Organizations face massive challenges in attracting and retaining a high-quality and productive workforce. Companies are continually looking for new ways to keep their employees satisfied at all levels in order to harness greater productivity and ideas from people while keeping them motivated and happy. One real challenge examined earlier is the need to transform General Motors to be a much more productive and fully utilized organization by examining the hourly workforce. This is a great change from the traditional “us versus them” mentality of the past between management and the union.
Intrinsic and extrinsic types of motivation have been widely studied and the understanding of each has led to great changes in how organizations run their businesses. It is clear that hourly employees have many great extrinsic motivators but lack intrinsic motivation in their job assignments which is a characteristic of our work culture. Changing the culture is one of the keys to improving motivation at that level of the organization because the best motivation occurs when employees perform because they want to and not because they are being made to do so.
Basics of Motivation for Supervisors There are many kinds of motivation techniques that one can use when motivating salary and to a lesser extent hourly employees. Factors such as strong communication, added responsibility, achievement, recognition and advancement are all factors that can motivate employees. Due to the union environment it is difficult to motivate hourly employees but what always works well is providing recognition.
Sometimes that is done by just thanking employees for doing an outstanding job or giving them gift certificates to a store or restaurant for a job well done. Just spending time with each employee occasionally, keeping in mind the things that go on in their lives and listening to them goes a very long way towards keeping hourly workers motivated. Over the years I have sat down with many employees and listened to their issues at home with their families and sometimes major issues they are having with their children.
This time has often led to employees being more dedicated to my objectives as well as the organization’s objectives. General Motors ? GMS Recently we have recognized the need to utilize our hourly workforce more effectively which works to address the need to intrinsically motivate the hourly workforce. This has been achieved just recently by negotiating some ground-breaking agreements with the union that will change the way we do business. These all help managers find new ways to motivate staff and promote a new atmosphere amongst our hourly employees.
GM has been working on hard to utilize the entire organization with the implementation of the Global Manufacturing System (GMS). This is a rulebook on how every part of the organization is to conduct business. If a unit of the organization is not compliant to a minimum level of 90% it is possible that the unit will be closed and future product allocation will definitely be in jeopardy. The Global Manufacturing System includes five principles but the one that is having the greatest affect towards transforming the organization is the Principle of People Involvement.
People involvement outlines many different areas such as vision, values and health and safety priorities but the most critical area for changing the core of the business is in the team concept and the selection of a team leader. GMS calls for the development of self sustaining teams of five to eight hourly employees led by an hourly team leader. The difficulty for many years was to get the union buy into this concept and finally the union leaders have accepted the need to change and they have allowed the implementation of this team system.
The team is responsible for supporting the organization’s Ideas for Excellence program by submitting ideas and implementing them wherever possible. Successful ideas can receive financial awards up to $20,000. Another new item that helps remove some of the monotonous work that is performed is mandatory job rotation. Job rotation can benefit both the organization and the employee by increasing the individual skill set and motivation of each employee.
This can help the organization deal with absent employees more affectively and the team is also able to authorize team members’ time off without always having to ask a supervisor. This is revolutionary for any of the big three automakers and there is an agreed system to select team leaders apart from the traditional method of deciding based on seniority only. There are five main areas of testing hourly employees who wish to become team leaders: biographical screening, testing (mechanical, numerical, aptitude, psychological etc.
), assessment centre (hands on and group activities), interview and medical check. This is the bare minimum that must be performed to select a team leader. The business plan has been broken down from the plant level to department, shift and supervisor group. Most recently this business plan has been broken down to the team level. All the business plans are broken down into five categories: Safety, People, Quality, Responsiveness and Cost. These business plan boards at the team level are called level five boards and are reviewed bi-weekly by the team leader with his team.
This review highlights issues where the team is not meeting targets and drives problem solving which occurs weekly. For example, if a team member brings up a safety concern it must be resolved within 24 hours or it needs to be escalated to the middle manager’s level five board where it will be fixed immediately. Another example is if the team is not meeting the Responsiveness target, which encompasses mostly productivity numbers, the team will highlight issues or obstacles which are inhibiting them from reaching the set targets.
This usually results in having equipment repaired or resolving a quality issue that is creating a bottleneck. Before these self-lead teams were implemented, supervisors and managers had to deal with all of these issues with minimal input from the hourly workers, often wasting resources and time because the issues were not identified correctly. Now the hourly employees are dealing with the issues and directing resources that they understand and are closest too.
For the first time ever in the history of the corporation the shareholder and customer expectations are being examined at all levels of the organization. The Plant Manager is working toward the same targets as the hourly worker, the only difference is the Plant Manager is dealing with the entire pie and the team is working on a single slice. This has created greater shareholder and customer enthusiasm. Safety, productivity, efficiency and cost are all moving in the right direction while the hourly employees are feeling motivated and revitalized for the first time in decades.
All of this leads to enlarging the employee’s role and creating a sense of ownership for the measurables. This all adds to the tremendous financial incentives our organization utilizes to motivate its employees but adds a new element of intrinsic motivation. Support Systems The support system in place for GMS are tremendous at General Motors. There are experts within each principle in GMS who visit units within the company and perform audits as well as provide training courses to educate all levels of the organization.
The audits are performed yearly to ensure compliance and this is one of the many considerations when deciding upon plant closures as well as product allocation. There are GMS web resources available to all employees to read and learn from. One of the most important areas is local managements’ commitment to daily audits at all levels, from the Plant Manager to the front line Supervisor to ensure compliance and continuous improvement by involving our employees at all levels adding an ingrained element of intrinsic motivation within the work culture.
Conclusion One can have great confidence in the direction General Motors is taking by optimizing talent at all levels of the organization. The financials over the past couple of quarters have shown GM is turning the corner and as these types of processes are implemented the organization is moving from a traditional organization to a transformational one.
Another benefit to involving all levels of the organization, especially the hourly work force, is that it takes a lot of the pressure off of the front line supervisors as well as plant management as now all levels of the organization are working closer together with common goals to benefit the customer and shareholders. One of the biggest problems for GM has been the mentality of “us versus them” between management and the unionized employees.
It would be very nice to be able to add to this new structure a profit sharing or bonus plan for hourly workers but at this time we have been unsuccessful at negotiating such an agreement with the union leadership. Nevertheless, for the first time there is a partnership and all employees are working toward the same metrics, problem solving their way to achieving the targets that create customer and shareholder enthusiasm. There is no question that all individuals from the CEO to the hourly employees understand the need for continuous improvement.