Plight of the Production Team

This summer at a training program for leaders of the Cristo Rey schools we did an exercise in which we were divided into two groups – the management team and the production team.  The groups were asked to solve a problem, and I happened to be on the management team.  Working on our own, the management team fared poorly. So poorly, in fact, we couldn’t even finish the project assigned to us!

What happened? We waited too long to consult with the production team, the people who were going to do the work.

The training program gave me a lot to think about as the head of a school with staff in so many different areas. I need to keep in close contact with my different production teams, including teachers, office administrators, and even our student workers, making sure each group has the resources they need.

The feedback I received helped form this year’s Foundations training. Teachers and administrators came together to bring a fresh approach to transitioning freshmen from the 8th grade students they were just a few short months ago into the confident and capable young men and women who are ready to excel in the workplace. This detailed approach to forming both hard and soft skills, as well as the Microsoft Office training from the incredible staff of CompuWorks, resulted in our latest grade of student workers, a group far more prepared to enter the working world than the average teenager.

The production team exercise had clear applications for our program, but I’ve been thinking about it from another point of view recently.  During the past week I’ve been in three places where our students worked last year, and a supervisor, a front desk manager, and an operations person came to me and said “we need more student workers.  We can’t keep up with the work in our department.”  I asked these folks if they talked to management, and each asked if I would on their behalf!  Now, of course, I’m more than happy to do this, but the interactions brought me right back to the production team exercise.

Many times well-meaning senior managers in businesses, including good friends of mine, fail to consult the production people. So, I’m going to ask my friends to do me a favor. Spend a few minutes talking to the people in the copy center or the mailroom or the front desk. Ask them if they are able to get all their work done. If not, let’s talk about whether well-trained student workers can help make your company more effective and efficient.

There are a lot of production teams with work that needs to be done in corporate Boston, and we want to help you do it.


Jeff Thielman

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