Captain Unreliability (1)

Advice on automation, succession, and heroism at your facility

May 13, 2022
What does Rick Astley have to do with effective leadership? Read on to find out!

This month we bring you a selection of The Captain’s best advice from the several recent columns.

On automation

Automation is sexy, fun to talk about, and cool to have in a facility. The great thing is that the country is sold on having automation and thinks that there are these huge benefits to having it.

The fact that you can have a robot replace people is great. No more drama of having to deal with people. No need to worry about the lack of skills, people calling in sick, and no ideologies to deal with.

The greatest benefit of all is the cost. Think about it: replace 20 headcount by automating the back end of your facility, which will save you $1 million a year in labor. The cost of automating the back end of your facility is $10 million, and that’s a 10-year return on investment—a great project by any stretch of the imagination.

Then, you can raise the cost of your product because you overspent to look cool, leading to less volumes, and ultimately either shutting your doors or shipping the jobs overseas to produce it at a lower cost. What is not to like about that?

On succession planning

Always hire someone more incompetent than you to develop for your replacement. I know that this will be hard given your own incompetence, but the great news is that there is always someone out there more incompetent than you.

Also, you could just hire a college kid. Synchronized swimming as a major is the perfect fit for the organization. Or, forget the qualifications, hire based on identity. Seems to be the most popular trend at this time, so why not take advantage of it?

There are several advantages for both employers and employees to having a formalized succession plan in place: Employees know that there is a “chance for advancement” which can lead to more empowerment and higher job satisfaction. Knowing that most companies hardly promote from within, this is a great way to take the next imbecile, give them hope, and severely disappoint him or her when the promotion does not come his or her way.

Okay, really there are not any benefits to the organization, but there are benefits for you. It will make you look good in your own eyes! Also, it will make you look smart, because you are using big words like “succession planning” and can constantly bring up how your succession plan is coming to fruition and are looking forward to the day you depart from the company.

On ways to be a hero

  • The grass is always greener. Remember that.
  • Be a high-profile, flashy leader. It’s way more fun.
  • Self-promotion is always key.
  • Guard information. They are coming for you.
  • Leadership is all about position. You can’t influence without it.
  • Define a win in terms of getting you a promotion.
  • Personal success above team, always.
  • If it’s not your vision, critique it until it is yours.
  • People follow leaders because of authority, not competence. There is hope for you.
  • Things Rick Astley will never do: Give you up, let you down, run around, desert you, make you cry, say goodbye, tell a lie, hurt you. Don’t be Rick Astley.

This story originally appeared in the May 2022 issue of Plant Services. Subscribe to Plant Services here.

About the Author: The Captain

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