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Peer Pressure on the Shop Floor by Dale Collie
One of the things I discovered when working on the shop floor
was that peer pressure was never to lift anyone up. It was never
to increase productivity. Always, it was to level the field of
effort at the lower end and reduce productivity - "don't do
anything that will help the company get ahead."
As a new employee I was pressured into joining a union that
required us to simply meet production quotas (which had been
reduced considerably from both an equipment and a personnel
standpoint), and then we were to sit down by our machine and
wait for the end of the shift... two hours later.
Even when I was assigned to clean up between the production
lines, I was told that I worked too hard. Slow down. If I get
all of the work done in one shift, it will make those guys on
the other shift look bad, and there will be no need to hire
another person to help with the work.
Years later, I discovered one of the primary reasons for this
attitude was that employees forget who they are working for -
all of these people thought they worked for the company. No one
understood that they worked for themselves. None of them
understood that they were independent contractors who contracted
to be with that company for so many hours a day, doing a certain
kind of work, for THEIR OWN BENEFIT.
My work in the former Soviet Union helped me to understand that
employees must do everything possible to help a company make
more and more profit. The profit is what makes the jobs secure,
not the slow downs.
Therefore, if I'm working for myself and my personal challenge
is to help the company make more profit, I'm pretty much immune
to peer pressure. First of all, there won't be many peers, and
second, any improvement I'm making is for my own benefit, not
for the company, the stockholders, or anyone else.
When I understand that I'm an independent contractor, I call the
shots. If I don't like something about management, I can make
known my complaint and then decide to stay or go somewhere
else. Good workers, good contractors are in high demand. Even
in the toughest of times, a good worker will have a contract of
If I've simply followed the "peer" pressure and given somewhat
less than my best, I don't have much for a resume. I don't have
anything to brag about when I seek a new job. On the contrary,
if I've done my best and can explain that to anyone and
everyone, I'll always be in demand, and I'll always have a
contract with some company.
That's some of what I learned about peer pressure on the shop
floor. Remember - It's never too late to be what you should have
been® (Dale Collie)
Copyright 2010 - Dale Collie
Dale Collie, author and professional speaker, named by Fast
Company as one of America’s Fast 50 innovative leaders.
Experience as Fortune 500 executive and business owner, US Army
Ranger and professor at West Point. His book Winning under Fire
(McGraw-Hill) is published in English, Chinese, and Russian.
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