The Best and Worst Part of My Job
One of the best things about my job is from time to time I get to work with some fantastic young people who have a passion for the Maintenance and Reliability business and have made the decision to pursue a career in this business. I really enjoy being a mentor, guiding the ambitious and offering advice on where to find information, articles and real, workable solutions.
As I offer this guidance I can’t help but look back on my own career, starting as an Apprentice Pipefitter, working as a Journeyman, Team Leader and Supervisor. Coming to the realization that only those who take the time to understand the process of how their products are made will then be able to develop a maintenance plan the ensures equipment and process reliability. I think of those who were my mentors, people who took the time from their work to teach me how to build a business case for improvement while at the same time being excited to celebrate the improvements we made.
Combine the thirst to continue to learn, to grow, to take on bigger challenges and bask in the recognition that came each new achievement with the help and experience of my mentors and I was convinced me that the company I worked for actually cared about me as a person.
Then I learned the truth. And this brings me to the part of my job I hate the most. That’s the day I get the phone call or e-mail from someone I have been mentoring on the day they recognize this same truth.
The reality is to most companies today we are all just a number. It all comes down to money. Does the service you provide or the products you support provide a positive cash flow to the company? Can we bill more for that service or those products than we pay you? While you consider these questions, please don’t forget to take into consideration your benefits. We want you to understand the cuts we are about to make are not personal, it’s just business.
Welcome to the real world!
As a mentor, you hope the day of realization comes at a time when you can talk to this person who looks for and respects your advice face to face because while we live in a world of emoji’s, real smiles and real concern can are best served live.
While I know typing out the following fact won’t seem genuine, today it’s your only choice.
“Your company is no different than 95% of the other companies in the world, I could have told you that the day we first met but I knew it would completely douse the fire you had burning. I knew you would learn this on your own one day and I want you to know it doesn’t change a damn thing.”
This would be better said over coffee, lunch or better yet a beer where one can smile, share their own story of realization. When someone you care about is hurting however you type away and hope they have time to respond.
So let me tell you again my friend, “Welcome to the real world! The fact that the company you work for doesn’t care at all about you or your family, where you live, the car you drive, how much vacation you have or what you have to pay for health insurance has nothing to do with how well you perform your job.
You see those of us who are motivated to continuously improve how we do our job as well as the processes we work with will continue to do so regardless of who we work for or where we work. The latter two, the who and where, are simply impediments or motivators. Impediments can either slow progress or be seen and used as a motivator for change.
I’m again hoping that this meeting is face to face as at this moment I can see the body language begin to change. The hands are no longer balled in a fist, the jaw is no longer clenched and the shoulders have begun to drop. It’s time for some good news.
The good news is this will never happen to you again. You will never be surprised to find out that while you haven’t changed; certain business conditions or even people have. The company and people who told you that they were successful because they cared about their employees has simply fallen into the trap that money means more than people and you will see it coming from a mile away.
And when you see that train before almost anyone else does, you will smile because for those of us driven by success, the people who actually live continuous improvement; it doesn’t change who we are.
The best part of my job comes when I see that familiar smiling face someplace new and I can see the excitement of the new journey in the eyes of a friend.