Contenders or Pretenders?

Both Leaders and Followers Need to Cultivate Their Skills to Create a Successful Process Automation Environment

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Six Commandments for Subordinates

There are eleven long commandments for process automation managers, but only six short ones for their subordinates. These are courtesy of Darren Pillay, an MES consultant with Sasol Technology. Johannesburg, South Africa.

  1. You shall understand your job role. Understanding exactly what is required of you is necessary, so you can balance and prioritize your work. Knowing your job role ensures your most important work packages are completed on time and within spec.
  2. You shall know the technical aspects of your job so you can be independent when making critical process decisions. Expertise instills confidence in management, so they won’t have a problem allowing you a certain level of freedom.
  3. You shall have initiative. Employees working closest to the actual process are most equipped to suggest or make incremental improvements.
  4. You shall be motivated. Be willing to go beyond basic requirements. This allows you to add value above what is required. 
  5. You shall act for the greater good of the organization. It is all too easy to be content with meeting targets. The real value added to an organization occurs when you push the envelope on performance in a quest to extract every last ounce out of a process.
  6. You shall question current structures. Employees often become set in a way of thought and a particular manner of doing things. Not questioning why things are done or how they can be improved just leads to a mediocre status quo.

Integrators Do It Differently

Most of this article looks at management from a process end-user point of view, but the engineering firms and system integrators that serve process end users have a slightly different take. Their management roles can be even more challenging than end users’, as many must deal with relatively large groups of employees and simultaneously serve two masters: their own company and their clients.

“Managers must be able to bid accurately, properly set up a project, identify changes of scope, make proper delegation based on resource capability, perform proper mentoring and have good hiring intuition,” says Bob Zeigenfuse, the CEO/president of Advanced Automation.

“Too many managers don’t mentor and then delegate. They feel that by the time they do this properly, they could have done the work themselves. They also hire for technical skills to hit the ground running, when they should be hiring for aptitude and attitude,” adds Zeigenfuse.

“Bosses need to have training in personality traits, delegation and mentoring. They must communicate strategic, operational, performance and career goals quarterly to all subordinates; and they must have a reward system for performance based on these goals,” concludes Zeigenfuse.

A second system integrator lists desired subordinate behaviors. “Subordinates must be adaptable so that they can switch between different kinds of projects,” comments Jim Ford, the director of advanced automation solutions at Maverick Technologies. “Attention to detail is critical because it can mean the difference between a high-quality deliverable and a failed project due to a serious technical error,” continues Ford.

“Subordinates must maintain skills and should seek out additional training and courses on their own. Good employees work well with others, but are also willing to work independently. Finally, subordinates should not be afraid to admit they don’t know how to do something—and they should learn from their mistakes,” sums up Ford.

David Bishop, the president of Matrix Technologies believes, “Managers and those who work for them must respect each other’s thoughts and opinions. “Respect and trust allow a healthy exchange of ideas and thoughts to ensure the best solution can be applied in any situation. Reviews are an essential part of relationship improvement. If the employee knows that the manager is interested enough to help the employee improve, the relationship is greatly enhanced. These reviews can be the formal or informal, but they must take place on a regular basis.”

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