Goal: Understand the dynamics, complexities and value that go into creating an enjoyable and fund team, and how to create such an environment
This summer, I had the wonderful opportunity to serve as a Production Supervisor intern with Hormel Foods in Austin, MN. After the period of orientation, I was given the responsibility over being the direct supervisor for six team members, indirectly supervise 35 persons, and handle payroll for 85 employees. Aside from the actual experience of learning the technical aspect of the job, much of my responsibility was to build a cohesive team that is willing to work together and achieve record production. With the guidance from my direct report, I focused on the “personal” aspect and valued every employee’s thoughts and opinion.
Being immersed in an unfamiliar setting, with all new faces and new processes, I was a bit overwhelmed when starting. Even as I was feeling this way, I made sure that it was clear what I understood and asked questions when I didn’t know. Through this engagement period and the weeks of asking questions, I started to understand the dynamics of the management team and of the plant employees. Before making any changes, I always consulted with the line-workers and asked for their input. Quite honestly, they are the most valuable asset to a well-running operation, as they are doing their job all day and can notice even the smallest details. During this period, I made sure to always use humor and ask about their personal lives.
Valuing their opinions, personal lives, and joking a lot helped built a welcoming community. Ultimately, even with daunting tasks, we could all depend on each other. Although I was of higher “status” and was making the formal calls, breaking down the traditional chain of command is what I believe the reason that I was successful and the team was able to achieve high results. When returning as a full-time production supervisor, I will continue this method as it helped create a fun, hardworking atmosphere.