Treadway Tire Company really does have a problem. The bigger issue is they know they have a problem, they know what the problem is, and they apparently don’t care enough about anything but the bottom line to solve it. In 2007 the Treadway plant in Lima, Ohio lost almost 1/2 of their foremen. Any normal company would identify this as a major problem and try to do something about it. Treadway on the other hand gave only lip service to solving the issues they faced in 2007.
I can only gather from the article that the line foreman job at Treadway is a 12 hour a day nightmare. According to the article, the foremen were hired, given no training, had little authority over their workers, and were expected to meet ever rising productions numbers without question. Sounds like a good time, right? We’ve discussed at length the arbitrary increasing of sales numbers, and the danger it poses to a business. It’s my position that this causes undue stress on employees, which is exactly what we see in the Treadway case. Having challenging but achievable sales numbers is necessary, but arbitrarily increasing them without any understanding of what the market will bear is an amateurish mistake.
Another big mistake I think Treadway made was the 12 hour workday. 12 hour workdays are fine in some instances, but when you provide a 1/2 hour lunch and 2 short breaks in a 12 hour period, you are doing yourself no favors. Longer shifts create more fatigue and more mistakes tend to be made. Yes, you save some money by not having as many employees, but you end up having to pay over time. I’m not sure how much savings you really see, especially when you’re bleeding employees.
A major issue for the foreman position at Treadway is the lack of training. Apparently a cursory training program was developed but never implemented. This is ridiculous. You’re not going to keep foremen if they have to work in these conditions for prolonged periods of time with a sink or swim mentality. Why would anyone in their right mind want this job? At best it’s a stepping stone to get a decent job elsewhere. Treadway does not understand how much turnover is costing them, and apparently they don’t much care.
From my reading of the article, the Treadway Tire Company is a sweatshop. 12 hour shifts with bare minimum breaks and unreasonable production goals make this a really undesirable place to work. Anyone who would accept a foreman position in these conditions is either very desperate for a job, or is just trying to get a foot in the business with the intent of leaving to greener pastures. We don’t see what happened later, but I sincerely hope they worked out their management issues.
I found this study to be pretty monotonous. Some of the ideologies contained within were brilliant; however to constant overuse of phrases like “effective team leaders …” nearly bored me to tears. That’s the bad news. The good news is there were some really great nuggets contained within the study for any aspiring business leader. The study was focused on leaders for new product cross-functional development teams, but I think many of the skills they listed are applicable to any good manager.
One of the best ideologies was the “facilitators, not heroes” view. The manager interviewed here saw himself more as a coach than as a boss. He felt his job was not to micro-manage every little detail, but to point people in the right direction and facilitate communication. He was also big on team member empowerment. He gave his people the latitude to make decisions and encouraged them to do so. This is in stark contrast with some of the more “hands on” management styles we’ve encountered.
Another excellent point the study made was that information should be shared between team members. I liken it to a football team. A football coach doesn’t give the game plan only to the quarterback and expect the rest of the team to figure it out as they go. They tell the whole team which enables them to work toward a common goal. The study made a point that good leaders loosened restrictions over information and resources, enabling team members to be creative in developing their own protocols, priorities, and processes based on the overall team goal.
The final point on which I’d like to comment is that which the article identified as “ensure commitment”. The principle here is to make sure that all team members have skin in the game. Everyone contributes to the inputs and takes a share in the responsibilities for the outcome. This includes involving everyone on the team in all facets of planning, developing, and implementing a new product. By doing this, team members develop a sense of ownership and pride in the development of the product. This ensures a higher quality product and can lead to lower costs as people make every effort to be efficient and accurate in their duties as they relate to the new product.
Overall the study made some very good points, but I can’t help but feel it was much longer than necessary as phrases and ideas we unnecessarily repeated. However; it would be great if every manager out there took some of these ideas to heart.
Well, this is the first post. More of a test than anything. More information will be forthcoming but I wanted to get the canned “Hello World” post off of the site. This site will be dedicated to discussions regarding business management and organizational behavior and might even poke fun at some of the business “buzzwords” that have become so cliché.