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How To Hire And Hold A Pressman

In many pressrooms today the major problem is not the usual ones of productivity, waste, or quality.  The major problem is manning the presses.  Joggers seem to be arriving and leaving as if there were a revolving door into and out of the pressroom.  One plant in Connecticut recently paid moving expenses for joggers from Wisconsin.  Even that did not work.  High wages have not been too successful either.  So what can a reasonable plant manager do to stem this parade of frustration?  Here are several directions that a manager can take to resolve his problem.
"You just might find that career pressman."

First, the basic concept of viewing the new hire as a temporary must be changed.  When you consider that almost all of your skilled craftsmen were hired originally as joggers, you should regard each new hire as a potential pressman.  The hiring interview should be an in depth discussion of the opportunities and challenges of the job and the future that this entry level opens up.  Point out all of the craftsmen who also started at this level.  Feed the ambitions of each new hire.  That is the basic objective of the kickoff interview.

Second, provide good information as follows:

A.  Good job descriptions.

B.  Provide an understanding of the plant managerial structure.
  • Who is the boss
  • The chain of command
  • Where he fits in
C.  Explain career potentials.

D.  Explain his or her expected learning curves.
  • Immediate required skills
  • Short range objectives
  • Long range objectives
E.  Explain monetary progressions
  • Raise schedules
F.  Explain the job in progress.

G.  Very important, solicit questions and respond to them

Third, provide good initial crew integreation.

A.  A good introduction to the crew.  Do not just limit introductions to the other joggers.
B.  Explain the job in progress.
C.  Give specific instructions.

Fourth, excellent manager follow-up.

A.  The plant manager should pass out the pay checks each week and chat with each employee.  Keep in touch with a simple, "How's it going" type of a question that can be a source of really valuable feedback on problems that may be overlooked otherwise.
B.  Check the new employee's progress by talking to the pressman.

Fifth, hold periodic crew meetings.  Get them talking to each other.

Finally, fire the really bad performers.

As you can see, what I am suggesting is not an easy solution, nor is it any great shakes as a revelation.  All I am suggesting is a return to good basic management, with good personal involvement in each and every employee every step of the way.  If you want to hold them and mold them you must respond to their needs.  Remove their fears and plant seeds of ambition and you just might find that career pressman.


By Frank Drazan

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