This post was originally published in 2013. The tips and techniques explained may be outdated.
Jens Dietz has been working at SMA for 10 years. After his day ends at SMA, work continues for the lean manager on his dairy farm in Edertal, south-west of Kassel. That is because Jens is not only a lean manager, but also a farmer. In the following interview, you will find out how he manages to reconcile both.
Jens, you are working at SMA in a part-time position. How did that come about? Right. I am a skilled electronics installer, and I manage a team within the Lean Production & Projects department. As regards farming, I grew up on my parents' dairy farm where I – little by little – assumed more and more tasks. For this reason, to change to part-time two years ago was the best solution for me to come up with. Thus, I have an additional day per week, mostly Fridays, to take care of the family farm back home.
Did this have an impact on your work here at SMA? Not at all. My boss even actively supported me and totally backs me up. Farming is heavily dependent on the weather. My job, though, is very flexible. At harvest time, I can decide to work on the farm another day or leave work earlier. I always coordinate it with my team in advance, of course. Luckily, my employer allows me to be very flexible and that is really motivating.
How do keep up with managing both tasks? I'm keeping up with both just fine, but it wouldn't be possible without support. My family and my team support me a lot. My colleagues are working very self-reliantly. It wouldn't work, if they called me because of every little thing. As a manager, I had to learn to organize things differently. But I know that I can count on my team one hundred percent.
Did you ever consider giving up one of your jobs? Certainly not. I enjoy both! Even when it sometimes requires more organizational effort, it makes my work day more fun. And sometimes both tasks complement each other, and I am able to benefit from it. Essentially, it is all about improving operational processes. As a matter fact, I have compared the production layout with the milking parlor once (laughs).
Can you give some advice on what is important when working part-time? Hmm, I have three things in mind. An open-minded manager, an independent and self-reliant team and a well-organized calendar.