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Need advice on dealing with a horrible production supervisor

Need advice on dealing with a horrible production supervisor

Need advice on dealing with a horrible production supervisor


I"m a process engineer over a manufacturing cell that involves several robots and injection molding. I was the first person hired in the company for this project. The project is going good, and very smooth for a start up. About 9 months into it they hire a production supervisor on the recommendation of the plant manager. The guy is locked on, knows the injection press, which freed me up to work out bugs in our build cell. Turns out the Production supervisor is a snake in the grass, he was only patting me on the back to try to find a place to break it. I also found out he was fired from another job because he was cheating on his wife with one of his subordinates. He is also buddy buddy with our plant manager. He is only concerned about "numbers" he does not care if he makes bad parts. many times I have caught him running with error proofing turned off. I turn it back on and as soon as my back is turned the error proofing is off again. He is incredibly impatient, he is always wanting things done impossibly fast. He is the type where you tell him your 15 minutes away from work and he tells you you have 5 min to be there. He has zero respect for the equipment. He crashed a robot the other day and bent an end of arm tool, he lied about it, then acted like nothing was wrong. When according to the security camera footage he was the one holding the controller when it crashed. He also changes stuff I do, I will submit a work order and he will talk to maintenance and have it altered without telling me

The good news: I have had great year end reviews, maximum raise, etc. i am considered a "superstar" engineer, and one of the best robot programmers in the building. Boss told me I am being recommended for the company management school (this could be a lie, I don't know yet) I am the first person hired for this new process and the one in the company with the most experience period. The company is setting up another build cell for this process and I am needed to set it up. I guess i"m saying it would be a dumb move to fire me.

Bad news: this guy is out politicking me - he is buddy buddy with plant manager - I don't know what to do

RE: Need advice on dealing with a horrible production supervisor

Buy the book ," How to work for an idiot", and read it. Then document everything that goes on ,names places people. If you can do it without getting fired, try to retain a copy of the incriminating video footage of him damaging equipment ,then covering up the fact. If you write work orders, get the recipient to sign a receipt for the work order, use AVO's with triple copies. This guy will eventually hang himself , however you may be in for a rough ride along the way.

You are judged not by what you know, but by what you can do.

RE: Need advice on dealing with a horrible production supervisor

Couple of questions to ask yourself:

Do you reckon he's got it in for you personally - or is he just a general loose cannon?

How's everybody else in the cell reacting?

What's the industry like in general - does everybody know everybody else, with individual reputations known far and wide, or is it a big pond full of anonymous fish?


RE: Need advice on dealing with a horrible production supervisor

The truth is, people like that guy simply shouldn't be employed by any company. Unfortunately, on many occasions, politics or skills or something else comes before personality, culture, attitude. That is a real pity, but I believe new, young companies are avoiding to hire such mental carnivores by all means. And that is a great news.

In my earlier days I thought it is a waste of time to fight against such characters, but I was wrong. I was very wrong. They tend to poison and contaminate the entire work environment, people relations, everything. They are real cannibals, and would not hesitate to do anything to protect and/or promote themselves (example of crashing the robot and then lying about it). Such people should not be let to exist in the work environment, let alone to supervise others. If you manage to get this arse fired and have him think deeply about his life and his personality, you would do a great thing for the world.

The problem is, that decent people are ashamed even just to think about things that these guys are so easily ready to do.

Process Engineer, MSChE

RE: Need advice on dealing with a horrible production supervisor

Thank you all for the advice. Here is some more information and answers to questions asked:

He MAY have it in for me personally, if he was told behind closed doors that he is up for management school as well, I would be direct competition. I could also see how he would be jealous of me: I live the single life, have two houses, lots of man-toys, great public speaker, people like me etc. etc.

Quality and other salaried types are starting to see through his bullshit, his hourly employees are scared to cross him, and seem like they are in on some sort of inner joke or some secret. I suspect that they are all smoking weed together. Anyhow, good thing I"m an intimidating guy, because I called his line leader out on the robot crash and got my answer. I could tell everyone got there story straight, line lead gave me the same canned answer that the supervisor gave me, until I put the screws to him and informed the line leader I watched it all on security camera footage. The line lead (good kid, just don't know any better) finally told me the supervisor crashed the robot, then said he shouldn't be in trouble and added that neither should the supervisor. I told him to be careful before they break something more important than the EOAT.

I really get the feeling he is crowding me out, ie technically the process and equipment are the responsibility of the process engineer (me). But you talk to him and it's "his" build cell, until there is a problem then i get a phone call saying "why are YOUR robots not working and holding up production." When something doesn't work it's because "you cannot trust engineering" I usually respond by informing him his people haven't cleaned up according to protocol, and things don't work when dirty.

When I was younger we had this dog, the dog would crawl in bed with me acting all affectionate, and proceed to sleep on the bed between me and the wall. During the middle of the night I would wake up to the dog slowly pushing me off the bed by stretching out his legs which were planted firmly against the wall. The dog didn't care about me, he just wanted the warm bed to himself, I get the same impression from this guy. he acts nice then crowds you out.

More info: we report to the same boss, that boss has been super busy on other projects and is now on vacation. Supervisor seems to want to keep his people guilt-free he will not sign work instructions without arm twisting, it took him three weeks to sign one set. The guy is a super pita.

RE: Need advice on dealing with a horrible production supervisor

if it was my start-up, i'd be very appreciative of someone with care and courage enough to tell me the truth that my organization had made a hire that was damaging equipment, falsifying data and harming morale.

RE: Need advice on dealing with a horrible production supervisor

Given the description of the atmosphere at your plant, it is not going to be long before people start quitting. If his employees are scared of crossing him, they will quit before confronting him. You need to be extremely careful that if they do depart, you do not get the blame for it. This type has a tendency for not taking any personal blame. I have worked for people like this, and it very often takes a while before they trip themselves up.
Be very careful if the guy is a real friend of the manager and not just sucking up to him ( that is what these people do.). I have a company near me who has a supervisor who is about like your guy who the owner will not fire, " Because he is my friend." even though this guy costs the company hundreds of thousands of dollars in missed deadlines and spoiled work.

You are judged not by what you know, but by what you can do.

RE: Need advice on dealing with a horrible production supervisor

We had a production manager in charge of our manufacturing operation who was hired by our former president. Over five years, one by one, our senior staff- including founders of the company- went to the president to attempt to have this guy's extreme behaviour dealt with. Regrettably, our former president felt that it was more important to shelter one of his personal hires, apparently in order to avoid appearing to have made a hiring error, than it was to listen to the people responsible for actually getting work out of our shop.

It took five years, but eventually we did get the paperwork to demonstrate he'd been stealing from us- something many of us had suspected, but that wasn't the only thing wrong with this guy for sure. That only happened as a result of the high integrity of one of the people reporting to the PM, who was asked to sign for something we never received. Fifteen years later, we still celebrate the PM's departure at the end of a boot- it was a turning point at the company for myself and many of my colleagues, because it was the end of an extremely worrisome tendency in our management which we knew must extend to other things we might not even be aware of. Fortunately we are also rid of the source of the problem, i.e. our former president. He ultimately exited at the end of a boot too, though he was allowed the dignity of pretending it was a retirement.

Document, be professional, report, and be patient- things take time. But if nothing is done, you have to decide whether or not to keep working there in that case. Chances are, if this stuff is tolerated, it's a bad sign about other things you may not even be aware of, but which can ultimately affect you either way.

RE: Need advice on dealing with a horrible production supervisor

"Hey Boss, I know Thatguy is your friend, seems like a nice guy (THIS CAN BE A LIE) but I'm having some issues working with him (mention security footage of crash as an example, do not mention the lying about it*.) Do you want to know about this stuff, or should I just keep it to myself and keep trying to do my job the best I can?"

* If the boss is smart, he will look into the footage, then ask Thaguy about the incident. Thatguy will like to his "friend's" face and the boss will keep a closer eye on things.

RE: Need advice on dealing with a horrible production supervisor

Assuming you have overwhelming evidence that this guy is bad news for the company, there are times when a "it's either him or me" ultimatum to the boss is the best solution. If I were a betting man, my money would be on the boss being more loyal to his own company (dollars) than some Johnny-come-lately who is potentially overturning the applecart.

It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.

RE: Need advice on dealing with a horrible production supervisor

Document, yes. But sometimes even that doesn't work in some cases. I could tell you stories...

If the NoodleHead is creating a hostile work environment of some sort (look up the terms, circumstance, and the sins) then you can maybe use the HR Weasels to your advantage. Make sure your documentation & witnesses back up your claims. Claiming "hostile work environment" or "harassment" or any of the other Kryptonite Key Words usually makes the HR Weasels spring to action. It worked for me quite well once.

Blue Technik LLC
Virtuoso Robotics Engineering

RE: Need advice on dealing with a horrible production supervisor

...and while doing all this, don't fall into the trap of laying yourself open to accusations of harassment (if the guy is as politically adept as you say, he'll be wise to that one).


RE: Need advice on dealing with a horrible production supervisor

You may find yourself in a no-win situation. If this guy is tight with the plant manager, then the plant manager will very likely side with him no matter what you say or what evidence you provide to support your position. And if you are insistent, they will likely find an excuse to unload you at the very first opportunity because you will no longer be viewed by management as a "team player". And your adversary will be more than happy to promote that point of view among the management ranks. People like the one you describe are a cancer on an otherwise healthy workforce. I had the displeasure of working for such an individual once. Never again.


RE: Need advice on dealing with a horrible production supervisor

I think most of the solution lies within you and yourself.

I would not cultivate the illusion that management will take any action; if this guy has good connection with the big manager in my opinion its end of story. If you bring this issue to management you will only aggravate things and it will drain your energy on the long run. The robot crash thing is something condemnable but don't try to exploit this ; just report the facts and evidence in hand - the rest is not up to you.

1/ You may be working right now in a toxic environment, but if this is the case this is not to be taken easily, what I mean toxic business is a serious thing and eventually requires proper handling when it comes to what is next step.

Or 2/ you simply have to develop coping skills. Guess staying in engineering business has a price to pay and has also reward. You need to have enough strength to literally "ignore" people like the one you described. If you see something impacting business in negative manner, like asset damage, threat to safety, etc. report it and then back off.

You could be insulted, threatened, harassed, you could come across the worst idiot in the universe or most stupid things ever done and still remain stoic and have the inner capability not be affected personally ; well a little yes but not to the level you seem to be in. If it does affect you, you are the only one to lose the plot.

oh by the way... Not lecturing you, just trying to help by bringing some critical thinking over the issue.

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