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Paid to think?

I have always had mixed feelings about my employees thinking on their own.

Typical scenario:

"Why did you do that?"

"Well, I thought …"

"You thought? Who asked you to think? Did I ask you to think? I don't want you to think. I want you to cut up that wood. And I want you to cut it up the way I told you to cut it up. Period. When I want you to think, I'll tell you."

On the other hand, there have been many times when I had to be out of the shop for one reason or another and when I got back, little work had been done. I would be told that there was a decision to be made and the employee did not feel competent to make the call.

One of my all-time favorite employees was a guy who was willing to take a risk and make the call. He once told me that he would just imagine what I would say if the question was posed and then go with that. Nine times out of ten, he would get it right and the work would be done or at least enough progress would be made that I felt like the guys had not just been sitting on their hands all day.


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