Change in Business Essay
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The case by Harvard Business School concerning the Tread Tire Company offers a standard management system example, which has prohibited the employees to achieve their desired production level. Treadway Tire Plant’s high earnings and job discontent were some of the matters that require addressing. Nine hundred and seventy hourly and 150 salaried workers were tested to thrive in an environment where they did not comprehend the way they could handle it. Experienced human-resources expert Ashley Hall is faced with an overwhelming responsibility of evaluating the challenges and establish an action plan to tackle these issues.
Treadway closed its Greenville plant located in South Carolina because it lacked modern equipment thus moving most of its operations to the plant in Lima. The Lima Treadway Tire Plant transformed to constant operations because of the added volume. Currently, the plant’s employees rotate in four working shifts since it operates on a 24-hour basis.
Despite the fact that the plant faced several issues, taking some of the volume to the Lima plant was not a very bad idea since it facilitated headcount reduction, which yielded considerable saving costs. However, these benefit occurred after the introduction of two shifts where employees worked for 12 hours rather than the three shifts where employees worked for 8 hours.
Line foremen at the Lima Treadway Tire Plant supervised the hourly employees. The plant had 50 line foremen to ensure that duties are carried out appropriately and productively. The five are supervisors at Lima and managed every person in their division such as the team producing tires, common supervisors, and the line foremen. The plant manager, Brandon Bellingham, supervised the whole plant while the foremen administered all production phases and assure quality work. In the plant, most foremen took part in the element of rubber such as preparation, assembly of tire, and the ultimate finish or curing.
Because of the several challenges facing the Lima plant, some of the foremen left to work elsewhere. Interviews and a worker survey of foremen leaving the company indicated considerable dissatisfaction in the plant and stressed issues concerning the position of line foreman. Other events highlighted pressure between foremen and hourly employees. Foremen articulated concerns regarding inadequate authority and bad relationships with hourly employees. General administrators, the subsequent level of management after the line foreman, review foremen through their capacity to cover and surpass forecasts. The foremen stipulate that more expectations surpass their power, something that the plant management fails to understand. Grave morale concerns amongst the line foremen also results to endangered relationship between the union and the management.
Grave morale concerns in these relations are evident since each team feels secluded. Foremen are merely expected to accomplish production estimations. There is no one to communicate to them about the company goals and objectives. The upper management, hourly employees and foremen also fail to share a common work setting based on the value. Often, the foremen are pulled in diverse disagreeing courses by the administration, the union, and employees. They lack clear comprehension of the expectations of the superior management. There are trust concerns between the foremen and the hourly employees. Additionally, the plant management does not understand a foreman’s tools or authority to meet its goals and objectives.
Additionally, most of the salaried workers included the production foremen. They were hired at the plant mainly to work in four key areas namely; Quality Assurance, material Management, Maintenance, and Production. The foremen educational backdrop and expertise influenced their performance at the firm. Alternatively, line foremen carried the most challenging tasks that involved juggling and resolving various administrative, resource, and personnel concerns. Bellingham believed that covering performance objectives is a significant duty of a line foreman. Foremen have the highest priority of commencing the tire manufacturing line everyday and make sure that technological concerns do not occur to stop manufacturing on any shift. Foremen are also responsible for the management of administrative processes and unions, they recorded worker corrective measures, and discussed about work principles with union representatives.
In the introduction statement, Brandon Bellingham, plant supervisor, stated that “we have a serious problem (p.1)” There are several major issues surrounding the plant; less or lack of training, lack of communication and trust, low morale, extremely destroyed relationships between employees at every level. Other problems included in the case entail increasing costs of raw materials and powerful international competition.
These problems really exist in the company although the organization has failed to handle them by searching for an outside cause. Plant supervisors across the nation fail to communicate effectively with other supervisors and employees. They concentrate on bonuses and boosting production output. The supervisors do not identify the important of starting up the system that prioritizes employees’ interests, training, innovation, and engagement. Providing workers high wages particularly line foremen will not cause job contentment or enhanced performance. The workers should receive proper training that would then improve their satisfaction. Workers will only be happy if they know their duties properly. Offering adequate education and information make workers to feel important; thus resulting to job contentment. Consistent demands from supervisors to carry out their job appropriately causes increased turnover. Additionally, the organization made a decision to close one factory and extend production to operate for 24 hours. The closure of this plant indicates problems and caused employees insecurity. Through better wages, elevated expectations, and management pressures, the company thought that it would handle all problems and succeed but instead it failed despondently.
As aforementioned, the Lima plant has faced several key factors that have negatively contributed towards the creation of a sound workforce. These factors have caused despaired, isolated, and unprepared foremen thus impeding them from performing their jobs properly. Some of these aspects are:
a) Development and motivation: General Managers’ failed to connect with their teams. They did not have an idea of where to place their employees or the kind of duties to give them. In 2007, the plant conducted interviews on the leaving foremen and worker contentment study to highlight some of the challenges they went through while working at the plant. They indicated tense relationship between foremen and hourly workers. For instance, one line employees reported to work late after a break but the foreman would not listen to him but instead opted to shout at him. The employees stated that the foreman would not even allow him to speak. This made Wall to assemble several line foremen concerning their duties. They articulated issues about inadequate control and adverse relations with employees that worked hourly.
b) Inadequate communication: Line foremen felt alienated since there was no communication between themselves and other groups inside the plant. Other divisions in the organization worked separately, in accordance to their respective priorities and appeared unsupportive and unresponsive to the foremen. Th situation discussed in (a) above showed a lack of communication between the line foreman and the hourly worker.
c) Inadequate training: Most foremen return to their respective duties after training of few hours. The superior manager imagines that they require few training hours prior to their tasks. This makes them uninterested because of inadequate preparedness. However, such inadequate knowledge made the employees find it difficult to remain loyal to the company. Ashley Wall started a training program although the plant failed to consider it as a precedence and scrapped it from the company budget
d) Recruitment process: The Lima plant is also faced with another challenge of interpersonal skills such as communication abilities, delegation abilities, ability to work with other employees when recruiting and screening employees. The managers put more emphasis on short-term goals instead of choosing the qualified employees for the task.
e) Recognition and support: The challenges at Lima plant seem to escalate because the workers do not think that their supervisors portray good examples. This has also made some of the foremen to disassociate themselves with the plant.
Similarly, line foremen in the company also complained about being positioned on their jobs without training or coaching after the plant employs them. They did not feel engaged with their duties since they lack the necessary competencies and expertise. According to a survey conducted by Lima Plant, 96 percent of the foremen felt unprepared to achieve their goals. Secondly, there was also little judgment when handling employees. Union treaties stated yearly pay increases and grievance process did not involve the foremen. The plant directors seemed to favor conventional management techniques, which were adversarial. Third, some of the foremen experienced frustration on their careers because of their low advancement potential and the fact that only the employees within the company received promotions. Fourth, the foremen felt isolated and uninvolved. They did not have the necessary power to execute assigned responsibilities. Some of them felt that the management was insensitive to their problems. Even though their duties entailed various responsibilities, they lack the feeling of being engaged because of communication failure with employees who work on an hourly basis and the superior management.
Although the Treadway Tire plant at Lima has faced these problems, they can be avoided through an action plan:
a) The plant should prioritize training and coaching programs and must also offer new foremen on-the-job, broad, and formal training, which motivate them while carrying out their tasks. The advantages of the coaching programs would outweigh the expenses and reduce time but allow the foremen to increase productivity through the utilization of necessary tools. Bellingham must also receive a cost benefit analysis from Wall.
b) Rather than anticipating the management of hourly workers and achievement of forecasts from low-level supervisors, immediate managers must become engaged with the group and the management must communicate and connect lasting vision that assist in making their low-level mangers to feel engaged.
c) The plant should also introduce technical innovations to trim down the operating expenses and efforts of foremen. The management should offer its employees with rewards to boost their working morale, which would in turn increase productivity and engagement by the employees while working.
d) The plant’s human resource must establish regular conferences with its salaried employees and make department representative to assist in making flexible company framework as well as discuss general concerns, problems, and issues. Lower administration must also have a chance of expressing their outlooks and projected changes, which may lead to cost effectiveness and better production levels.
e) Lima Plant should adopt balanced employment policies as Ashley Wall had recommended for instance 30 percent college graduates, 10 percent organization transfers, and 60 percent internal hires. It should also foster informal and formal relationship amongst foremen by encouraging the substitution of personal competencies and expertise.
Other organizations should learn from Lima Treadway Tire Plant. They must realize that even though high employees’ expectation plays a vital role in any firm, workers should be given the necessary training and tools to facilitate strength and confidence when performing their duties. Organizations should base employees’ expertise on their education level when providing development and learning opportunities to improve their personal and professional growth. Employees must feel linked to the company. Managers can attain this by identifying their tasks, rewards, continuous communication with employees to understand their issues, valuing their accomplishments, and offering important assistance to augment their employment satisfaction. Long hierarchies created by many organizations isolates working teams and do not have clear communication. It is important for companies to use flat structures to enhance their communication with all employees and create sound relationships.
In conclusion, this is a study carried out by Harvard Business school students with an aim of understanding the reason behind job discontent amongst employees at Lima Treadway Tire. The study carried out by the plant tested nine hundred and seventy hourly and 150 salaried workers who were required to prosper in an environment where they did not comprehend the way they could handle it. The main plant faced several problems leading to the closure of Greenville plant in South Carolina. However, even though the plant faced grave problems, it experienced a headcount reduction therefore yielding considerable saving costs. Line foremen took part in making sure that tire preparation, production, and finishing was performed effectively. However, they could not establish good rapport with hourly employees since they did not understand each other. However, it is projected that some of the challenges encountered in the plant was because they did not receive training on how to communicate properly with one another. Secondly, managers did not motivate their employees thus making them to lose the working morale. On seeing that, the line foremen would nag the employees thus causing the problems. The plant also failed to recognize some of its employees who worked diligently thus lowering their confidence. Nevertheless, organizations should learn from Lima Treadway Tire Plant mistakes. Workers require essential training and tools to boost strength and buoyancy when performing their duties.
Organizations should also ensure that the hire qualified personnel to boost productivity and reduce costs. Rewards also play a huge role in ensuring that employees work hard and improve productivity. However, as indicated above, the Lima Treadway Tire Plant would be able to revive its productivity when it encourages communication, reward its employees, and hired qualified people for the job.
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