Regions manufacturing Ltd is a multinational company which produces high quality computer spare parts. In its corporate life span of 30 plus years the company had gained a reputation for holding on to its employees, and thus a high sense of job security prevailed. Throughout all those years, the company had never laid off any employees, even in times of great change and restructuring. In the last two years, the downturn in the industry had resulted in the closure of many manufacturing plants in the USA and Europe, as high production costs rendered the goods no longer competitive in the global market. Regions Manufacturing Ltd plant in Sri Lanka now faces a similar challenge and must seek a way to remain competitive in the market in order to survive. A sustainability analysis revealed that employee productivity is a key area highlighted for requiring major changes. The changes necessary involved not only adherence to key performance indicators, but heightening monitoring, “double-hatting”, as well as internal re-alignments.
This means that old established work-teams now experience different supervisors and pressures. As expected the strong Union has initiated resistances to all changes as there is anticipation that the company will attempt to “manage out” poor performers who will most certainly be highlighted with the new systems. The Union attitude has considerably hindered and slowed down the implementation of changes. Mr. Suresh Gunaweera is a senior supervisor in charge of the production output of machine number 1. He is an efficient and hard working Supervisor. The estimated production output of this machine is 150 units per day, which can be produced by 15 employees and the tolerance for rejects is less than 2%. The current output is 100 units per day which is produced by utilizing 25 employees. The reject levels are at 6%. No systematic time and motion studies are conducted in this factory. Suresh’s relationship with the team working with machine number 1 is not healthy, in that his subordinates perceive him as too ambitious and as driving his team too hard. Suresh resorts to memos and log entries to communicate with his team in his attempt to increase the production and standard of quality.
Suresh is also under very high stress and has been for many months as the management has demanded an increasing productivity of the team and in the use of the machine. Suresh being a disciplined person expects the same level of disciplines and commitment from the others. His team has 02 union members (Nimal & Kamal) who sometimes go out of the work place without informing Suresh to attend meetings with the management summoned by Mr. Ruwan Balawardane the HR Manager. Nimal and Kamal, also work in Suresh’s team in machine number 01. They have spoken to Ruwan, the HR Manager, and stated that the reasons for the low output of the team and the low quality are due to issues relating to the poor raw material and high machine down time as the engineering staff is inefficient. Ruwan had requested them to discuss these issues with Suresh and had not taken any further action. One day Suresh found that Nimal sleeping on duty at his work station. Nimal was requested to start work immediately by Suresh.
At this point Nimal refuse to follow the instructions given by Suresh and proceeds to abuse Suresh by hooting and jeering. At this point Suresh assaulted Nimal by slapping him on his face and accused Nimal of sabotaging production in the presence of all employees. The union immediately initiated a protest campaign against Suresh and complained of the incident to Ruwan. After an internal inquiry conducted by HR, Suresh was suspended for 1 week by the management of misconduct. Suresh was very disappointed once he came back after punishment. He had no interest in achieving the target. He had no more desire to produce premium quality products and reported to work late a few occasion later. His performance was declined and was warned by the management. Suresh has been in this company for 10 years. He loved the company very much but finally he made up his mind to leave the company and go to Middle East for better carrier prospects. Questions:
If you are the HR Manager of this company enumerate the action steps you will take relating to following: A) How would you assist Suresh to improve the performance of his team and there by ensure performance target of machine no 1 are achieved.
B) What are the situations in which counseling techniques can be apply effectively?
C) How would you deal with the incident between Nimal and Suresh?
D) How would you address the staff in issues for machine no 1?
A) How would you assist Suresh to improve the performance of his team and thereby ensure performance targets of machine number 1 are achieved?
As far as the flow of this case is concerned, certain issues/problems can be noted down which has been the reasons for the lack of performance of Suresh’s staff members and the lack of total production of machine number 1 in which Suresh is in-charge of. Those identified reason are as follow:
* Turning point of this case I see is that there wasn’t a proper effective communication within the organization.
* Poor Human Resource Management within the organization
* Lack of planning about the introducing new technology & the changes going to do within the organization
* Not having a proper reporting structure within the factory
Following can be done to assist Suresh to improve the performance of his team by dealing with the above problems * No proper effective communication within the organization
As I have understood throughout the organization there wasn’t a good communication method from Senior Manager to the worker. Though when we first look at it, it seems the ineffective communication is only with Suresh the occurrence of this problem in the 1st place was that throughout the organization there weren’t a proper communication method.
The regional manufacturing is only considered about the target, the production & introducing a new technology. They didn’t consider how it will affect on the employees & then to production. Since they’re more into target they just appointed Suresh as the manager without communication the situation where they are now in the market. Therefore the employees didn’t have much knowledge about the situation & then they thought Suresh is a tough manager.
Secondly the method of communication Suresh use to communicate with his employees is not effective at all. Since it’s a manufacturing environment the workers here are from different backgrounds. They are not from better educational backgrounds & some are working from very young ages. Therefore these can help Suresh to improve the performance of his team and thereby ensure performance targets of machine number 1 are achieved. * Giving a good training for Suresh regarding effective communication & its methods & ask him to be more friendly with workers.
Suresh resorts to memos and log entries to communicate with his team in his attempt to increase the production and standard of quality. As I have mentioned above the people who are in a manufacturing environment coming from different background & with different educational level. They don’t have much knowledge to understand these memos & log entries. Since they have so many difficulties in their lives & when they already have more pressure in workplace, when using these communication methods, they’ll feel disappointment about their employer by thinking that they need only money. Therefore Suresh must use verbal communication to communicate with them and to discuss the worker level problems so that the workers will feel that the supervisor does concern about them. By using verbal communication Suresh will able to know the reasons for poor performance in Machine No 01 & employees will more delight to talk to him & tell the reason & what should need to be done to improve the production.
Any information you communicate follows a communication process from sender to receiver. During the process the sender encodes their thoughts into a written or verbal message. This message is conveyed through a channel. It can be a verbal conversation, email, letter, fax, blog etc. On the other end this message needs to be decoded or interpreted by the receiver. Feedback from the receiver will tell you if the message has been encoded properly. Here in this case the Suresh was unable to choose the right channel to communicate with employees. Since he didn’t receive the feedback he was unable to find the reasons for poor performance. Therefore Suresh should use verbal communication & be friendly with employees in order to get the work done & be productive.
* Establishing a strong Human Resource Management within the organization It seems that Regional Manufacturing Ltd does not have good Human resources management within the organization. There are several places which we can see that it proves. When introducing new changes it is employer’s responsibility to communicate through employees & explain them the situation & secondly it’s their responsible to train the employees to adopt the new technology & get used to the new changes immediately. Therefore it is Human Resources Manager’s duty to make aware about this matter to the senior management. But Mr. Ruwan the HR manager was unable to do that. Thirdly even though union leaders informed Mr. Ruwan about the reasons of low output of the team and the low quality are due to issues relating to the poor raw material and high machine down time as the engineering staff is inefficient.
But Mr. Ruwan the HR manager was unable to take any action regarding this matter. If the HR manager could take action from the 1st place then Regional Manufacturing Ltd would not face such a situation as such now. It is necessary to train employees before put them into a new machine with a new target. Since they have no knowledge about this new machine they are unable to work with it properly. Therefore they will take time to get use to new machine & then maybe because of the lack of knowledge about the operating of the machine they might lose the interest of the job they are doing. Here the estimated production output of this machine is 150 units per day, which can be produced by 15 employees and the tolerance for rejects is less than 2%. The current output is 100 units per day which is produced by utilizing 25 employees. The reject levels are at 6%, It because of the lack of knowledge of the machine.
If the workers know how to operate the machine properly then they would not face a situation. I suggest them to have a training Centre where they can train all the new employees before they put them into machines. So then the trained employees can performed well with minimum output. When Nimal & Kamal informed about the reason for low output of the team and the low quality, the HR manager, Ruwan has not taken any action but only has told them to discuss it with the Suresh. Here the HR manager’s responsibility to inform the real situation for respective persons. If the HR manager could tell the real situation & could give a solution then Suresh would not be much stressful situation achieve the target since then they already have recognized the reason & could give the solution for that.
* Proper planning about the introducing new technology & the changes going to do within the organization The Regions manufacturing Ltd suddenly introduced the new technology without planning it properly. * First before introducing the new machine & the changes going to done, company should inform the employees about the situation why the reasons they decided to change.
* Secondly when they introducing the technology they should recognized the competency level going to need to operate the new machine.
* They operate the machine without any quality controllers. It is the reason for increase the level of rejection. If they could appoint new quality circle then they would have overcome this situation
* No systematic time and motion studies are conducted in the factory. This is another reason for inefficient worker. The company should recognize the needs & plan it accordingly. They could get the help of Industrial Engineers & work-study officers to have the efficient workers & improve the level of performance of each individual.
* Establishing a proper reporting structure within the factory In the Factory there was not a proper reporting structure as I see. Since all the responsibility is on to Suresh he was unable to manage it & was very stressful. * They would have appointed a leader for number of group of people so that he/she will be responsible for their group performance level. Then they’ll feel empower within the organization.
* They would have appointed a quality manager who’s responsible of all the quality controllers so finally the Quality manager will report to the Suresh.
* It’s the same with the Work Study officers too.
* The reporting structure should be as follow:
Work Study Manger
Work Study Assistants
B) What are the situations in which counseling techniques can be apply effectively?
* When Union members complained about the reason for low output
There the HR manager should recognize the actual situation. Employees will not directly come to the HR if they would have a good relationship with their immediate supervisor. Therefore the first step would be to counsel Suresh to overcome from the stressful situation & to guide him to be a good leader by establishing a good relationship with his workers.
Secondly the employees also should go under a counseling session. Since the pressure the employees in they don’t have a knowledge how to do things right. They should guide to build up a good relationship with their supervisor & guide them to have a proper communication with their Supervisor to increase the level of competency * After the conflict between Suresh & Nimal
Since Suresh was in a very stressful situation & the misbehavior of Nimal, Suresh couldn’t manage his anger towards Nimal. So here it’s very important to add knowledge about anger management. Suresh is a senior & a leader, 1st when he saw Nimal was sleeping he should have ask what is the reason for his sleeping during the work. It can be a due to his illness or some other problem. But rather than doing it Suresh has scolded him & then after the argument he has slap the Nimal. As a good leader he shouldn’t do it in the 1st place & also though the worker argues it’s Suresh responsibility as a leader to be patient & solve the problem. So even here the counseling techniques can use very effectively
Nimal should also learn how to manage his anger & how to behave in workplace. Though he was not well he would have informed it his supervisor about his problem. * After Suresh come back to work after punishment
After Suresh come it’s really necessary to go under counseling. Since he’s the supervisor & one who got punished he may felt sad & shy to work in factory. But with the counseling he can realize that it’s not the end of the world & the incident is over & he can start over again.
Since he has severed the organization for every longer period, counseling will help to make him stay within the organization rather than making him to leave the organization. It will definitely show that he’s a very important resource to the organization & leaving the organization will not do anything good for both him & for the organization.
C) How would you deal with the incident between Nimal and Suresh?
In this case both Suresh & Nimal has involved & the both parties have being in misconduct. Suresh found that Nimal sleeping on duty at his work station. Nimal was requested to start work immediately by Suresh. At this point Nimal refuse to follow the instructions given by Suresh and proceeds to abuse Suresh by hooting and jeering. At this point Suresh assaulted Nimal by slapping him on his face and accused Nimal of sabotaging production in the presence of all employees.
After knowing the incident that Regions Manufacturing Ltd has only punished Suresh. As a HR manager he should know the real procedure to handle misconduct & how to follow a Disciplinary procedure. Fact that actually the HR manager only has conducted a internal inquiry rather than having a proper Disciplinary procedure.
When conducting the inquiry there are some rules which should be followed in any circumstance under any scenario;
* Don’t become judge of your own case
* Listen to the both parties
* Fairness to all parties
* Punishment should be equal to the offense
This case study doesn’t clearly say about a disciplinary procedure and also there is no information where the two principles of natural justice have been followed during the preliminary inquiry. The preliminary inquiry has conducted by the HR manager & he should give a chance for both parties to explain themselves. Also the HR manager should punish both parties since the mistakes have being done by both Suresh & Nimal. The company should have disciplinary procedure to face such misconducts in future. Therefore a proper disciplinary procedure as follow;
Show cause letter/ Charge Sheet
Receiving explanation with
pleading not guilty
Receiving explanation with acceptance guilt
End of the disciplinary procedure
Accepting the explanation
Not accepting the explanation
D) How would you address the staff in issues for machine no 1? Case study mentions that there have been 25 employees working in machine number1 where the required no of employees is only 15. That means there’s surplus within the machine NO 01. & but even with the surplus they still couldn’t achieve the expected level of target. Therefore these methods can use to address the issues; * Providing training to all the employees in Machine no 01 & assigned them new duties. By training their level of competency can be improved & workers who are unable to performed specific task can be assigned into another task. * Providing a roster basis work schedule for Machine No 01 workers From with this method Regions Manufacturing Ltd can use the 15 employees for Machine no 1 & get the maximum output. So that even employees get some free time. But this should be done after the training session. * Changing the placement of Suresh & Nimal
Since they both do not have a good relationship after the conflict it’s better to change the working places of Suresh & Nimal. So that the anger between them will not affect the producing & no future conflicts will be occurred. This should be done after the counseling & with a proper communication. * Appointing new group leaders
If we can appoint new group leaders then they’ll responsible for their group performance. When in a situation like this people afraid to do any mistakes & they’ll get motivate by their new responsible & will perform well. * Introducing some incentive individually & group wise.
This will be another motivate factor for employees to perform well. They will try to achieve their target when they receive an incentive.
For any organization that are going to introduce new technology & which are going to do changes should do it according to a proper plan. No matter what new things you bring without proper planning you never achieve your targets. The same time an organization should have disciplinary procedure within the company to face miscounts. So that will prevent loosing good employees from the organization. Another factor which we can learn from this Case Study is about the Communication method. For any organization you should have a proper way of communication to communicate with employees. The proper communication will establish a strong employee employer relationship. Therefore when you communicate you should select the right media/Channel to communicate.