Someone with the job title of foreman is usually found in businesses associated with the building or manufacturing industries. A foreman is a supervisor in charge of a team typically performing manual work. Individuals can be specialists, as you can have electric foremen or plumbing foremen, for example. A general foreman is more likely to have responsibility for several teams -- and to have greater seniority.
A foreman is usually responsible for arranging staff schedules. Many manufacturing businesses work to deliver specific orders, so a period of minimal work could be followed by 24-hour manufacturing to complete an order on time. The foreman devises shift schedules and makes the request for more resources, if necessary. As the foreman is responsible for ensuring that the team works together effectively, she can be involved with recruitment and has the power to take disciplinary action or even fire a disruptive team member. Where appropriate, she will identify skills gaps in her direct reports and arrange for training -- or act as coach and trainer herself.
In a manufacturing environment, the foreman supervises work tasks and monitors products constantly to ensure that they adhere to the specifications and quality standards that have been agreed in the contract. If she spots any defects or errors, she is responsible for informing the appropriate senior manager and, if necessary, stopping work until the problem has been solved.
Health and Safety
Manufacturing and construction industries take health and safety risks very seriously. The risks of physical injury with manual work are greater than in office work. The foreman is responsible for checking that staff members wear protective clothing and use the appropriate safety equipment. She also trains new staff on health and safety issues. If someone asks for permission to work in a way that the foreman considers dangerous, she will refuse that request.
In conjunction with other foremen and supervisors, a foreman will review the overall status of all work being conducted at a plant or job site. She will probably attend weekly or even daily briefing meetings, and will submit regular reports to managers. She is likely to hold a key to the workplace, and to be responsible for the maintenance of tools and equipment handled by her team.
Lalla Scotter has been writing professionally since 1988, covering topics ranging from leadership to agriculture. Her work has appeared in publications such as the "Financial Times" and "Oxford Today." Scotter holds an honors Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Bristol.