Norfolk Southern hiring question

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Norfolk Southern hiring question

Postby johnnycochran45 » Mon Mar 05, 2018 8:21 am

I recently applied for an operations supervisor trainee position with Norfolk Southern in Macon, GA. I am a US Navy veteran, retiring after 21 years and some change. I had the initial phone/online hiring brief back in October 2017 where they went over the outline of the company, job description, Q&A session, etc. After that, I had a phone interview in early November which went quite well and the recruiter told me they were anticipating me going to the July 15th, 2018 class. I was initially told I would hear something in the following two weeks for flying down to Macon for face-to-face interviews. After a month went by, I emailed the HR person and was told there were currently no interviews scheduled in Macon, but that could change early in the new year. I was also told I was "still in the pipeline for the July 2018 class". The last contact was in December. I sent another Email in February just to follow up and keep the lines of communications open and It has been radio silence since. So my question is, can anyone tell me if this is normal? I've heard they take their sweet time during hiring and I really want this job. But I also don't want to pass up other opportunities waiting on a job that never materializes. Any help or insight anyone could provide would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
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Re: Norfolk Southern hiring question

Postby Acela150 » Tue Mar 06, 2018 8:01 pm

If you weren't applying to be a Trainmaster you'd get answers on your questions. Good luck telling someone how to do their job without doing it yourself.
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Re: Norfolk Southern hiring question

Postby Gadfly » Sun Mar 11, 2018 3:34 pm

Acela150 wrote:If you weren't applying to be a Trainmaster you'd get answers on your questions. Good luck telling someone how to do their job without doing it yourself.


Yeah, I think that's amazing. They hire people off the street that know sh** from shinola about railroading, but they can tell ME how to do a job I've done for 20 years. OTH, its funny to see these up n' comin' "supervisors" full of hopes of great success out there at midnight chipping ice out of switches, being on call every minute, away from home for days on end. And they're gonna be the President of the company in 6 months (sarcasm mode ON). Yup! I've seen these "one month wonders" show up on the RoW telling us to please unlock/remove the blue flag off the shop track so his crew he's "supervising" can switch the track! :( YIKES!
When I tried to explain that that was an illegal move, and I couldn't do it anyway because I didn't have the key, OH boy! This college "wonder" told me to go back to my duties: HE was in charge! He got his Alpha Sierra Sierra all but run off when he forced a new shop employee to unlock it, and the switcher ran in on a work crew that was working on a Ballast Regulator. EVERYBODY involved in that incident got time off-- including the worker that allowed the unwitting newbie to unlock the flag. Close call. Luckily, the workers on the machine spied the engine coming and red-flagged him!

Anybody that thinks somebody can just walk onto the property and start "supervising" seasoned employees who are up on the Rules is just NUTS--including the company that hires them!!! :( I'm sorry, but I'm just NOT impressed by the "college" degrees that don't know beans 'bout railroading, but they sure can tell US how to do our jobs! :(

GF
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Re: Norfolk Southern hiring question

Postby Wayside » Sun Mar 11, 2018 4:43 pm

Best of luck, original poster. I have no experience with NS's ops mgt trainee process, but I do know from other Class I railroads that they generally do a good job preparing for the job(s) at hand. Having military background should give you a leg up in the long run. You'll have lots of opportunity to learn from mistakes along the way, and to learn from the people you work with as well. Soak up as much as you can, and as I'm sure you already know, you won't succeed unless you treat your people with respect and support their being successful.
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Re: Norfolk Southern hiring question

Postby johnnycochran45 » Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:32 am

Thanks Wayside. Couldn't agree more on your recipe for success.

As for Gadfly and Acela150, It sounds like you both have had some pretty horrible experiences in regards to supervision and management. I can certainly see how frustrating it would be for someone with zero experience in your field to come in and think they are infallible and know everything. First of all, I have no fancy college degree to speak of (nor do I believe it is a substitute for experience). What I do have is almost 22 years of supervision and management experience in the military, including 7 combat deployments in extremely austere environments. And, while those experiences are not at all related to the railroad, I can most certainly relate to how bad decisions result in someone going home in a box. I believe leadership is less about "telling people what to do" as you have stated, and more about having the ability to interpret and enforce regulations, to motivate your people, and, most importantly, to LISTEN and communicate effectively with your people. I believe that, in almost every facet of life, you can choose to be right, or you can choose to be effective; Very rarely can you be both. I choose to be effective. I always assume that I am never the smartest guy in a room because that makes me more capable of listening to, and valuing, everything that each and every one of my folks brings to the table. I don't know either of you, and it's certainly not my place, or intent, to try to change your perception. I simply wanted you to understand where I'm coming from and understand a little more about who I am. I am a firm believer that if I approach every situation with a bad attitude, I most likely will be right. If your automatic thought about every supervisor you meet from here to eternity is that they are all just full of themselves and incapable of being decent, then I'm sure that's what you will continue to find. And if that's the case, and the supervisor pool is that convoluted in your mind, then apply for the job yourself, leverage your 20 years of experience, and fix it from the inside.
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Re: Norfolk Southern hiring question

Postby gp80mac » Wed Mar 14, 2018 3:52 am

Sounds like a trainmaster already.

Good luck. You'll need it.
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Re: Norfolk Southern hiring question

Postby Acela150 » Wed Mar 14, 2018 3:14 pm

gp80mac wrote:Sounds like a trainmaster already.

Good luck. You'll need it.


LOL! He'll be perfect at it.
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Re: Norfolk Southern hiring question

Postby Gadfly » Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:25 pm

johnnycochran45 wrote:Thanks Wayside. Couldn't agree more on your recipe for success.

As for Gadfly and Acela150, It sounds like you both have had some pretty horrible experiences in regards to supervision and management. I can certainly see how frustrating it would be for someone with zero experience in your field to come in and think they are infallible and know everything. First of all, I have no fancy college degree to speak of (nor do I believe it is a substitute for experience). What I do have is almost 22 years of supervision and management experience in the military, including 7 combat deployments in extremely austere environments. And, while those experiences are not at all related to the railroad, I can most certainly relate to how bad decisions result in someone going home in a box. I believe leadership is less about "telling people what to do" as you have stated, and more about having the ability to interpret and enforce regulations, to motivate your people, and, most importantly, to LISTEN and communicate effectively with your people. I believe that, in almost every facet of life, you can choose to be right, or you can choose to be effective; Very rarely can you be both. I choose to be effective. I always assume that I am never the smartest guy in a room because that makes me more capable of listening to, and valuing, everything that each and every one of my folks brings to the table. I don't know either of you, and it's certainly not my place, or intent, to try to change your perception. I simply wanted you to understand where I'm coming from and understand a little more about who I am. I am a firm believer that if I approach every situation with a bad attitude, I most likely will be right. If your automatic thought about every supervisor you meet from here to eternity is that they are all just full of themselves and incapable of being decent, then I'm sure that's what you will continue to find. And if that's the case, and the supervisor pool is that convoluted in your mind, then apply for the job yourself, leverage your 20 years of experience, and fix it from the inside.


We had a few. About the best one we had was "Fred". He, too,was a college intern. but was one of the exceptions. He was fair. He was willing to listen to US, and often asked how WE might approach a particular problem. Fred was a "Team Builder" and much of that military might and threat so often used by railroads didn't fully wash with Fred. Fred was from Michigan and he teased me, for one, about "you southerners can't drive in snow". This was about 1993 and we had some rough winters along about then. One morning it snowed pretty bad. I tiptoed into work (about a 22 mile drive) and Fred wasn't there. Seems his new Mustang couldn't cope with the two foot drifts and ended up in a snow bank! He called in to the foreman, asking who showed up that morning being as how it was so bad. There were about of 5 of us in the department that were there, and Fred asked, "Well, is J (Gadfly) there?" The foreman said, "Yes, he's here" and Fred groaned. "OH NO! Yer KIDDIN'! I'm the one that's stuck right in town (about 6 miles out) and HE'S driven 20-some miles! He'll never let me live this down!" :-D :-D
Last I heard of Fred, he is an AVP at NS.

Another one I "knew" was Wick Moorman. He was a Track Supervisor at Greensboro, NC in the early 80's. When I bid off the Line-of-Road and back to the Shops, I was shipping sheaves of pick list requests for Track Material to him and other TS'es. I always signed them "JWO". Sometimes he'd call in and I'd happen to answer the phone. He moved on and I lost track of him. Next I knew I had retired and Wick was CEO of NS!!!

A few year ago I saw him at the NC Transportation Museum (where they overhauled NW 611 recently). I walked up to him and asked him, "You might not remember me, but do you remember getting all those pick list copies signed, "JWO"? He stuck out his hand, "Sure, J-----, I remember you, how'ya doin'!" One of the most approachable people I ever met on the railroad. These two were the exception. Unfortunately, the railroad was (is?) filled with Alpha Hotels, and the railroads actively TAUGHT them to BE that way. Militaristic, autocratic, controlling and micro-managers. Yep. This old railroader seen (sic) plenty of them one-month wonders called Trainmasters. They thought WE were little children that must be corralled and controlled at all times and disciplined with harsh words, warning letters in your file, and time off for ANY mistake no matter how small. Its why we carried something called "Run-off Insurance", or in Southern's vernacular, WHAMMY INSURANCE. I DO have some horror stories relating to my own experience with railroad A H'es. I'll tell 'em sometime......
GF
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Re: Norfolk Southern hiring question

Postby gp80mac » Sat Mar 17, 2018 9:08 am

And you know "Fred" or Mr. Moorman would have never written up such a long-winded and generic speech as our dear OP did in this thread. That generic banter is repeated by everyone that goes in for a trainmaster interview.

We've all heard it dozens (if not hundreds) of times from every brand new, wet-behind-the-ears trainmaster. So while it may impress the recruiters, don't repeat it to the guys under your command if you do land in the job. We won't be impressed. Just practice what you preach - don't preach it. That will impress us more.
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Re: Norfolk Southern hiring question

Postby Wayside » Sat Mar 17, 2018 10:29 am

Nice welcome for a new member.
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Re: Norfolk Southern hiring question

Postby gp80mac » Sat Mar 17, 2018 11:47 am

Wayside wrote:Nice welcome for a new member.


Just being honest. If he can't handle this, he has no hope for being a trainmaster.
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Re: Norfolk Southern hiring question

Postby Wayside » Sat Mar 17, 2018 1:22 pm

gp80mac wrote:Just being honest. If he can't handle this, he has no hope for being a trainmaster.


Well, if your definition of honesty is rudeness, then I would agree.
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Re: Norfolk Southern hiring question

Postby Gadfly » Sat Mar 17, 2018 5:55 pm

Wayside wrote:Nice welcome for a new member.


I don't know if its such a "bad" welcome. We're just tellin' it like it IS. Take it for what it is! The railroad has an environment and a culture all its own. And with that culture comes a deeply-rooted military tradition that started at the end of the Civil War. This was also rooted in the "class" system where one's ability was not necessarily based on one's actual aptitude, but the "class" you came from. Military officers were considered to be "gentlemen" with high levels of strategic, tactical and organizational training. The regular folks--farmers, laborers, journeymen- were inferior and as such, the management styles were geared toward a highly paternalistic method of management. Lower "classes" of people with no "gentlemenly" qualities were regarded as children who, in turn, could not be trusted with much responsibility. THEY has to be treated as recalcitrant children that were expected to do the wrong things. They had to be punished and such punishments had to be harsh. Employees were/are treated badly with stern scoldings, even shouting, threatening, and time out of service was/is a common method. Unfortunately, it was, and still is often, considered that such punishments are automatically corrective as well as punitive. Particularly with people with high IQ's (which many managements still believe), this achieves exactly the opposite result and is actually counterproductive.

Railroads are steeped in tradition and slow to change. A few companies are slowly are finding that out! They are adapting to a different type of employee. This has been brought on by education, a changing, shrinking world, and people having access to much more information than they had 'way back when. Gone are the barefoot farm boys who came off the farm with a 6th grade education, replaced by line employees who themselves *may* have a college education. Many are already tradesmen with previous skills. People are not as likely to stand glumly while some booming Trainmaster screams in their faces. He might just get the living **** knocked out of 'im.

There used to be a Gang supervisor we used to call "Screamin' Gene". 'Bout as hateful a man as one could find. He LOOKED for reasons to yell at people. And he was TAUGHT that way by Southern RR people at what was known as "The Forest"--a supervisor training school and company retreat that only bossmen and their families could attend. The railroad WANTED their supervisors to holler at people, to always find the least thing with which to take one out of service. Others were simply stern, but would write you up,or give you 10 days "on the ground" if you looked at 'em funny! Now, I'm not making this up! It is NOT fiction! I LIVED it! :( OTH, there WERE some good people. "Boogety" Davis (had a habit of saying on the radio, "Let's Boogety" when he got a green board as a line conductor". The railroad would call you to protect assignments you had NEVER cubbed. And if you messed up, they'd take you out of service for making a mistake. :( I got called on the Crew Book one night--never been trained on it. Didn't even have a Trainman's seniority roster to tell who to call for service. IF it hadn't been for Trainmaster Davis, who knew the crew book by heart, I'd STILL be out of service! :P

I understand that ancient culture STILL drives the railroads with a few exceptions. Its NOT what you imagine, Mr. Wayside. Your "supervisorial" (f there's such a word) will be severely tested in the railroad environment for it is like no other. For me, well......................I made it thru and don't have to worry about it anymore. Trainmaster screams at me now, I would just tell 'im to go do anatomically impossible things to himself. IF you get my drift! :wink:
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Re: Norfolk Southern hiring question

Postby Acela150 » Sat Mar 17, 2018 7:47 pm

gp80mac wrote:
Wayside wrote:Nice welcome for a new member.


Just being honest. If he can't handle this, he has no hope for being a trainmaster.


He's not wrong.
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Re: Norfolk Southern hiring question

Postby gp80mac » Sat Mar 17, 2018 8:46 pm

Wayside wrote:
Well, if your definition of honesty is rudeness, then I would agree.


Call it what you want. I've seen s many trainmasters come and go, and many that couldn't hack it (got fired) would give the same speech. It's not an easy job, and since information is gold out here, the OP should take in everything he can. Or not; I don't care.
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