And Sports, One-On-One
On The High Seas
Develop Formula For Multinational Teamwork
Statistics For Full-Time Results
Wanted: Must Be Team Player, Success Minded
by Peter Block
Change Key To Org. Change
by Cathy Kramer
Business News Briefs
for a Change
Wanted: Must Be Team Player, Success-Minded
You're a quality engineer at a large manufacturing facility.
You've just heard through the company grapevine that there's going to be
more downsizing and rightsizing. Employee morale is already an issue at
your plant. And yet, in your position, the company's senior management expects
you to continue to foster quality improvement. What are your limited options?
Companies faced with these questions have a new answer.
Wayne Tindle, principal engineer of total quality at Alcatel, started thinking
'out of the box' and came up with programs that draft volunteer facilitators
and trainers from within a company.
The Raleigh, N.C., site of Alcatel Network Systems, a manufacturer
of equipment used in central offices of telephone companies, has adopted
a unique strategy for facilitation and training. Alcatel recruits existing
employees to fill the roles of part-time facilitators and instructors that
spend 10-15 percent of their time in these roles and the remainder in their
regular jobs. Alcatel's strategy has produced benefits for individual employees
and positive bottom-line improvements for the company.
In the Beginning...
In 1991 Alcatel only had eight quality improvement teams, one facilitator
and one training instructor. Five years later there were over 70 teams,
33 part-time facilitators and 10 part-time instructors. The number of quality
improvement teams could not have been expanded without the use of facilitators
and trainers. By using part-time facilitators and instructors Alcatel filled
these new positions with existing employees, not with new full-time employees
or external consultants. Through the use of this volunteer support system,
Tindle maintains, "the teams have been the foundation of Alcatel's
continuous improvement program. They've helped the company win numerous
The use of part-time facilitators and training instructors
has resulted in many benefits, both for employees and the company. New benefits
for employees include:
o Exposure to new skills through training and
o Improved opportunities/responsibilities
o Increased visibility to a broader segment of the
company - more opportunities within the company
Benefits for the entire company also resulted from the
new program. These included:
o Better understanding of the company culture
o Increased employee morale
o Reduced overall cost by utilizing existing staff for new positions
Alcatel's Framework for Facilitation
The structure at Alcatel focuses on Continuous Improvement Teams (CIT) which
are composed of 6-9 employees within one department, one functional area,
or they can be cross-functional. Alcatel CIT's:
o Incorporate employee leadership and a facilitator for permanent teams.
o Set goals linked to company objectives.
o Are empowered to implement improvements -
the teams are self-directed.
In a traditional environment, facilitators would be brought
in to guide these CIT's. But Alcatel took the idea of Continuous Improvement
Teams one step further with the introduction of Continuous Improvement Facilitator
Teams (CIFT). This team is the pool from which part-time volunteer facilitators
are selected to guide teams. The purpose of the facilitation team is to
provide facilitation, consulting and implementation assistance for the CIT's.
CIFT's are composed of volunteers, both hourly and salaried employees, who
undergo screening for facilitation positions.
Members of the facilitator team go through extensive training
including courses on: The Quality Advantage, Communication & Group Dynamics,
Continuous Improvement Skills, Problem-Solving Process, Team Building and
Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
Once a team member completes their training for the facilitation
team, they are ready to begin spending 10-15 percent of their time guiding
CIT's. Tindle recommends certain guidelines when assigning facilitators:
o A facilitator does not facilitate a team in his/her own area. This helps
ensure objectivity and less involvement of the facilitator in the actual
problem solving by the team.
o Assign a facilitator to teams that form a customer/supplier relationship;
the facilitator then can be a common element between the teams, enhancing
communication and cooperation.
o Consider the facilitator's background, skills, characteristics, etc. For
example, support teams have more difficulty developing measures for improvement
than manufacturing teams; therefore, a person with good analytical skills
would be an asset to a support team.
What's Good for the Facilitator is Good for the Trainer
Along with its part-time facilitator program, Alcatel also uses a part-time
instructor program. The driving forces and benefits for using part-time
instructors are the same as those for using part-time facilitators; however,
the scope of the program is much narrower and easier to coordinate and control.
Like facilitators the instructors are volunteers and are supported by management
to commit 10-15 percent of their time to conduct
training courses they choose to conduct. The ability to choose is key because
to be an effective instructor, an individual has to buy into what they teach,
demonstrate enthusiasm for the content and have the background to obtain
credibility from the class. The evaluations of instructors since the beginning
of the program support this company philosophy of choice.
What Makes It Tick
"The success of this part-time program depends upon the commitment
of the facilitators and their management," insists Tindle. "Without
this commitment, the volunteer approach wouldn't work." The time commitment
is four hours per week (one hour meeting time and one hour outside the meeting
for two teams) and volunteers are expected to commit for one year. Considering
the amount of training invested in this new role, any smaller commitment
would hurt the program and make it more expensive.
According to Tindle, "the advantages of this program
far exceed the disadvantages. The growth and development of employees -
and the opportunity to add variety to their jobs - increase their value
to Alcatel and to themselves," he stressed. "For example, one
hourly employee moved from a CIT member to team leader, to facilitator,
to instructor, and is presently in a salaried position as a training coordinator."
Tindle offers the following advice: "If your company,
like many in the '90's, is consumed with downsizing, rightsizing, displacements
and layoffs, there's still hope for quality improvement! There were a lot
of pitfalls and lessons learned at Alcatel. I think we're a better company
today because of the approach we took. It was not easy."