"Blue Collar" Workers

Making the Most of People's Hard Work and Skills

Make the most of their skills.

© iStockphoto/monkeybusinessimages

Managing people is difficult – especially when the roles of those people are fundamentally different from yours. This is typically the case for managers of blue-collar workers.

While most Western economies are now highly knowledge-based, and the manufacturing base is much smaller than it once was, hard-working manual workers are still fundamentally important.

The term "blue collar" is old-fashioned. It comes from the days when managers wore only white shirts with their suits, while workers on factory floors tended to wear more casual clothing, that perhaps didn't show the dust and dirt that comes with physical labor.

Now, of course, distinctions based on clothing color are ridiculous. But the term is still with us – which is why we use it here to identify people who perform manual labor and usually earn an hourly wage. Their work is hands-on, and often physically tiring, and it's either skilled or unskilled. It's in fields like manufacturing, construction, and maintenance – and it ranges from assembly line work and logistics, to the mechanics who get your car running again at the roadside. It requires dexterity and agility, and it generally attracts people who have skills and interests that are different from those who work in offices or call centers.

Managers in the office and service sectors have often earned their positions by working directly in the areas that they manage. Thus, they usually have a strong understanding of the challenges and perceptions of people within their teams. However, in manual labor operations, managers have often never done the actual work that their staff performs – for example, a construction project manager wouldn't be expected to do a good job of building a wall.

This distinction between management and manual work often creates a barrier of understanding. So, how can you get past this barrier to successfully manage people in the blue collar sector? And how can you improve understanding between yourself and the blue collar workers you manage? Here are some ideas that you can use.

Management Philosophy and Practice

Use some of these guidelines to better manage blue-collar workers:

Access the Full Article

This resource is only available in full within the Mind Tools Club.

Learn More and Join Today

Already a Club member? Log in to finish this article.
Add this article to My Learning Plan

Where to go from here:

Join the Mind Tools Club

Click to join Mind Tools
Printer-friendly version
Return to the top of the page

Your Score
Create a Login to Save Your Learning Plan

This ensures that you don’t lose your plan.

Connect with…

Or create a Mind Tools login. Existing user? Log in here.
Log in with your existing Mind Tools details
Lost Username or Password
You are now logged in…

Lost username or password?

Please enter your username or email address and we'll send you a reminder.

Thank You!

Your log in details have been sent to the email account you registered with. Please check your email to reset your login details.

Create a Mind Tools Login
Your plan has been created.

While you're here, subscribe to our FREE newsletter?

Learn a new career skill every week, and get our Personal Development Plan workbook (worth $19.99) when you subscribe.

Thank You!

Please check your Inbox, and click on the link in the email from us. We can then send you the newsletter.