How does the process of interacting with the workers in the
decision process make your job different?
It makes it different because…you have eighteen to twenty different
opinions of how something should be done so you have to work
with each person--or you work with a group and you come to what
we call a consensus… therefore our decisions take a long time
Do you think this is something that all engineers should do?
No, everyone's not cut out to work in this type of environment.
The reason I say that is because engineer, techno-nerds, not
anything against engineers--I'm one--we tend to like 'the known.'
We like to be definitive, we like to get things done. Here there
is a lag-time in getting things done. You really have to work
at persuading people to buy into your ideas and you have to
approach it in the right way that it's not seeming like you're
throwing something on someone…
What's the right way to approach someone?
…Let's take for instance if you're going to increase the line
speed then you have to tell people why you're going to increase
the line speed and why you want to divide the work the way you're
going to divide it. Say you might want to change some work from
one station to another, or you might want to add some work to
a station and most of the time that's not comfortable when you
add people to their station. You take things away from their
stations so you have to go to them with data showing them how
this will impact the line, how this would improve the efficiency
and that way I think people react more to data than you just
going and say, Okay, we're going to change this and not having
any data behind that.
Is that a difficult part of your job?
It's a little tough because what happens, or what's happening
now--we're a new company and we have new employees and this
is new for everybody. It's new for salaried employees, it's
new for the hourly employees and we're learning, we're learning
as we go.
What's the difference between an hourly and salaried employee
In the partnership here at Harley we are supposed to be all
working together for the same common goals and there is no difference
between how an hourly person is treated versus what a salaried
person is treated and that's the way we operate. However, there
are times when an hourly person and a salaried person--sometimes
me as a salaried person I feel that I have no rights. And that's
just my opinion... It feels like the hourly are more listened
to than I am as a salaried person and I feel that I don't get
the same type of opportunities, if you will, that the hourly
employees do get.
What advice would you give to an engineer about to take up the
same work style as Harley has?
My precursor would be: Be willing to listen, be open to the
suggestions, be able to work with people--any type of person
that there might be. Anywhere from the plant manager to our
assembly line workers. Everybody's treated the same so you have
to look at everybody the same, and be willing to listen and
to take feedback and to take input because that's one of the
ways we operate.