Us Versus Them

Back in the sixties, I worked in a steel mill where I and my supervisor were responsible
for all of the galvanized product which left our mill. We made certain that every pound of steel met all physical and metallurgical tolerances.

If something failed for one customer, it would pass for another, so when something failed the tests, we tried to find a legitimate diversion for it; something with different or lower metallurgical or processing standards. I literally carried in my head a knowledge of all of our customers’ products, including hold down areas, metallurgical requirements, and the product’s use and there were many alternate uses for just about everything we produced that could be sold instead of scrapped.

I came to work before six AM every morning and when I found rejected steel, I noted the reason for its rejection, looked over current orders, found a suitable and proper diversion, made out new tickets, changed processing orders if necessary, pulled the reject tickets and went on my way. “Quality Control” did not come to work before 9:00 AM, so by starting early, I could do this part of my job before they showed up. Otherwise, they would have blocked many of these diversions and much of this steel would have had to have been sold as salvage, and the company would have lost some significant money.

These men never figured out that we all worked for the same company. To them it was always and only Operations vs. Quality Control – “Us vs. Them”.  They constantly opposed the actions of Operations which could have netted larger profits, and consequently caused friction between the two departments that should never have happened.

Instead of cooperating with production to fix problems, they caused hard feelings by gossiping and playing one worker or department against the other. If they disagreed or were upset with you, they tried to make everyone else angry at you.

These men were trying to look good in the eyes of upper management but they succeeded in accomplishing the exact opposite. Everyone in production distrusted and avoided Quality Control like the plague. They had very few friends in the plant, because nobody could trust them.

The “Us vs. Them” attitude that exists in so many organizations, destroys morale. Inter-departmental cooperation is essential if a company is to be competitive and profitable. Self-seeking pettiness must give way to what’s best for the company. People must communicate and cooperate and back biting and gossip must stop. Seeking solutions to problems must replace finding someone to blame. Whether you are at the top of the food chain or the bottom, There’s always a better way.

Positive change is always possible if we ALL concede that “My way or the highway” is the wrong way.

One of my parishioners who had been praying that God would change her husband who
was an alcoholic, was getting upset because it wasn’t happening. I told her that “God always changes our hearts before He changes our circumstances.” I suggested that she try loving her husband, just as he is; “stop preaching at him, stop browbeating him and stop knocking him down and try picking him up.”

She took my advice and within two months, he had stopped drinking and ended up staying dry for the rest of his life. She was correct in despising his drinking and she was also correct in wanting God to change him. She was even justified in getting upset, but her methods turned out to be the wrong way – in fact it even contributed to the very problem she wanted to change.

When she stopped pushing him, and began walking with him, he began to change.

When she stopped being a part of the problem, she became a part of the solution.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they really are God’s children.

Chaplain Fred Jeans, Sebring, FL

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