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Motivate Your Press Operator With Incentives

Incentives, bonuses, and pay for performance programs are not the most popular concepts in the modern press room of today.  It is a general assumption that the sophisticated management of today can achieve productivity and quality without bonuses.  In some cases this is true; many are successful.  It has been my experience that nothing drives a crew like a dollar.  I remember as a pressman, that I webbed up a press ten times in an hour because I had a good bonus we going.  An unmotivated crew could have done this twice at most.

The Orlando Sentinel implemented an incentive program and raised productivity, cut waste, and improved quality in an already successful plant.  One significant improvement: 500 rolls without a web break.  That's an incredible achievement!

Even Mickey Mouse incentives have an effect.  Recognize high runs with awards.  Give promotional gifts for outstanding work. Take crews to lunch.  Give cash bonuses.  Get them captains hats.  All of these actions pay off in higher morale and closer relationships with management.  Almost any incentive program is better than none.  Importantly, go first class and recognize performance along with awards.

There is another option in the area of incentives.  That is the utilization of pride.  Pride is one of the most potent drives in a printers psyche.  Let me give you a true graphic example of how this can work.

We had twelve presses in one line.  Each press had four packer girls whose job it was to jog signatures and pile stacks on the load.  Load quality slowly drifted from bad to worse to awful to horrible.  Loads were falling apart in the aisle.  Normal disciplinary action, basically chewing them out, didn't work at all.  Loads were still awful.

One day I spotted a particularly horrible load being trucked down the aisle.  In instructed the forklift driver to park the load in front of the Coke machine and put a large sign on the load - JOGGED BY MABEL.

Within minutes Mabel stormed into my office and screamed bloody murder that I was insulting her.  After a couple of hours, I moved the load away.  Load quality improved immediately across the entire room.  I then spotted a particularly fine load being moved.  I repeated the process saying - MARY PILED THIS LOAD.  That was the kissoff.  From that point, the loads were all superb and the honor load was a normal action.  The girls competed for the honor of display.  That's pride in it's purest form.  Probably, I could have spared Mabel the initial embarrassment of going to the fine load display first, but I wasn't that smart then.  I would probably do it differently today.

That brings us back to the press in terms of quality, productivity, delays and waste.  All of these factors can be impacted with pride.  Nobody wants to be the dog of the department.  Here again, peer pressure is the prime ally of the manager.  This, however, requires an awareness of performance by the manager.  In some press rooms I have called on, performance yardsticks are not yet available.  The burden rightfully falls on management.  Some system of measurement must be developed.  Again, this sounds like a totally cornball suggestion, but based on personal observation in companies both big and small, awareness of performance is not a given.

by Frank Drazan

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