Summary of the Key Issues, Essay Example

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The article from Skinner and Beckham (2008) takes a look at the negative dynamics present at Treadway Tire Company, a high-capacity manufacturer of passenger and light truck tires.With a large expansion project, the plant in Lima, Ohio, had greatly increased their production goals.  However, according to Director of Human Resources, Ashley Wall, the turnover rate of foremen was higher at Lima than any other plant in the division.

A number of important items stuck out to Wall, as she looked for ways to reverse the incredibly high turnover rate.  One instance was the 23 foremen positions that turned over in 2007 – 23 out of 50 total foreman at the facility.  Operating 24 hours a day, most employees worked 12-hour shifts and were judged harshly on their performance.  This was their top priority – to ensure technical issues wouldn’t stop production during the shift – and often a wide variety of items got in the way of their positions.  They consistently had to deal with late or missing employees, administrative concerns, and, when production was halted, it was not uncommon for them to get yelled at by their superior.

Morale is an important point for the foremen. As they are expected to keep production numbers up, a great deal of pressure was placed.  However, it did not matter if they were missing machines or workers, as the blame was placed on these individuals.  Often the lowest item on the totem pole, foremen did not feel they had any leverage whatsoever in these hard facts. Thus, it is not surprising that they received a great deal of stress or lost their job in the process.

Other aspects made the process difficult for the foremen as well.  For instance, in the past they only received “informal training” as the supervisors did not wish to do a lot of “hand holding.”  Supervisors wanted foremen to follow in their own management styles. With the high turnover rate, it is clear that supervisors put foremen into a sink or swim situation – leading to uncomfortable situations. Wall looked at putting a training program in for the foremen to increase their skills, but it was put on hold – it was even admitted that the company needed to do a better job with their foremen.  Yet, it was still rejected due to their “current cost-cutting mandate.”

Outlook for line foremen is also a point of contention. Yearly reviews were conducted, though it was in a very informal capacity. Again, the primary aspects of review were meeting targets and, according to Herb Adams, not aggravating the union or management. Many line foremen felt that there were no ways to move up at Lima. Indeed, in 2008, no new jobs were created and, in 2007, only one line foreman was promoted to general supervisor.

Overall, several dynamics led to the growing problem of foremen turnover and decreased morale.  A lack of training and an overwhelming concentration on performance created a number of problems for foremen, which grew strained when the management techniques became more hostile. There was also a noted lack of understanding coming from supervisors, which placed a lot of stress that also was passed onto their employees. Adding a lack of organizational support, lack of promotion opportunities, and more, and it is clear why turnover and morale were two low points for the plant at Lima.

Comments from salaried and hourly employees at the plant echoed these problems. Communication was a big deal for employees, as they felt that foremen were extremely pushy. Also, there were many rumors that were swirling around, further damaging the workplace. A lack of positive comments was mentioned by one employee as well. It is very clear that a lack of respect, pushiness, and related qualities were a big deal to the unsatisfied employees.

References

Skinner, W. & Beckham, H. (2008, June 12). The Treadway Tire Company: Job Dissatisfaction and High Turnover at the Lima Tire Plant. Harvard Business Publishing, 2189, 1-12.

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