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A foreman is normally a worker who has come up through the ranks to the lowest level of management. He is the bridge between management and the workforce, responsible for the day to day work output of his crew. Because the foreman is often plucked from the ranks it means he has to overcome the natural tendency to think of himself as "one of the gang" and to begin to represent the company to all the people under him. A good foreman treats his new responsibility with respect and care, learning as much as he can about being a boss.
Know the job and how to do it better than almost anyone else. You're the one that workers look to to have the answer when they have a problem with a machine, tool, or understanding of the process. If you don't have the right answer then you'll rapidly lose respect from the crew.
Be fair. Don't play favorites, or allow your past relationships with any workers to influence your decisions to the detriment of others.
Build a team that understands how to work together. Provide support for the weak areas to ensure they don't hamper production, and give the workers the freedom to move ahead in their strong areas.
Know who your workers are. Know what motivates them and what discourages them. Know how they are doing at home and how the kids are doing in school. If your crew knows that you think of them as more than just drones working eight hours a day for a company, they will do what is necessary when you need them to step up.
Be consistent. Don't say one thing one time and something completely different another.
Trust your crew. If you don't trust them they will never trust you.
Protect your workers and move heaven and earth if you need to to see that they get what they need, are treated fairly by those above you, and come to no undue harm. Your crew is your responsibility.
Communicate up, down and horizontally. Keep everyone abreast of what is happening and the concerns that are important. Respect confidences and sensitive information.
Build a working relationship with your peers if there are other foremen in the company. Provide them with what they need to make their job successful and depend upon them for what you need.
Jack Burton started writing professionally in 1980 with articles in "Word from Jerusalem," "ICEJ Daily News" and Tagalong Garden News. He has managed radio stations, TV studios and newspapers, and was the chief fundraiser for Taltree Arboretum. Burton holds a B.S. in broadcasting from John Brown University. He is a 26-year veteran of the U.S. Navy/Navy Reserves and the Navy Seabees.