Faith In Your Future
It To The Public
Marriage Of Convenience
A Marriage of Convenience
"We were treated like mushrooms. Fed manure and kept
in the dark."
The introduction of self directed work teams into the organizational structure of the plant spearheaded system-wide change that saw improvements in morale, decision making, job satisfaction and productivity. These bottom-line results have been met with cheers throughout the plant, a major producer of fiberglass and insulation.
Good Thing It Wasn't a Popularity Contest
Jim Myers, training coordinator, recalls comments that
were overheard regarding self directed work teams - "Union leaders
working with management to implement work teams...impossible," and
"TQM and self directed work teams are just new ways to break the union."
"The only difference between this place and the Titanic," Trozzo recalled, "was that the Titanic had booze and a band." So Trozzo began exploring options. Attending business conferences Trozzo met others who had improved manufacturing plants through the use of self directed teams. The idea seemed like a lifesaver capable of turning around a plant that had strived for over three decades operating with a top-down hierarchy.
"I had nothing to loose," Tozzo says, referring
to the concept of self directed teams. "We had already lost half of
our workforce. I was going for anything to help the workers." Soon,
Trozzo wasn't alone. Other union leaders, Myers and Mark Westman soon embraced
the idea and the push for self directed work teams was on.
All Aboard! Training, Training and a Little More Training.
"We spent more than we could have imagined," Myers stated. To help the change effort external consultants were brought in and the butterfly began to break out of its cocoon. In 1990 a steering team experimented further with self directed teams and 1991 saw the introduction of a pilot team in the plant's warehouse. Then the snowball gained momentum. By 1993 two more departments were running self directed teams and in 1997 work teams were operating plant-wide on every shift.
But What Were the Results?
Employees began forming long-term ties to their jobs. With this new long-term perspective, plant policies were easier to implement and gained the support of the whole plant, not just management. With all this system-wide long term interest in the organization, the Santa Clara plant developed a long-term future.
Still, as with any union-management relationship, conflicts arise. But an atmosphere of empowerment helps with conflict resolution. "An atmosphere of respect and trust works out these conflicts quicker and better," Trozzo says.
So after thwarting a takeover attempt, then deciding to introduce a new organizational culture and then investing a significant dollar and time investment, the Owens Corning Santa Clara Plant has persevered. The plant now boasts increased decision making and productivity - the results of an unusual relationship between a union and management.