the technicians.”

“So, you always have the right technicians scheduled to do the right production work?”

Edgar stopped. His eyes fluttered, but still no response.

“And who makes sure you have the right raw materials before each production run? Who checks to make sure an order is pulled from finished goods instead of making a production run to cover? Who is making sure machines are maintained on a PM schedule so they get pulled down only when they are idle?”

Edgar was still silent. “No one is doing any of that, anymore,” he finally replied.

“Edgar, there is a very specific role, this first line management stuff. It is between a production role and a systems role. To make sure production gets done, on time, to spec, working our strategic constraint. Many companies don’t see it, or don’t define it effectively. And that’s why, the harder you work, the behinder you get.”

One thought on “The Real Role of First Line Management

  1. Gordon Green

    Excellent – I was looking forward to seeing where this would end! It is so easy to think that everyone on the floor knows what they are doing and that the supervisor is perhaps an unnecessary expense. I have found that the supervisor is the glue that ties it all together – Engineering, Materials and Production.


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