Last updated: June 24, 2019
Topic: BusinessCompany
Sample donated:

Logs and Lumber Packaging Analysis

The Packaging department at Logs and Lumber consists of two formal groups, referred to as crews in the organization.  One is the morning shift and the other is the afternoon shift.  As a formal work group, however, they lack the traditional supervision.  The lack of supervision is leading to extended breaks, leaving early, and a lack of accountability for productivity and quality.  I believe this is the primary reason for the differences in productivity levels between Packaging and the other departments in Logs and Lumber.

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I believe both shifts are in the Norming stage.  They have developed a social consensus to do what works for the good of the group, not the good of the task or the organization.  The extended lunch and coffee breaks, and leaving early, demonstrate that they do not feel accountable for their time.  Perhaps this is leading to a slowdown in productivity to intentionally produce overtime work (and overtime pay).  That, however, is a speculation.

I don’t believe that group size has any effect on their productivity.  Time and motion studies show that the existing group should be able to complete the work without overtime, and the addition of temporary workers does not seem to help.  However, I would question when the studies were done.  New equipment has increased productivity in the other departments, and it is possible that new equipment in Packaging may lead to productivity gains.

Group norms and behaviors are definitely an issue.  Temporary employees are indoctrinated very quickly into taking extended breaks and leaving early.  The norms of the group need to be examined and management needs to reinforce the values of the organization.

Supervision should be increased, and constant feedback should be incorporated.  That requires the organization to hire two supervisors to directly oversee the Packaging department.  They cannot be supervised on an occasional basis.  They need strong leadership, vision, and some direction.

One possible solution would be for the organization to set up a competition between the two shifts.  Recognition and a reward, like a monthly pizza party, could be used to urge one group to higher productivity levels, which should spur the other group to achieve similar levels.

Another possible solution would be to divide the group into smaller teams.  If you streamline the processes performed, each shift could potentially have two teams, which would set up a competitive environment similar to that discussed above.

Improving communication with the two shifts could create a drastic change as well.  It is possible that the Packaging department just does not understand the importance of their role, and/or the ineffectiveness of their department.  Lack of leadership and supervision may be exacerbating the problem.  Management could share customer complaints, and praises of other departments, as well as quality metrics, with everyone in the company.  This could lead to “pride in ownership” which could lead to productivity gains.