Case Study:

In early 1992, I began work with the management of a plastic plant. This non-union plant is a first-tier automotive supplier. Early assessment indicated a committee of salaried, hourly and management people had been formed in the past year to develop a Suggestion System to increase employee involvement (EI). This had gone reasonably well and management, at the urging of its Customer, was seeking to increase the EI effort to be more team-oriented and self-directed.

Within two months, we had a cross-functional Steering Committee made up of members of the original committee and some new volunteers. Together, we planned our strategy for guiding the process, providing training, fielding suggestions and implementing solutions. We trained 45 people in five modules of Interpersonal Communication, Meeting Facilitation, Conflict Management, Effective Teamwork and Team Problem Solving. Following that, the rest of the 300 employees were trained in two modules of Teamwork and Problem Solving.

We were really cooking! Attendance was up, morale was up, cost saving ideas were increasing, and hourly employees were talking to customers and suppliers.

In late 1994, the absent company owner hired a new President--a Marketing and Sales expert. The previous president was demoted to vice president, and the vice president was demoted to plant manager--and moved out of his office onto the shop floor. I met with the new President to up-date him on our work. He was enthusiastic, met with the Steering Committee, and asked us all to continue our work.

Within one month following that day, every outward visible sign of our work was gone; Employee Involvement stopped, no Steering Committee meetings, no more problem solving, no more great ideas. What happened here?

Please use the space below  if you would like to recommend a solution.  Include your E-mail address if you would like to know the actual outcome.

© by Renée Merchant, 1997


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