Principle 1 – One More Note

After yesterday’s post, our company President, Bob Walker, and I were talking, and he mentioned how our style of manufacturing contributes to the stability of families, and he is absolutely correct.  I had hoped to develop the “level manufacturing” discussion later in the blog, but it really does belong in any that discusses employees  . . . so, here goes:

Because our product is seasonal (riding lawn mower), popular manufacturing and employment practices would call for seasonal help, temporary work and extended layoffs when demand has suppressed.  We have chosen to work as a level manufacturer where we try to make the same number of machines each day throughout the year.  To be sure, this is a considerable monetary investment (risk), because at a high inventory part of the year, we may have millions of dollars in equipment on our racks ready to meet the spring demand, but it is an investment that allows our people the stability of year-round employment.  Our employees have “full-time” lives, so they need “full-time” work.

Another benefit of full-time employees is consistent quality of work.  When thousands of manufacturing processes are being completed each week, the value of consistent employees cannot be overlooked.  Some companies use temporary work to increase production, but we have chosen to offer our employees an overtime hours schedule (within a set time period) to meet our high season demand.  This extra expense is put into the pockets of our employees–the ones that are doing the job with excellence all year long.

As a final note, we also work only one shift.  We believe this single day shift allows our employees to be a consistent part of their families and other interests they may have.

We will develop the reason for this style of manufacturing a little bit more as we go through some of the other principles . . . stay tuned.

Comments:

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Gaye Lynn – LED 501
November 27th, 2010 at 7:32 pm

The principles this company discusses in this post are a true example of treating their employees fairly. The employees who do the work to make the products or provide the services a company sells to make their profit are the foundation on which the company is built.

They are trading their time – which is literally a portion of their life – to provide for their families. It is so important that they have the time to spend with the family so that the next generation will be fathered, raised with values and become productive members of the society.

Beyond this – if we are walking the talk, we need to be treating employees with the respect and care that shows the love of Christ.

Brian
November 28th, 2010 at 11:46 pm

I find this post very interesting because I am a manager in a processing plant that by nature is the exact opposite of what you describe. It is a dairy so the product being produced will be consumed in the next month. Also, we are 24/7 365ish (we try to take off Christmas and Thanksgiving. Lately our employees have had a ton of forced overtime with the increase in demand for the holidays. Many are going on 40 plus days straight. It is becoming increasingly challenging keeping the employees motivated in these extreme conditions. What I find is best is to remind them that it is temporary and their work is appreciated. In this craziness all of the managers are also working extra days. I believe those employees that take note of that appreciate that we are all sacrificing together.

AFE8Retired
February 11th, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Unethical business conduct appears to be increasing, why?
The old mighty dollar and greed will keep unethical business behavior on the rise. Even those who may have made some bad judgment, unethical decisions, for the greater good, end up having to continue to deceive, hoping they can get things back under control before the next quarter. While others, may be co horsed to continue the unethical behavior by someone who may have been part of the original deception for monitory or personal gain. However, they all eventually get caught, either by the checks and balances in place or by self identification, guilt–they turn themselves in.

Is this the result of Albert Z. Carr’s “Poker player” analogy?
I don’t believe so, the standards of ethics expected form a Poker player is greatly different from the senior leaders (CEOs) of a large corporation, who are held to the ethical standards, such as perseverance, public-spiritedness, integrity, truthfulness, fidelity, benevolence, and humility (Velasquez, 1992), with his/her actions and information sharing. A poker player is expected to bluff, its part of that industries standards. And, although investing in a large cooperation and the investment of that large corporation may be risky, the outcome must always be reported correctly. Bluffing the outcomes of business decisions will not be tolerated from business leaders; even a poker player caught cheating, different from bluffing, will be banned from the game.

Are there more Enron’s out there?
I believe that there will always be Enron’s out there. As long as businesses are managed by humans; the human factor that’s tied into ethical behavior(s), impacted by life experiences, seems to always fail when faced with decisions that deal with personal gain or loss.
Can we trust corporate leaders to be honest and ethical in the 21st Century?

They will try to be, especially with the new regulations and legislations that were enacted to expand the accuracy of financial reporting for public companies. One piece of legislation, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, expanded repercussions for destroying, altering, or fabricating records in federal investigations or for attempting to defraud shareholders. The act also increased the accountability of auditing firms to remain unbiased and independent of their clients. This should have them thinking twice before considering unethical behavior/decisions–they are now held accountable.

AFE8Retired
February 11th, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Tim,
I think it’s great to find out that there are still companies out there that maintain their ethical standards and leadership still considers its employees when making business decisions. Your company is one of the few that I mentioned in my class threaded discussion response in regards to reflexive learning and the law of sacrifice. I recently started working for a small company (BTAS), main office in Ohio. I support a contract out in Southern California, and they hold the same beliefs, people first.

How has leadership in the last decade demonstrated this law, if at all?
The law of sacrifice, “A Leader Must Give up to Go Up”, was not in the minds of the majority of the leaders for the past decade. They became leaders or were leaders during a decade that started off very prosperous. Big corporation leaders were making big money; they spent big money and were not going to give it up for anyone. And, when times got tough they were ready to bail, not only with their money, but with the money of others. This is not to say that there were no leaders that sacrificed, I’m sure there were, but with all the attention focused on companies like ENRON, stories that impacted millions, which dominated the new, the sacrificers received little or no attention. I’m sure even a story like Lee Iacocca’s would not have been front page news.

Provide examples of service leadership contrasted with “Golden Parachute” Leadership. Which do you believe is more effective, and why?
Service Leadership, The Quest for Competitive Advantage (2006), defines Service Leadership as a culture that empowers the organization to strategize its promises, design its processes, and engage its people in a proactive quest for competitive advantage. When an entire organization has a service leadership mind-set, every employee-customer encounter is considered to be an invaluable opportunity to improve customer service and engender customer loyalty. Under these conditions, every individual takes responsibility and pride in creating or protecting the organizations leading position in service quality or in designated markets by carefully observing and communicating customer needs through the organization.

Golden Parachute is defined on the Business Directory.com site as huge bonus and /or a lucrative contract offered to a director or key employee to compensate for loss of office after a takeover or merger. It may also include a stockholding (shareholding) in the new set-up.
So, based on these two definitions I feel the Service Leadership style, normally seen in company’s like Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Lowe’s, is the better more collaborative, everyone has something to gain style of leadership then the Golden Parachute, which could be found in large corporation like Enron–need I say more.

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” I Timothy 6:10, NIV.

Mike
February 13th, 2011 at 4:10 am

It is great to see a company that is driven to be a one shift type of company. Most of the companies, depending on the business, are a 365 24/7 business. As businesses are driven by profit and not driven to help their employees to be the best that they can be.

10 Comments

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  1. Tammy says:

    It is refreshing to see a company that cares so much about their employees and the employee’s families. In today’s world, the almighty dollar is the most important thing, and it often doesn’t matter how money is made, or who is stepped on or used to make money. I have worked for a business that didn’t care about its employees or their families and it shows in their work efforts, and in their time away from work as far as sick days. The business has seen, just in the past year, a dramatic increase in the number of days off taken by the employees.

    In a world of poor ethics, it is also refreshing to see this business operating in this fashion. Their method of operating will not only increase employee output, but also their loyalty. I would give them whatever time or effort they needed, if I were treated so well!

  2. Dana says:

    It is great for a company to spread the work out over the year to keep employees gainfully employed. Then during the busy season pay them overtime to keep up with demand. This is a perfect example of how management can care for their employees. This is something that is hard to find in this greedy world we live in today.

  3. 1977DSGB says:

    This is an example of management innovation and creativity at work. I truly believe this boss looked at the opportunities and work cycle from his employees’ perspective and decided to implement change. It is commendable when a company invests in its employees. Providing opportunities and flexibility motivates the workers to perform at a higher level.

  4. DeAnna says:

    I would have to agree that it is very important to value family time. I think when you give employees the vision that the company cares about them and their family productivity goes up. It is important for employees to know that they are respected by the company they work for. I believe that when you have happy employees who want to come to work, your sales go up. I think if companies would become a little wiser to this concept they would not be facing turnover or legal cases. It is very important that the leader of a company has the knowledge and wisdom to understand that the success of the company relies on their employees.

  5. Colleen Suitt says:

    Intuitively, collaborative learning and decision making through socio-technical systems appears to make sense and should yield higher productivity and employee satisfaction, not to mention benefits to an entire organization. I am a proponent of this departure from the top-down leadership and single person/single task business model. Spending seven weeks in LED 501 and learning about socio-technical systems and action research, brings up a question in my mind. Is it difficult to change a traditional leadership culture to one of collaboration and is their empirical evidence that the change can be made?
    In a perfect world, with perfect people, the benefits of collective research, brainstorming, and collaborative project completion, aided by the latest technological innovations, would be beneficial to individuals and organizations; like-minded group members with a common goal can accomplish much more than a group of individuals going it alone. This sounds great, but even if technology is reliable, people are not.
    I am not suggesting that socio-technical systems be abandoned, but in order to take the leap from the top-down traditional business model to this collaborative system, businesses will need to become social science savvy to prepare their employees to work in concert with one another. John Aldridge (2004) tells us that “socio-technical systems create the organizational context for knowledge sharing, learning and innovation enabling work groups to think and learn collaboratively thereby, develop original work patterns, maintain flexibility and competitive advantage” (para. 4). I have no disagreement that is can be the end product of socio-technical systems, but it appears that creating this new organizational context will require individuals and organizations to exercise trust, empathy, responsibility, and privacy and organizations will need to understand the relationship between “know-how with social science sensitivity” (Shneiderman, 2008). Moreover, Shneiderman tells us that organizations will need scientists to study these characteristics and provide empirical evidence to their viability. Real-world case studies will be needed to provide predictive models and viable simulations (para. 7 & 8).
    Certainly, seven weeks in a graduate leadership class does not make me an expert in leadership, let alone an expert in socio-technical systems. My initial opinion is that anything that promotes self-regulation and innovation, values collaborative decision making, and increases productivity is worth the organizational change. Where organizations have relied on strict control of knowledge and the traditional relationship of leader/follower, however, it will take scholarly information, supported by scientific evidence to make such a large shift. Ironically, it will take the collaboration of willing organizations and social scientists to help make the change successfully.

    Aldridge, J.W. (2004). About change solutions. Encyclopedia of distributed learning. RetrievedFrom http://www.argospress.com/Resources/team-building/socitechnisistem.htm

    Shneiderman, B. (2008). Science 2.0. Retrieved from
    http://hcil.cs.umd.edu/trs/2008-42/2008-42.pdf

  6. Tommy says:

    The mindset of society needs to change. As a society we are getting further away from God and a Christian society. We are not standing up for our beliefs and letting the minority make decisions for our society. This country was founded under one God in who we place our trust. Now, God is being removed from schools, sporting events, and courthouses. The decisions makers need God’s guidance. As, Christians we need to stand up for our beliefs and not let the country go astray. God left us in charge of His flock and we should do our best to “feed” them. We need to change the attitude of society before it is too late.

  7. Amanda says:

    It is clear that the above organization has a vision to not only provide a good job to employees, but to take a step further and be intentional about caring for the families of those they employ. This is considered an organization whose priorities lie within an open system. Closed system organizations only function off internal sources. With this organization considering needs of their employees, and beyond that, their families, they are considered an open system.

    Valuing employees is another trend that is not often seen in the workplace. I have worked in several organizations where I felt that my needs as an employee were disregarded, or worse, that I was instantly replaceable. It is clear that this organization sees the work that is being done, and wants to reward the employees. This organization does not view their employees as dispensable, which is sadly, the reality of many organizations.

  8. Amanda says:

    This organization has it right! They have focused primarily on the employees as well as their product. They have a desire to provide full time jobs, to people who “have full time lives”. This is rare, especially in 2013. More often than not, we see organizations, such as retail, and more, who focus on hiring part time people so they do not have to pay benefits. Turn over rates must be sky high! I once worked in a position like this, and as a matter of fact, turn over was expected within the first 3 months.

    This organization also focuses on the quality of work from employees. They know that if the employee is respected and appreciated, the worker will be more effective and take pride in their work. I once worked in an organization that hired a huge flux of employees right before I left and I just knew that it was to boost numbers, but the way that the business methods were going, that meant, many of those newly hired employees would be let go in less than a year or two. There is clearly no value in the employee when the business model is set up this way. This organization knows that there is plenty of work to be done, and they do not want to hire temps, but instead, full time workers.

    Lastly, this organization has efforts to unite the family. This is almost unheard of in many organizations. My own organization allows for parental leave time, which I have never heard of as well, but it is clear the organization cares, not only for the employees, but their families.

  9. Amanda says:

    This organization has it right! They have focused primarily on the employees as well as their product. They have a desire to provide full time jobs, to people who “have full time lives”. This is rare, especially in 2013. More often than not, we see organizations, such as retail, and more, who focus on hiring part time people so they do not have to pay benefits. Turn over rates must be sky high! I once worked in a position like this, and as a matter of fact, turn over was expected within the first 3 months.

    This organization also focuses on the quality of work from employees. They know that if the employee is respected and appreciated, the worker will be more effective and take pride in their work. I once worked in an organization that hired a huge flux of employees right before I left and I just knew that it was to boost numbers, but the way that the business methods were going, that meant, many of those newly hired employees would be let go in less than a year or two. There is clearly no value in the employee when the business model is set up this way. This organization knows that there is plenty of work to be done, and they do not want to hire temps, but instead, full time workers.

    Lastly, this organization has efforts to unite the family. This is almost unheard of in many organizations. My own organization allows for parental leave time, which I have never heard of as well, but it is clear the organization cares, not only for the employees, but their families.

  10. sparrow2b says:

    When you make your employees happy, you’ll have a better company. Since they provided a predictable daily schedule and a permanent position, their employees are able to have a great work-life balance. If they didn’t offer that, it would be easy to see why they’d have a high churn rate of employees, dissatisfaction, and low morale. Who’d want to work for a company that only had season work and it’s a hell of season to push products out. As far as the owners, it makes all the sense because they’re able to project their monthly expenses and sales easier because it would be based on trends. There are so many companies out there that just do the bare minimum because they think it’s cost effective, but they’re really hurting themselves in the long run.

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