Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Working Style

People have very different ways to work, and this is mine:

When going to college, I had to earn my living. I worked for some time in a bicycle shop as a mechanic, and I had to pedal 12 mile on a bike each morning to get there - and 12 miles back later.
We built bikes from scratch, custom made or custom mounted, and I did everything except soldering: tapping, furnishing with spokes, assembling, calibrating and testing.The garage had a metal roof, concrete floor and just an old oven for 2000 squarefeet to warm up in winter. It was fun, especially in spring and fall when there was no immediate danger of a heat stroke or freezing my toes off.

One day, I was working peacefully in my spot as my boss approached me and told me he would have to cut my pay if I would not be able to increase my working speed. I was very surprised as I could see my output compared to others, and it seemed more than ok. He got a bit into detail, told me I was not moving fast enough, stopping sometimes, and even sitting down for a moment while working on a lower bike part. You just don't do that in a garage.

So, I told him that my impression was very different, and I was actually much faster than others. Soon he offered me a small contest: He, being the main mechanic and owner of the store, would build a similar bicyle at the same time as me, and he would show me how much faster that could be done.

(Warm memories coming back right now :-)

We started. And he was going back and forth, doing things, grabbing parts, greasing, attaching them, and so on. I, on the other hand, read my list of parts, collected everything, unpacked, cleaned and prepared the parts, decided on an assemby order to attach them and then began to build the bicycle. I am sure it looked very slow. About 1 hour 45 minutes later I was done. I had a small coffee break to worm up my fingers, couldn't move them for the cold by that time), and then went back to work on a different bike.

2 hours and 30 minutes after we started, 45 minutes after me, my very surprised boss was done as well. We had a nice chat and (we are talking about an EXCELLENT boss here) I ended up not having a lower rate per hour but earning a bit more than before.

I kept on working hard and fast and planning and thinking tasks through first, and my boss and I were pretty happy with the outcome of this little competition.

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