John Amasi has established self-directed teams [SDT] at his Corpus Christi plant to allow for the betterment of the product and allow for employee decision making. The use of SDT’s has been used throughout different industries with great success. John hoped to use this same approach in his plastic pipe manufacturing plant, while hoping to achieve the same results as the other industries. Problems with the self-directed teams begin to arise and John, along with plant manager Jay Winslow, knew that things needed to change. What had occurred in the Corpus Christi plant was too much empowerment for the employee. Employees were allowed to make decisions on how to improve the process and product, but they were also allowed to make decisions on such things as when to work, how much overtime to work, vacation days, and how much they would be paid. Hard line boundaries had to be drawn and employees had to follow these rules. If John didn’t do something to help him reach his goal of 95% design capacity, then the employees would continue to change things to benefit themselves while hurting the company; leading to a sense of entitlement from the employee (Collins and Garvin, 2009). Giving employees a right to decide how is improve floor level processes is great for the company, but allowing them to make decisions related to personal issues such as time off and pay only hurts the company. Boundaries are the key to improved success at the plant and must be implemented and accepted by both the employees and management for them to be effective. BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Under RL Wolfe, a $350 million dollar plastic pipe manufacturing company, John Amasi, director of Production and Engineering, wanted to implement self-directed teams [SDT] at his Corpus Christi plant. The Corpus Christi plant was purchased from Moon Plastics in 2003, retooled, and back online in 2004 with a design capacity of 2,250 tons of polyethylene pipe per year. With three plants throughout the United States, Amasi wanted to take a different approach toward employee involvement and increase the plants design capacity to 95%. Plants located in Austin, TX and Columbus, OH had a current design capacity of 65%-70%. From current reports throughout different industries---food and beverage, consumer goods---Amasi was able to discover that there was a 30% to 40% improvement rate in production and quality from self-directed run units. The Corpus Christi plant is a 300,000 square-foot facility that runs 4 extrusion lines, 24 hours a day, over 3 shifts. Each shift consists of 27 workers who have various tasks, such as bringing raw material to the hoppers, running lines, and transporting pipe away from the finishing lines (Collins and Garvin, 2009). Unionized workers were employed in both the Austin and Columbus plants, while the Corpus Christi plant remained un-unionized. John Amasi lured in Jay Winslow from Wolfe’s top competitor to become plant manager at Corpus Christi. Through the implementation of SDT’s both men hoped to see a workforce who would continuously improve processes while meeting the goal of 95% design capacity. Through the establishment of job definitions, hiring, team setup and responsibilities, and the role of the coordinator, SDT’s began to take shape and in 2007, the Corpus Christi plant began to see the success and disappointments the teams had generated (Collins and Garvin, 2009). PROBLEM
In his book Stewardship, Peter Block states, “At the heart of entitlement is the belief that the employee needs are more important than the business (Prosser, 2005, p.5). The case study, RL Wolfe: Implementing Self-Directed Teams, displays various issues that arise from self-directed teams. One major issue that stands out is the lack of boundaries given to the employees at the Corpus Christi plant. A lack of boundaries can over time lead an individual to feel a sense of entitlement. As Collins and Garvin (2009) point out in the case study one employee...
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