Imagine working in a huge factory for years and not know what the thousands of components you’ve been making during that time actually do in the grand scheme of things. How do they all fit together and what is the end result?
As a young fitter/turner apprentice working in a large machine shop, I asked myself that same question - not necessarily to understand the meaning of life, but more about my role on the production line.
I once read Peter Currell Brown’s novel, Smallcreep’s Day which related the story about modern industrial life. The central character - having worked for many years in a labyrinthine factory - became curious about the purpose of his role on the production line and decided to find the meaning to his existence.
Reflecting 1970s industrial relations, had my company bothered to show me the result of all my labours, and allowed me to visit a customers’ facility to see what I made ‘in situ’, then I’d have gained a better appreciation of my role and taken more pride in my job.
Ultimately, every individual in a team is key, but they can’t always succeed without strategy and direction. A healthy appreciation of what the business does can help guide strategy because often, some good basic common sense might be the solution.
Businesses pride themselves on building long-lasting relationships with their clients. So, why not create an even bigger sense of purpose in an employee’s role by showing them that there is more to it than simply working in a line?
My personal experience would indicate that the way for businesses to really create some excitement in a prospective production worker’s role is to complete the circle: show them the finished article first and then work back to the component level.