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Rl Wolfe Case Study

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Enhancing production through team-building mechanisms

Improving Production and Quality through Self-Directed Teams at the Corpus Christi Plant

Sullivan University MGT 510 Jermaine Paul

Enhancing production through team-building mechanisms

Executive Summary
This proposal highlights the benefits which can be achieved using selfdirected teams (SDT's) at RL Wolfe's, Corpus Christi Plant. Increases in productivity of 13% to boost productivity beyond the 95% production margin can be achieved if the following issues are resolved at the plant. At present, the company is struggling with the issue of inequality amongst workers. Line operators feel inferior to technicians and are therefore unwilling to give full support in team based efforts. This has filtered into the creation of a new company culture where distinctions amongst employees titles suggests their hierarchy. Continuous occurrence of these issues will lead to a reduction in production as evident with the present target of the third shift not being met. The present morale of the line operators is low and unless boosted will result in a continuous erosion of the company culture. To address the following issues management needs to reduce the concept of distinction between employees. Working as a team, no employees should feel less valuable than the other. The culture of a team as a component needs to be emphasized within the company with performance appraisals apportioned first on a team basis and then on an individual basis. Morale of workers should be addressed by allowing giving line operators rotational opportunities to function as a technician. This will fully cultivated an accepted culture of equality amongst all employees with the organization.

Enhancing production through team-building mechanisms

Introduction
SDT's promotes a flat organizational structure Self-directed teams (SDT's) has increase productivity in many companies across the globe. SDT's are quiet but effectively altering the landscape of corporate business management. By implementing SDT's companies such as Hewlett Packard has promoted a strong organizational culture of teamwork and decision making amongst employees within the organization. A selfdirected team is a multitask group of employees who share responsibilities or duties for producing a particular service or product. In order to maximize the full potential of SDT's the company should have a flattened organizational structure. A flattened organizational structure seeks to eliminate hierarchy and allows employees the autonomy of making decisions on a daily basis(see diagram below).

To tackle the project on a team-based approach, a self-directed team is organized with members picked from each functional area. The team decides on its goals, timelines, and resource requirements. It also decides on how it plans to do the work. Instead of working in serial steps, team members work parallel or simultaneously on different aspects of the problem. Decisions on the product are made considering marketing, finance, and production information. Communication and resolution of problems is faster. Another benefit of using self-directed teams is that team members achieve more job satisfaction in what they do. The team structure allows members to feel that they are contributing to the accomplishment of a goal. Although many organizations have successes in implementing self-directed teams, a lot more organizations fail. The failure stems from the challenges in transitioning top-down and one person leader structures to an organization that promotes self directing teams. For self-directed teams to succeed, they must have clear goals, authority to take action and flexibility to decide on how best to do the work.

SDT's allows employees to participate in the decision-making exercise.

Enhancing production through team-building mechanisms

Background
Low morale can affect the contribution of team members The Corpus Christi Plant is being used as a model to promote the efficiency of using SDT's within the pipe manufacturing plant. The production manager would like to replicate this system at the other two existing plants however the plant is below the expected productivity margin where is can be promoted for use in the other two plants. The following issues have been discovered:  Line operators feel inferior to technicians, They believe their opinions does not matter.  3rd shift is not making its production targets  Low morale amongst some employees of the team  High turnover of floor members which changes composition of teams too frequently  Misunderstanding surrounding the concept of SDT's amongst employees

Problems
Inequality amongst job status Line operators and material handlers have feelings of inferiority regarding job status when compared to the technicians. This situation conflicts with the team-based approach of the SDT’s. If line workers and material handlers believe that their opinions and contributions are less valuable that those of the technicians then there will be a breakdown in the team. Individual versus team recognition Promote team work and reward The primary concept of a team suggests that everyone who forms it will work together for a common goal. This suggest that the team is a single group efforts. component and must be treated accordingly. As such,many individuals however are against the premise of individuals awards and express feelings of discontent whenever individual members of the team are recognized for outstanding performance. Evaluation of employees by peers The absence of employee evaluation is an area which requires immediate attention. If employees aren't evaluated then there is no true measure of their value to the organization. Many employees fear that peer evaluations will not be an accurate indicator of their performance. If there is an absence of evaluation ,then performance awards will be inaccurate and this will demotivate employees who are deserving of such achievements.

Enhancing production through team-building mechanisms Incorrect concept of autonomy A flat organizational structure eliminates the need for middle management. This structure empowers employees to make decision in alignment with company goals and standards. At Corpus Christi the workers are using their autonomy to make decisions which are not aligned with company policies. They have the wrong concept of SDT's and the level of independence that accompanies it. Inefficient team sizes Smaller teams are more productive The implementation of SDT's requires standards where increased performance can be achieved. The sizes of the teams seem too large and impersonal to promote interaction from the team members. If the team is too large there is a likely chance for disagreements which can lead to a breakdown of the SDT's.

Opportunities
There is an excellent opportunity for the Corpus Christi plant to increase its production to 95% or more of design capacity. If the issues surrounding the SDT's are resolved then the company will be able to produce more. At present the company is operating between 80% and 82%. There total output as it relates to design capacity is between 1800 tons and 1845 tons of high density polyethylene(PE) per year. At present the company is producing 338 tons less that the desired amount for it to operate at the set margin of 95%. Restoring efficiency in the SDT's will enable productivity. Third shift workers will be able to meet their targets which will contribute to the additional units of production. As long as the SDT's remain effective their will be less blurred lines between management and the employees and job satisfaction will increase.When job satisfaction increases so will morale(see diagram below) .

Effective SDT's can increase the plant production to 95% of design capacity.

Enhancing production through team-building mechanisms

Recommendations
Promote equality in job status In order for the SDT's to be fully effective each employees must feel equal to each other. There should be no hierarchy in the technicians position that would allow the line operators and material handlers to feel inferior. Management must ensure that although the positions may be different, each party involved is treated as equal to the other. Set clear parameters for team and individual recognition The parameters for team and individual must be clearly understood. The idea is that everyone works and thinks as a team to achieve goals. Team recognition should identify those who have met target and whose productivity is reflected on a regular basis. The individual recognition component should be designed where desired criteria is recognized and promoted for other employees to adapt. The individual recognition component must have a strong attachment to the team recognition in order to deter individual efforts. Apportion performance appraisals on a team basis only Work related incentives should be given on a team basis. There should be no merit awards given to individual employees as this cultivates a different culture within the organization. The pay scale should be equal amongst employees and promotions and salary increases should be given on a team basis. Define autonomy within teams There should be a clear boundary regrading the autonomy that each team

Parameters will help employees define the boundaries of their autonomy

Enhancing production through team-building mechanisms member possesses.SDT's require clear decision-making boundaries to function effectively (Garvin,1997).If employees are aware of the limits of their independence and the desired goals then they will make better decisions. Reduce team sizes to promote greater interaction Smaller team sizes will promote greater communication amongst members. If the team is too large then it becomes impersonal and individuals become unwilling to contribute their thoughts and opinions. They can easily be missed and contributions overlooked which cause employees to think they are not valuable. A smaller team means more open communication channels which will lead to more collection of ideas from everyone.

Implement a system where team productivity is measured Measure productivity on a team basis Measuring a group's productivity can be tedious, challenging and overwhelming. This system should start by assessing the group from an individual level, looking at how well they work with team members and how their effort contribute to the ultimate team product. The second step should look at the team as a whole, their internal functions as a group; are they able to problem solve effectively as a group? How effective are their team meetings? Are they able to come to a resolution as a group? These key elements should be thoroughly assessed when measuring a team's productivity. Increase seminars and forums for employees There should be continuous workshops and seminars at regular intervals within the organization. These workshop will serve as training sessions in allowing teams to be able to brainstorm and provide productive feedback to their units. These meetings can be also used to provide ideas to management as to how the plant can improve its productivity. Coordinator should know job so as to offer solutions Coordinators are responsible for subordinating duties that relates to the ongoing operation of the plant. They should know how to get the job done in order to provide assistance. If the employees are more knowledgeable than the coordinator there will be lack of respect and increased autonomy on the employees.

Enhancing production through team-building mechanisms Promote peer evaluation Team members are usually the best persons to offer criticism and identify areas that needs improvement with each other. Every member of the team want a good evaluation,therefore they should not be afraid to speak out. If employees are told from the introductory phase that they will be evaluated by there peers, then everyone will try to impress each other. Peer evaluation will give management a clearer perception into the daily operations of the company and undoubtedly assist in the smooth running of the plant.

Conclusion
With SDT's properly in place Corpus Christi can serve as a model unit for the other RL Wolfe plants. Management will be streamlined and the omission of middle managers ,through a flattened organizational structure, will allow top management to have a direct contact with employees. Having management relate to employees on a one to one basis will motivate individuals to give their best in the daily operations of the plant.SDT's will promote a culture and sharing and teamwork which is vital for the productivity of any organization. Wouldn’t you like to increase productivity to 95% of design capacity?

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