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The Treadway Tire Co. is a supplier of tires to major car companies like Ford, GM, and Chrysler. They have almost 9,000 employees in North America. Treadway Tire Company only has one current operating manufacturing plant in North America Located in Lima, Ohio. There was a second plant in Greenville, SC which closed in 2006 due to financial reasons.

The context of the Study

High turnover rate and high employee dissatisfaction are bad for the company. Out of a total of 50 foremen, 23 had a turnover in 2007. The turnover rate was higher at the Lima plant than any other plant in the division Rising cost of raw materials Price of oil went from $25/barrel in 2003 to $92 in 2007 Raw materials represent 55% of the cost to produce a tire, Damien.
To identify the root causes of the problem, which is the turnover and another one is creating job dissatisfaction among all employees & find out the probable best solutions & action plans to solve the problem.

Executive Summary

Treadway Tire’s plant in Lima, Ohio must confront strong job dissatisfaction and high turnover among its line foremen. The foremen are caught in the middle of an adversarial relationship between the union and management, and they must cope with the needs and interests of both.
They also perceive the limited opportunity for career advancement. Solving the problem requires rethinking the philosophy that guides workforce management and changing the Treadway culture that has grown up around that philosophy. Facing mounting pressure to reduce costs and increase productivity, the director of human resources Ashley Wall must work quickly to analyze the root causes of the problem and provide an action plan to reduce turnover of the line foreman segment.
Later, the facts we have found while studying the case of The Treadway Tire Company are described in the findings and also some recommendations from our perspective have been presented there. It also includes the conclusion of the report.

Reasons Behind Job Dissatisfaction and High Turnover

By analyzing the critical workforce disparities, it may be possible to identify some reasons why job dissatisfaction & high turnover is existing at the Lima Tire Plant.
  • Lack of training

Foremen are not given proper training before attending their job. They are just ordered to do something without giving any instruction. So their job involvement is too low. As a result, they switch the company or go for hourly work or transfer other plants. So productivity is hampered due to this occurrence.

  • Hourly based employee’s careless tendency toward foreman

Foremen have been given limited power for controlling hourly based employees. They cannot fire them. Most of the time hourly based employees come to their workplace late. They do not follow the command of foremen. So there is a misunderstanding between them. The violation also exists there. Finally, they cannot fill up the expected target.  
  • Impact of the limited power of foremen

As I have already mentioned above that foremen’s power is limited. They cannot go against union’s wish. When a labor is irregular or often late at work then foremen cannot take any effective action against him. Actually, they have less power to control them. So Most of the time foremen cannot reach expected target.

  • Impact of communication lacking

Foremen know the demand and problem of the labor. But they cannot present those to the management due to the proper communication channel. So problems don’t get a solution and finally these reduce productivity.
  • Impact of less organizational involvement

Foremen do not get training before attending their work. So their organizational involvement is very low. As a result, they quit their job or transfer into another plant as their wish. so there has been an employee lacking. As a result, productivity is hampered.
  • Impact of being less educated

Most of the foremen are recruited from internal promotion. They are not well educated. As a result, they cannot properly control the labor. They misbehave with the labor and do not try to understand them So there has been a conflict between them. Most of the time they cannot fulfill the expected target.
  • Lack of role clarity

The foremen, apart from handling the tire production line and taking care of technical issues were expected to do a lot of other tasks. For instance, the foremen were required to maintain safety and health standards while they were in no way equipped with the necessary skills. So Incidents often take place. And finally, it reduces productivity.
  • Impact of Long shift timing

There are two 12 hours shifts. So most of the labors fall in sick. They often absent in the workplace. So their substitutes are not available all the time. So production is hampered due to this problem.
  • Impact of learning environment lacking

There is no environment of knowledge sharing regarding safety issues, previous related information with working issues between foremen and managers. It hampers productivity.
  • Poor quality performance review

Foremen’s performance is not reviewed. If they do any mistake or cannot fill up the target then they are threatened but never been taught how to overcome this problem. So foremen do the same mistake repeatedly and finally, it hampers productivity.
  • Impact of the poor relationship between management and union

Management always wants to reach the expected target in any way. They are not concerned about labor’s demand and want. They even don’t think about their problem So there is a problem between management and union. Sometimes Union does strike. They stop the regular work. So there have been a problem in production.

Recommended Action Plan

In view of the above-stated problems faced by line foremen, Ashley Wall should recommend the following ways.
  • MBO-Management by Objectives

 Following MBO, the management and the line foreman and the hourly workers can engage in a systematic goal setting process. Targets, feedback session provide an opportunity for the employees which actively support the individual’s success. Perhaps, the nature of goal setting ensures that the goals are achievable so this specific time frame helps foreman plan for each period in advance reducing overburdened by fluctuating demands.
  • Improved Recruitment Process

Based on the interview process, there are of three types of procedures: biographical, situation based and behavioral. According to the case, they are conducting a situational based interview where they are given hypothetical situation problem solving and asked to use their technical skills for proving their knowledge. But behavioral based structural interviews aim to get candidates to tell how they would behave in situations that have been identified as critical to successful job performance’s, in the case of recruitment processing; both systems can support to select perfect candidates who are interested in a manufacturing career.

 Introduction of formal training/mentoring programs

Workers must earn enough knowledge through formal training processes which supportive crucial industrial manufacturing processes such as tracking their hours and production runs. Formal training may be involved through the following phases

a) Assessing what knowledge, skills and /or abilities are needed by learners;
b) Designing the training, including identifying learning goals and associated objectives, training methods to reach the objectives, and means to carefully evaluate whether the objectives have been reached or not;
c) Developing the training methods and materials;
d) Implementing the training; and
e) Evaluating whether objectives have been reached or not.

Reduce shift hours for hourly workers

A major problem for the hourly workers has been the shift from 8-hour shift to 12-hour shift. This format is strenuous and has led to a lot of unfavorable consequences like:
a) sickness among employees
b) decline in performance
c) line foreman having to look for substitute workers at the last moment.
The current policy shift was done with the target of saving cost, but it seems to have a negative impact on the human resource aspect of the plant. The shift duration might be an important reason behind attrition. If possible, the proposal of reducing shift timing to 8 hours can be discussed with the management after doing a cost-benefit analysis and taking into consideration the human resource cost due to high attrition rate and productivity loss.
Conflict resolution methods
Currently, if an hourly worker has an issue with his contractor is unhappy with a disciplinary action, a union steward is brought in to discuss the issues in a joint committee which includes general supervisors and area managers. Line foremen are notably absent in the committee even though they have the knowledge of the actual scenario.
The line foremen are directly in touch with the hourly workers and should have a say in the committee as they have more information and understand the hourly workers better. This will result in a better outcome, satisfying a wider group.
Representative participation will help to empower the line foremen and reduce the perceived gap between them and the supervisors. There might, however, be some resistance from the supervisors as they might feel that their turf is being invaded but it is nevertheless important for the health of the company.

Performance Goals for line foreman

Currently, the performance of the foremen and their line is evaluated on a daily basis. This leads to a lot of pressure on the line foremen to meet the daily performance requirements which is highly dependent on the performance and efficiency of the hourly workers. They are lambasted by the supervisor for not meeting goals and the line foremen, in turn, vents his anger on the hourly workers. This kind of verbal aggression can be demotivating for the entire group. The workmen tend to internalize the negative label leading to the Pygmalion effect which affects performance.
An alternate option could be to have a weekly or a fortnightly review as part of the MBO methods described earlier. It will also enable the foremen to have an in-depth analysis of the losses and the reasons behind them. The goals set should be realistic and achievable. Communicating the targets to the foremen in advance would also help them in planning.
The supervisors’ attitudes also need some attention, they currently just place the blame on the line foremen rather than investigating the root causes of their problems. A proper performance and feedback system should be put in place for the supervisors to deal with below par performance than using primitive KITA methods.
They should work towards identifying the reasons for underperformance, decide on the solutions, monitor actions and provide feedback. This will help in creating a more supportive work environment, fostering effective analysis and problem-solving. Overall, it will lead to a sustainable environment for the holistic development of workers and management.

Use of the correct motivational methods

Hourly workers should be motivated to ask a question to the supervisors and present their opinion. Only highly motivated employees who can see the goals of the organization and share the vision of the company can be highly productive.

Introduce proper communication channels

Communication tends to be one of the biggest challenges against the proper functioning of a labor intensive company. The same is evident from the grievances of line foremen. It is evident that they are not included in major decision-making processes of the company. There seems to be a communication gap regarding any disciplinary decisions and policy changes.
This is a critical issue that needs to be addressed at the earliest. With reference to this, we propose to have a proper communication channel in place. The foremen deal with the hourly workers on a daily basis and have extensive knowledge of problems faced. They are in the best position to analyze and improve work processes.
Establishing a proper communication channel will enable them to communicate effectively with the management regarding policies and convey worker grievances. It will also enable them to gather feedback from the hourly workers, understand their demands and problems. The Lime plant should also have a 360-degree feedback system in place so that the views and feedback of all stakeholders are considered. Overall, such a channel will enable more transparency and communicability in the company, creating an open culture based on trust and fairness.

Improve interpersonal relations

The Lima plant should have events for non-work interaction between hourly employees and foremen. There is a need for an attitude shift of supervisors and area managers. They need to interact more with foremen and understand the problem. The sole responsibility for handling hourly employees should not be given to foremen.
The higher-ups should also be involved in resolving conflicts. The strict decisions against hourly employees should be communicated by the supervisors/area managers so that there is no discontent against the foremen who are directly responsible for getting the work done.

Introduce Employee Recognition programs

To boost the morale of the employees and foster healthy competition which would lead to improved productivity. Continuous surveys should be conducted to identify the moral level of employees and identify possible gaps in the company policies

Establish a learning environment

Encourage employees to take up initiatives, set up procedures for knowledge transfer and documentation and shift emphasis from production goals to identifying root causes of problems and trying to solve them

To build a relationship between line foremen and other workers within the plant

The supervisors and area managers should come out traditional working schedules, as a result, they interact much with lower level employees, and open to share the idea of social events for such interactions. The top management must concerned about recognize the importance of the high turnover rates and bottom line managers which are positively affecting the firm. To promote the line foremen directly involved in these grievance committees and to reduce hostility between the foremen and the union.

To ensure working skills

The foremen were not only handling the tire production line but also taking care of technical issues, were expected to do a lot of other tasks. For case in point, the foremen were required to maintain safety and health standards so they need to the guideline for proper necessary skills.

Lead to proper communication channels

In Lima Plant, it seems to be a communication gap regarding any disciplinary decisions and policy changes so to remove reluctance and improve involvement for taking a part of the major decision making processes of the company byline foremen.

Job rotation and job sharing practices

Job rotation and job sharing practices should be followed. This will help break the monotony of jobs for the hourly workers.

Challenges in implementing change through the above action plan

  • The major challenges faced while introducing the above changes are:
  • The area managers and supervisors are traditional and may feel a loss of power if the foremen are empowered.
  • Training the foremen incurs a cost for the management.
  • Supervisors and area managers might show resistance towards participating in the social events meant for interaction with foremen. They have to be educated about the importance of such interactions and the benefit to the Lima plant as a whole.
  • The foremen and supervisors may take time to get acquainted with and participate in knowledge transfer and participative goal setting procedures.

Lessons Learned

 1. Although high expectation from employees is an important key yet they should also be provided with required tools and training necessary to make them feel strong for the job. Based on individual employees’ talent at the job, they should be provided with advance Learning and development opportunities to advance their career and personal progress.
2. Employees should feel connected to the organization. This can be achieved by recognizing their work, rewarding their performance, develop them regularly, and continuously communicating with them to listen to their concerns, appreciating their achievements and providing necessary help to increase their job satisfaction.
3. Management could incorrectly think about saving time and reducing cost by ignoring employees’ concerns and job-related learning & development. On the contrary, the organization could save more by having satisfied employees that help in reduced turnover cost and increased productivity.
4. Long organization hierarchy only creates isolated groups and lack of clear communication. Flat structure is necessary to improve communication and make strong connections. 

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