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3 PLANT CULTURE The culture of a plant is a pattern of beliefs about what is right, important, or acceptable--also called values--shared by the people who work there. It is shaped by the plant's history, technology, and treatment of personnel. A plant's culture significantly influences managers' and employees' behavior. A plant with a culture in which cooperation and trust are important, for example, will have managers that share information with employees. Similarly, a plans 'n values about product quality will influence employees' views of what in acceptable workmanship. As described in the previous chapters, the effective introduction of advanced manufacturing technology has a pervasive effect on the organization. People are more interdependent, and human resource considerations are more likely to be an essential aspect of plans for implementing AMT. Existing plant culture can facilitate or impede that implementation. DECIDING TO CHANGE TEE CULTURE Before considering actions to change a plant'. culture, managers may wish to assess the present culture in a formal way--by interview or questionnaire. Asking employees what they think of the company's current values, assumptions, and practices--and what these featured should be to achieve the company 'a obJectives-- can help menage rat judge the time and scope of effort needed to change the culture. Further, by involving the employees, the assessment process may increase their receptiveness to efforts to change the culture. 21
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22 TABLE 4 Plant Cultural Change of_ _ _ Organizational Traditional Aspect Practice Shift to Practice Compatible With AMT Authority Base on position Decision making Locate close to the top Base on knowledge Locate close to required action Employee Limit knowledge Enhance knowledge contributions and skill and skill Information Closely control Share widely and use a number of media Rewards Reward individual Reward teamwork performance and collaboration Status Highlight Mute such differences in differences attire, parking eating facilities, and so on Supervision View supervisor View supervisor as as ~watchdog. resource
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23 Manager. at the plants visited varied in the degree to which they tried to change the cultures of their plants, or reinforce existing cultures, while implementing AMT. Companies whose managers consciously communicated their assumptions and values also had the most ambitious plans for introducing AMT. Table 4 shows the organizational aspects that managers most often tried consciously to change. The traditional practice is paired with the shift that plants undertook when they introduced AMT. Both greenfield sited and existing plants had adopted practices compatible with AMT. Further, some existing plants had cultures that encouraged innovative human resource practices independently of the introduction of new technology. CHANGE MECHANISMS Manager. can influence the Culture of a plant by communicating their assumptions and values to employees not only directly but implicitly, in the design of plant structure, operations, and decision-making procedures. Direct communication mechanisms include group meetings, films, video tapes, newspapers, bulletin boards, and personal letters. value Statement. Several of the plants visited had written statements about the values that were to guide the introduction of new technology. Theme value statements were a formal approach to direct communication of values. · The basic philosophy of management was developed while plant D was being planned. The philosophy was included in the employee handbook. · The original implementation team at plant C developed a set of principles based on trusting people and allowing them to use their full capabilities at work. The team wan also involved in translating these principles into hiring practices and work group procedures. · Plant L developed a statement of philosophy: alto provide an environment for employac involvement, an atmosphere of trust, of mutual respect and human dignity
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24 ~. . , _ so that we may achieve our common goals of high quality t mutual success, job security and effective community relationships. ~ Managers cited many practices in the plant that could be traced to the statement. · The manager of plant N articulated a Manifesto of values that was reinforced during training sessions Support groups were introduced to ensure that these principles could be practiced in the plant. Conveying Values Through Human Resource Practices Perhaps more important than the values communicated explicitly are those implicit in management behavior. All of the human resource practices described in this report convey, in some sense, managers' values. Managers can reinforce a new culture by redesigning the organiza- tion, jobs, and the compensation and appraisal system. Specific practices associated with redesign will be discussed in Chapter. 4 to 6. Similarly, employee selection, discussed in detail in Chapter 7, not only shape. the desired culture , but can be used to convey it. Some companies screen out many people during hiring interviews by being as explicit as possible about what would be expected of them. Some companies ask prospective employees to fill out question- naires to help determine how well they will mesh with the plant's culture. These selection procedures also offer employees an opportunity to make an informed choice as to whether they want to work in a particular plant. . · Employees were selected for assignment to plant N on the basis of their agreement with the manifesto of values developed by the plant manager. · m e application form for employment at plant C contained essay questions deigned to assess general work attitudes, behaviors, and capabilities. Other examples of communication of values include the following: · In plants M, N. and Q. the leader responsible for implementing ANT involved managers, workers, and, in unionized plants, union officials in the planning process. By asking the group to visit vendors and make recommendations on equipment, for example, the leader
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25 encouraged openness, rational decision making, partici- pation, and recognition of the dignity of the individual. · Managers at several plants (A, F. M, and Q) created or expanded employee involvement programs (e.g., quality circles or quality of working life programs). · At plant Q. the physical working conditions were improved and made more attractive as a prelude to the introduction of new technology. · Plants D, N. and Q promoted their new sense of plant culture by designing and distributing T-shirts that displayed the company's name. Managers can reinforce the desired culture by their responses to employee behavior. When managers observe a good example of the attitudes or actions they want to develop, for instance, they can focus attention on that example through some form of reward, such as special recognition or salary increases. · When an engineer or line production manager at plant Q discussed a problem with the plant manager, the latter would respond, That do the operators way about this?. or That do your maintenance craftsmen think?. Engineers and managers soon learned to consult those employees who had something to way about a decision and whose cooperation was needed to implement it. e In another company, a top manager sent personal notes each week to employees who exemplified aspects of the desired culture. Each note wan warm, personal, and filled with praise. milt activity required about 1 hour per week, but over time had an important impact on the formation of the desired culture. BENEFITS AND RISES OF CHANGING A CULTURE Plants that consciously change their cultures to complement new technology are more likely to have a committed and multiskilled work force, lower turnover, and higher return on their investment in AMT. Changing a culture, however, can be a slow, difficult process. In particular, the change from a traditional authoritarian culture to a participative one can cause uncertainty and unrealistic expectations. Communication in a traditional plant culture is usually in one direction--from managers to employees.
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26 _ Changing to open two-way communications can be inhibited by mistrust between managers and employees. Employees will not accept a manager's explanations of proposed new values and norms until the words are backed by deeds. When the cultural change i. extreme, a considerable period of demonstrated consistency between the manager's espoused beliefs and actual behavior will be needed. Even after explanations of the new values are accepted, managers and employees will need to learn new skills to make the transition from an authoritarian to a participative culture. A participatory work culture requires social skills related to leadership style, goal netting, problem solving, conflict resolution, decision making processes, conduct of meetings, and role clarification. Such skills are not easily acquired, especially by managers and employees with traditional backgrounds. Training in this area is complex, and classroom instruction by itself i. inadequate. People do not change values, norms, and behaviors overnight, so cultural-change objectives are reached gradually. Indeed, some may never be realized to everyone's satisfaction. Further, some employees may find that the need to change social an well as technical skills increases job pressure. Some managers and employees who are successful in the traditional work culture will not be able to adapt to the new culture. Managers and employees who do not fit can be very unhappy and disruptive. Such problems can be avoided wore easily in greenfield plants than in existing ones because potential employees can be told clearly what will be expected of them. Those who think they would not like to work in a participative system can opt not to do so. In existing plants, top managers who clearly communi- cate their commitment to creating a participative system may convince all employees to try to adapt. Patience and education may eventually convert those who initially reject the change. If not, many organizations can find a useful niche for most managers and workers who are unable to adapt to the new culture. Options for doing so should be considered in the implementation plan.
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