Strategy Build a responsible and knowledgeable workforce

By increasing the skills and abilities of individuals, teams, and supervisors, Eastern would be able to increase productivity, reduce operating costs, solve personnel problems, and increase teamwork across the entire plant (see Table 2-6). Initiatives in support of this priority included training and developmental opportunities in support of self-directed work teams.

Strategy 5 held the key to successful achievement of the other strategies—the building of a workforce and organization that: (1) was aligned with the strategic direction of Eastern; (2) was structured, capable, and motivated to improve performance; and (3) worked together across departments to provide a "seamless" process of production and quality and to generate new product concepts.

In building a flatter, more streamlined workforce, the company's strategy in the past had been to press for reduced manning and more teams and teamwork. As a result, many teams had been generated and trained to take responsibility for the problem solving and decision making necessary to keep their process operating at peak efficiency. Supervisory and hourly positions were reduced and roles and functions were changed.

In the spirit of building the total Eastern organization, the company's strategic emphasis went beyond reduced manning and generation of teams. The strategy was focused on organizational effectiveness: building the whole organization through a stronger linkage and alignment between management, supervisors, and bargaining-unit employees. The opportunity before company management was to build new

TABLE 2-6 Building a Responsible and Knowledgeable Workforce

Project Initiatives

Measures

Risks

Continuation of empowered, self-directed work team development (decision making and responsibility); new performance appraisal system for salaried employees; development planning; knowledge and skills training for bargaining unit employees; supervisory development program; strategic plan communication process conversion to parent salary structure; new bargaining unit job classification (stemming from the labor contract); HR strategic plan

Offer developmental opportunities to sustain employee education and growth through mentoring, inside training, outside technical managerial training, and opportunities to manage

Better communication and coordination within team members and between supervisors and teams; innovative, timely, and sound employee and team decision-making; better use of tools, equipment, and raw materials; employees will be prepared to assume new responsibilities as a result of developmental exposure; enhanced partnership agreement; increase in ideas and solutions from employees; reduce manhours per ton

Successful development planning; track progress through training records; enhanced employee performance

Self directed teams would not work in the unionized work setting; employees would not act on incentives to train and develop new skills; strategic communication plan is not effective in improving employee support of company goals.

The plant could not implement mentoring and training initiatives because of the company culture supervisory roles and functions into the new team-based organization, requiring development of leadership skills, better business and productivity management and monitoring skills, and more support for technical supervision and cross-department process improvement. Support services such as human resources management helped to lead the effort. Organizational barriers to effective supervision were identified and eliminated. Organizational and training initiatives were underway to help supervisors function as the guiding force for day-to-day operations.

Development tools included business and productivity management, process improvement, facilitating and mentoring opportunities, inside training, outside development (technical and managerial), and management opportunities within the organization. To focus on incentives, Eastern reviewed its performance appraisal and gain-sharing structure to ensure that they were aligned with this strategic plan, and made improvements when necessary.

To ensure effective communication, quarterly plant communication meetings continued and more information was provided to employees "online," especially in the area of human resources.

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