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Thread: Us vs Them Advice?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2017
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    Austin, TX
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    Us vs Them Advice?

    Like most breweries (and most businesses) we've had a bit of a production vs office dissonance start occurring. We're having some very open and direct conversations about it and have some ideas. Has anyone here faced this before? Any successful - or failed - strategies that you would be willing to share?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Moab, Utah
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    544

    Some observations....

    Quote Originally Posted by 4thTapStecker View Post
    Like most breweries (and most businesses) we've had a bit of a production vs office dissonance start occurring. We're having some very open and direct conversations about it and have some ideas. Has anyone here faced this before? Any successful - or failed - strategies that you would be willing to share?
    First thing, you are in very deep waters and your post is vague.
    There must be ONE director of Operations who lays down the law for the entire gig. Someone has to be in charge and take charge.
    Brewing attracts some very Overstated and Unbalanced egos.
    The strong and weak points of the leader will be reflected all the way down into the operation, and whats not being addressed will become magnified and entrenched over time to create a predominate culture that resists change.
    You need to realize that because you are a wage slave in a reality where everything has been monetized that you cannot really " win."
    Not in real terms.
    Its about optimizing things in a system which is stacked against you from the beginning. That system is ruled over by forces that are larger than you that you do not understand.
    You then play the game to the best of your ability.
    A major lot of operations problems start with compartmentilization, and a failure to realize and address properly what is going on a ALL levels. The motive for profit is underlying this and this is an unnatural state for the human animal to be in.

    Star
    Warren Turner
    Industrial Engineering Technician
    HVACR-Electrical Systems Specialist
    Moab Brewery
    " No Cell Phone Zone."

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Conroe, Texas, USA
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    27
    I used to work at a brewery that had a major division between production and office/sales (I was in production). A few years after I started we were hitting capacity and getting ready to move into a new, larger facility. We moved to a 24-hour brewing cycle, which made the division much sharper. The production side felt that we were left out frequently from decisions that would affect us short term (can't talk to the manager if you work 6pm-6am), how to set up the new brewery, and from fun events meant to smooth over intra-company problems (I'm not going bowling at 9am if I went to sleep at 7am). It got pretty toxic, and after a year and half of running full tilt before moving into the new facility, the majority of our brewing staff quit within a few months of learning the new system.

    I would strongly recommend having some department and all-company meetings to address it. Let people know at the least the basics of what's happening in other departments. Make your office/sales staff train for a few days in production to see what it's like. Maybe send your production team on a sales ride along. Make sure people feel like they're being listened to, and that they can be open about their issues (i.e. a brewer may not want to say what they feel when "those people" are in the room). Make sure at least some of their grievances are addressed, or at least explained why it wouldn't work. If you're asked your opinion, and it's ignored and never addressed, then it's a bigger slap in the face than never being asked. Have some fun events every so often (bowling, sports game, brewery crawl) that fit what your staff would enjoy, and doesn't allow the cliques to just exist in a different place than the brewery. Incorporate something that makes people from different departments interact and get to know each other at least a little bit. It's harder to despise someone that you were on a bowling team with, or won the scavenger hunt with. The biggest thing to avoid in my opinion is to let it fester and resolve itself. You may convince yourself that problematic people churn themselves out, but that doesn't fix the root issue they were having, and the only benefit you'll receive is getting more experience hiring replacement workers.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Austin, TX
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    Quote Originally Posted by swright83 View Post
    If you're asked your opinion, and it's ignored and never addressed, then it's a bigger slap in the face than never being asked.
    Right there especially

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Location
    Denver, CO
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    Production staff (the best ones at least) care more about being able to claim ownership for their contributions than just having a pizza party or going bowling. Take a look through the book "The Great Game of Business" . It's got a lot of good ideas on how to improve moral, productivity, and team strength. It's got some scary ideas (ie. opening up the books) but they work. brewing is a passion industry but that really just means that it's WAY easier to get buy-in from staff with a solid system that rewards them. That type of stuff is how you get everyone onboard without having events that by necessity exclude some people due to timing or their prior commitments.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    The South
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    Good points made above with the other replies to your post. Brewing does have the unique factor of having a large portion of employees that work for “their passion” instead of large paychecks (because that rarely exists in this industry!). So that means the brewing industry has A LOT of BIG egos in it!!!

    Most have left high paying college/masters degree level non-brewing jobs in order to work for minimum wage in a brewery I have found. So an employees “emotions/feelings” is typically more important than to say “we are increasing your hourly wage by 50 cents.” Have regular meetings with your staff and truly listen to their ideas, complaints, process improvement suggestions and their frustrations. Then actually do something about what you learn from them and help work out problems. This type of Employee needs to be listened to and see that management hears them and utilizes their “thoughts and feelings” to help create a more “passionate and creative” workplace.

    With that being said, there has to be order, a chain of command and consequences when employees don’t follow rules and/or display disrespectful behaviors. This IS a business! If you have employees causing repetitive issues then they need to be written up or let go. You post their job and you will have a bunch of resumes of new potential employees within a day or two in this industry. Employees can and should be replaced if they continue to cause disruptive and negative issues in the workplace after being warned.

    Free beer doesn’t solve this problem...listening and connecting with the issues of your employees in order to find a healthy balance is the key if you want to create a more harmonious work environment.

    Or scrap all this fluff, be a slave driver like every other business and fire disobedient employees on the spot in front of everyone to see in order to start “setting examples”.
    Last edited by Catfish002; 06-08-2019 at 07:25 AM.

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