Ted Richardson leads the 14 employees of the assembly team, a multi skilled team whose members work in various sub groupings and alone, depending on the product they’re assembling. They have worked together for 26 months without any problems, and their work has always been of good quality and their productivity and team spirits high,
Jim Johnson, one of the longer serving members of the group, was an especially good employee. In fact, Ted recommended him for a team leader vacancy that opened up in a different part of the factory. His recommendation was accepted, and although the team was sorry to see Jim leave, they were happy about his promotion,
Ted is still angry as he relates the following story to his family at dinner.
‘When Jim left, I made several changes in the team. I shifted a few duties around and hired a new employee named Elizabeth Jennings.
‘Things seemed to be settling back to normal, but this morning all hell broke loose. The team rejected 23% of its output because of poor quality, an all time high. Accusations started flying. Several people blamed the poor quality on Elizabeth Jennings but three of the women came to Elizabeth’s defence. Some of the men accused the women of sticking together and not putting the blame where it lay.
‘At this point, I stepped in and told the group that if both quality and quantity of output did not improve, I would replace everyone! They settled down, but I could see they were still upset.
‘Later that afternoon, tempers flared and employees on other teams even stopped their work to watch all the commotion. I moved and ordered everyone back to work, standing by to make sure they followed my orders. They did, but reluctantly, and finished off the last 45 minutes of the day. Afterwards, some of the old hands told me that they couldn’t work under such tension and would be “up and off” if I didn’t do something.
‘It all happened because I worked to get a promotion for one of my best employees.’
Ted lapses into silence, wondering what his best course of action would be. How could things have gone so wrong so suddenly?
1. Analyse the factors you believe led to the problems in the assembly team.
2. To what stage in its life cycle does the assembly team seem to have regressed? Is the trouble Elizabeth Jennings’ fault? If not, then whose fault is that?
3. Explain, what specific steps can Ted take to help his team though this crisis?
4. What should Ted have done when Elizabeth first joined the team?