ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum


December 1997

Articles

Whole Foods Includes Whole Self
Capitalizing on Human Resources Encourages Growth at Whole Foods Market

Making Waves With Employee Recognition
Rewards and Recognition Practices at Sea World

Honeywell's High Flying Division Shows Company The Way To Participation
Union-Management Relations Help Airplane Part Manufacturer Excel



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Freedom's Just Another Word
by Peter Block

Highs and Lows Of Participation
by Cathy Kramer


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Honeywell's High Flying Division Shows Company The Way To Participation

They make the navigation systems that help our nation's airplanes get to their destinations on time. They were also the first division in Honeywell to undertake the process of forming a partnership between management and labor. Today, after a sixteen year journey, Honeywell's Commercial Aviation Systems-Sensor Products Operation (CAS-SPO) Division, is showing the rest of the company how to forge a truly participative relationship between union and management.
CAS-SPO's story begins in the late 1970s when American manufacturing's productivity and quality were on the decline. Foreign competitors were producing better quality products at a lower price. Honeywell decided that in order to survive it had to change the way it did business.

CAS-SPO designs and manufactures navigation systems for commercial and business aircraft. CAS-SPO's navigation systems help airplane pilots determine their flight paths and reach their destinations on time. The company's major customers include Boeing, McDonnell Douglas and Airbus. One-third of CAS-SPO's employees are members of Teamsters Local 1145. The division faced the typical union/management adversarial relationship. Management wanted employees more involved in the business and the union's priority was job security.

Just beginning the process of union and management participation seemed overwhelming. Their first task was to conduct an Employee Opinion Survey among hourly employees. The survey's results highlighted several areas of concern:

o Lack of top management visibility on the factory floor.
o Lack of emphasis on safety.
o A slow suggestion system.
o Poor quality food in the cafeteria.
o Inequities in parking.

Some of the issues uncovered had major implications, others simply meant changing the food service supplier. "Once the workers could see that management was going to take their input seriously, our mindset began to change," said Dave Holten, a tool designer and member of Teamsters Local 1145 who has been instrumental in implementing the teaming environment at CAS-SPO.

A Watershed Event
1982 brought the first of what CAS-SPO refers to as "watershed events" in the effort to forge participation -
a meeting of company and union officials that became known as "the Arrowwood experience." This meeting was successful in raising awareness of the competitive pressures the company was facing in the marketplace. In discussing "quality," the group focused on two areas: quality of product and quality of worklife. "From Arrowwood, we adopted a philosophy that quality products are made in a quality work environment," said Holten.

CAS-SPO followed the "Arrowwood experience" with a program called Total Involvement of People (TIP) in the mid-eighties. Its aim was getting more involvement of employees in decisions affecting their jobs and fostering greater cooperation among all employees. Team building activities were held to help better understand the team process. Economic growth throughout the country resulted in phenomenal growth and opportunity for CAS-SPO in the mid-eighties. For the first time, employees could clearly see how union and management participation could effect the business for the better. However, the early 1990's economic downturn threatened the advances CAS-SPO had made into establishing a solid union/management partnership. Although the division faced a reduction in workforce from 1100 in 1991 to 500 in 1995, CAS-SPO rededicated their efforts towards maintaining and improving the partnership foundation.

A second "watershed event" for CAS-SPO took place in 1991 with the introduction of a new manufacturing system called Demand Flow Manufacturing (DFM). DFM relied on eliminating the line inspection process and introduced Just In Time (JIT) to the factory. DFM provided dramatic improvements due to employee involvement and flexibility. Employees were asked to learn each other's jobs and take on more work after the significant reduction in the number of plant employees. This concept was a painful adjustment to the remaining workers who worried that the company would face more job cuts as a result of the labor/management team concept.

However, by involving the union in devising ways to bring new business into the plant, the team atmosphere was maintained. CAS-SPO workers found that working together and making tough decisions as a team helped the company prosper in down times. The team concept was continuing to be reinforced throughout the tough economic times of the early 1990's.

Another "watershed event" occurred in 1993. Believing that labor/management teams were an existing strength within the organization, CAS-SPO felt it had yet to unleash the full power of teams. The Business Leadership Team, composed of top union and management personnel, constructed a Workforce Strategies Team with many sub-teams to focus on specific issues within the company and speed up the pace of change. One sub-team, dubbed the Future of Teaming, was charged with developing the roadmap for CAS-SPO to achieve world-class "teaming" by 1995. After extensive research the group developed a concept called "co-managed teaming."

Co-Managed Work Teams Take Over
January 1, 1995 is a date in CAS-SPO's history that few will forget. It brought the organization a new structure that included seven key business processes and consisted of 52 "co-managed work teams." Each employee was assigned to one of the 52 teams. Each team was assigned a coach to assist teams through the transition period and prepare them to be a fully functional co-managed work team.

The process had some initials bumps along the way because employees were not sure what types of decisions they were empowered to make and feared the responsibility that goes along with making tough decisions. The decisions facing the new teams included manpower planning, work area arrangements and process improvements. More decisions were added as the teams matured.
Because not all team members were pleased with this new responsibility, frustrations and fear were high, and success was slow in coming. The key was developing new ways of getting the work done and increasing employee flexibility. Employees discovered that team success greatly depended on the participation and contribution from each team member.

After the first year of co-managed teaming, one essential finding was that they could move more quickly with the transition if their internal recognition efforts were increased. A Recognition Team was established to suggest ways for team and individual recognition to support the co-managed team environment. Two important outcomes from the Recognition Team were: the "Cause for Applause" award which allows one team to recognize another team or individual for outstanding service; and the "Manufacturing Excellence Forum" which allows teams to report on their goals and accomplishments each quarter and be recognized for their results.

Today, CAS-SPO sees room for improvement in the co-managed team concept including continuing to raise employee understanding of the business, especially in the area of cost reduction. Management and labor feel that increased training will be required as people are expected to be even more flexible and versatile. After living the process for sixteen years, Annette McEnelly, an 18-year Honeywell veteran and current CAS-SPO team advisor, boils it down to three key elements: "We must continue to recognize people, realize that relationships are critical to getting the desired results, and that working in partnership will result in satisfied customers."

"Even though our team concept continues to change and evolve over time, CAS-SPO's core values never change. We are committed to delivering world class solutions to our customers; we recognize that the entire workforce has something important to contribute; and that performance for our customers is vital," said Annette McEnelly.
CAS-SPO's sixteen-year journey has resulted in dramatic improvements in their quality acceptance rate, product cycle time and cost savings. This high flying division of Honeywell has forged a path to participation for the rest of the company to follow.

December '97 News for a Change | Email Editor
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