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5 JOB DESIGN The introduction of advanced manufacturing technology offers an opportunity for companies to reexamine job design in their plants. In the 1970s, many companies started this reexamination, whether or not they were introducing new technology, because they recognized that jobs designed in traditional ways failed to motivate employees to do their best. Many of the changes intro- duced at that time, such as work teams and multiskilled workers, led to increased productivity and employee motivation in plants that introduced little or no new technology. Manager. who did not redesign jobs during the earlier period may now be able to appreciate the potential value of these innovations when used with AMT. When these innovations are used along with the introduction of AMT, especially computer-aided manufacturing, they can be even more effective than when used with traditional teabnol- ogy. Many of the plants visited by the committee used the introduction of new technology as an opportunity to introduce the job design innovations discussed above, as well as to innovate further. IMPLICATIONS OF ANT FOR JOB DESIGN CRI=RIA Advanced manufacturing technology in taking over many of the discrete and repetitive activities that workers previously performed. Activities of this type that workers continue to perform (e.g., loading and unloading a machine) are required at less frequent intervals. They are being replaced by such activities as adjusting or stopping a machine when it in not doing what it was designed to do, or notifying maintenance or supervisory 35
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36 personnel when a problem exists. The need for such activities is unpredictable, so the worker must be constantly alert to how the machines are performing. Knowing what action to take requires diagnosis, which calls for information sharing and problem solving among workers and maintenance and supervisory personnel. The more integrated the types of advanced manufacturing technology, the more important it is for each worker to be alert, share information, and act quickly. With traditional technologies, close supervision can partially compensate for a lack of internal motivation among those who are asked to perform repetitive, short- cycle activities. Close supervision does not work, however, with the new technologies that require alertness and problem solving. The premium on internal motivation increases as the technology increasingly requires intellectual rather than physical effort and fewer workers to produce the same output. The shortcomings of job design criteria that have been used for 7S years are not as obvious with traditional technologies an with AMT. Theme criteria lead to designing jobs by drawing boundaries around sets of discrete activities and assigning one job per worker. The boundaries are often drawn so that no worker is idle while another is busy and so that the amount of skill required for each job is limited. With the new technol- ogies, workers need broader skills, their activities do not fall neatly within consistent boundaries, and workers without sufficiently broad skills can cause expensive down-time and repairs. Companies are still exper imenting with approaches to job design that will best complement ANT, but the underlying philosophy t~ clear. New jobs need to be designed no that they (1) identify the boundaries that distinquish one job from another, even though such boundaries are more open than before, (2) reflect the contributions that workers can make to the production process, and (3) motivate workers to make these contributions. FEWER JOB CLASSIFICATIONS The committee found a decrease in the number of job classifications used at nearly every existing site that introduced new technology. For every greenfield site that could be compared to an existing similar plant with
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37 conventional technology, the greenfield site had fewer cLa~if ications. The new technology is conducive to fewer job classif ications. The activities created by ANT, for example, as well as those that remain after eliminating some of the repetitive, short-cycle activities, are much alike, such as monitoring and maintenance. Less need exists, therefore, to differentiate between jobs made up of similar activities in different part. of the factory. When more people have the came classification and are capable of performing the same activities, managers have greater flexibility in assigning people where needed in the factory. Also, the administration of the wage system is simpler. Sites where job classification. were reduced with the introduction of new technology include the following: · A unionized automobile components plant (M), with a 360 million flexible manufacturing system (FMS), planned to have three hourly job classifications, two skilled and one unskilled. In a unionized assembly plant (I) of the same company, job classifications were reduced from 200 to 34. · An engine plant (C) had only two job clas~ifica- tions, resource and ~technicians.. · A manufacturer of military vehicle components (plant D), with an FMS, had one job classification, system operator, which was equivalent to the highest machine operator in other departments. · A nonunion plant (N) of an electronics company had fewer job classification. after introducing ANT, with one department going from seven job classifications to just one. As further examples of reductions in job classifica- tions, committee member. offered the following: · An aerospace company with 530 employees at ~ unionized plant (R1) eliminated 39 classifications. Another of its unionized plants (R2) with 95 employees went from 20 to 5 classifications. At its nonunion plant (R3), the work was structured into five versatile and flexible classifications. · An engine company with a nonunion plant (SI) structured its manufacturing, maintenance, and support work into seven job classifications for 550 hourly employees. Its new unionized plant (S2) had five job
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38 f classification. for 4SO hourly workers. Another of its unionized plants (S3), which contains a SS5 million EMS, planned to have just three versatile job classif ications for 100 employees. BROADENED SCOPE OF WOR:Y AND MUI`TIP~E SKILLS Reducing the number of classifications was almost always accompanied by broadening the scope of activities in each classification. Typically, job classifications were associated with increased skills, either by increas- ing the number of machines or the territory for which workers were responsible, or by systematically rotating workers through a number of different jobs. Broadening the scope of work can offer two advantages: reducing overhead costs by transferring functions from support personnel to direct labor, and combining jobs to minimize waiting time for services. It is difficult to justify machines sitting idle, for example, while waiting for a maintenance worker to perform simple maintenance. Workers whose jobs are not redefined when ANT is .mplemented are likely to have too little to do. Workers with one machine each, for example, may have too much idle time after many of their activities are automated. Providing workers with multiple skill. so that ansign- ments can be broadened can help eliminate that problem. An will be seen in Chapter 8, jobs can be designed no that both managers and workers benef it. Managers gain f legibility and better use of workers. meaningful work, usually at higher pay. i Workers gain more The new job titles reflect the broader range of workers' skills as well as the general nature of their contributions to the production process. Common titles in plants with AMT are system operator, cell manager, system technician, automated factory mechanic, operating technician, owner operator, and system attendant. Examples of broadening the scope of work include these additional responsibilities taken on by machine operators: routine machine maintenance and service: greasing chucks, oiling machines, maintaining coolant conditions, and performing housekeeping tacker ~ simple troubleshooting and debugging (short of machine controller electronics); ~ staple NC Chine program~ings
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39 · increased responsibility for quality: in-proces~ inspection and statistical process control, with emphasis on prevention of discrepancies instead of detection after the f act: · tool grinding and repair; and · increased decision making on scheduling and machine use. Underlying these trends are changes not only in tech- nology, but in managers' views of workers' capabilities. The managers interviewed generally thought that many workers, even without additional training, could do more than they have been asked to do. They could, for example, apply skills they use outside of work (such as home repairs or automobile maintenance) to their jobs. Managers do not yet know the degree of challenge and responsibility that workers are willing and able to accept. To the extent that workers want to undertake training and develop new abilities, management's role is to challenge and motivate them. The managers interviewed recognized that not every worker wants responsibility and challenge. Some lack capabilities; others would find change difficult after years under the current system. The consensus, however, was that most would welcome change and challenge. One manufacturing executive (plant S3) emphasized the importance of explicit consideration of job design and broadened scope of work. Looking back on the company 'a IS-year experience as a leader in direct numerical control (DNC), he commented: land to think that we ignored all human resource angles except basic training. We just superimposed NC and DNC on the traditional setup with little consideration of job enrichment. We even introduced expensive NC and DNC equipment into a plant with piecework incentive pay without any consideration of simultaneous multiple machine operation or other job enrichment. We were either lacking in imagination or too timid to rock the boat and try something new. We achieved some benefits, but not as much for the company or its workers as was possible.. After deciding to broaden the scope of work and have multiskilled workers, plant S3 and many of the plants visited derived considerably greater benefits from ANT, as shown in the following examples: · In the previous 2 years, the plant manager of a 2,100 person manufacturing operation (S3) had reduced
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40 1 the number of inspectors by SO--and had achieved better quality at less cost--by increasing operators' responsi- bilities for quality. Because the change was made during a period of growth, inspectors were reduced only by attrition. · When workers in a unionized engine plant (S3) said that they could and would like to run several NC machines each, instead of only one, management not only agreed but paid generous suggestion awards and no workers were laid off. That unit wan being set up as a team without a foreman. · A number of semiskilled tasks--parts and tool staging, certain setups, routine maintenance, and shipping and receiving--were grouped into one job classification in plant S3. The purpose was to increase job quality and make the job more interesting. At a higher classification in the same plant, the job of automated factory mechanic included machining skills, coordinate Teaser ing setups , and sophisticated mach ine diagnosis and repair. · A nonunion plant (G) of an electronics equipment company created an downer operator. job title. With AMT, owner operators had a -treater range of ~kills. They were responsible for quality and throughput at one or more machines and contributed to cost reduction. The machine and its immediate environment constituted a snail factory; owner operators ran their own work stations and took pride in owning as well as operating them. O At a unionized components plant (M) of an auto- mobile company, the unskilled and semiskilled work was made multi~killed by including these tasks: monitor and maintain equipment performancet maintain tool setups; receive, distribute, organize, and audit inventories; repackage vendor materiales and perform minor maintenance and housekeeping. e In an electronic. equipment company (plant A), the midakilled machine controller assigned to automated lines combined sophisticated operating skills with an increas- ing number of maintenance ~kills. · A number of companies were cross-training their highly skilled crafts people into a common multi~killed work force. An assembly plant (I) of an automobile company reported a consequent large increase in esprit de corps among its skilled trades. At another company, the maintenance technicians were expected to take on more engineering skills.
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41 WORK TEAMS A work team is responsible for a clearly identi f fable part of a product or a major part of a process. Jobs for teams are usually open-ended, allowing team members to assign and coordinate jobs. With relatively few rules and regulations, team members are given discretion in pursuing the team's goals. The supervisors facilitate the team's work and provide technical assistance. Many of the sites visited used teams, but their approaches varied. In some organizations, each team had a supervisor; in others, where teams had more self- management, an individual supervisor was responsible for several teams. The use of work teams gives team members practice in decision making and a greater appreciation of what the management function entails. Members develop and exercise interpersonal skills for solving problems, building consensus, planning, and resolving conflicts. They may find that performing and coordinating the jobs assigned to a team offers greater challenge and involve- ment than performing any one job alone. Finally, because the team is assigned an identifiable part of the product or process, members more clearly see the relationship between a specific job and a larger goal. · A new components plant (M) of an automobile company was planning to implement a shift operation group of 20 hourly employees--twelve system attendants, four machine repair workers, and four electricians--backed up by a maintenance engineer and a quality engineer on each shift, plus one factory control administrator. Four zones, each with four or five different machine func- tions, would each have a team. Efforts were under way to develop team spirit for the entire group. e A plant (C) of an engine company divided the shop-floor work force into about 20 teams of ~technicians,. with 20 to 30 workers per team. The teams had different, evolving styles an all teams approached self-management. Almost all had informal team leaders, some rotating the post among members. Some teams met daily, and some met weekly to discuss problems. The work in each team had been analyzed and divided into 30 to 50 modules per team. Teem members were expected to learn and progress in mastering the modules over the years.
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42 · A manufacturer of military vehicle components (plant D) had S to 20 workers per team with a team manager who acted as a facilitator. The degree of self-management varied with the skill of the manager/ facilitator. · An engine plant (S4) had a Elf-managing multi- skilled work force called Teas A in each of several shop operation categories. Team A interacted with, but was not supervised by, a Smaller multiskilled Team B of personnel from manufacturing and support functions such as quality. Team members rotate between tasks and, in some companies, between shifts. In a number of companies with FMS, for example, the lower skilled .aystem attendants,. .aystem technicians,. and .stagers. were rotated among tasks to minimize boredom and maintain their skills. Other approaches include the following: · At a unionized plant (M), workers were required to rotate between jobs at fixed intervals to ensure that they developed and maintained the multiple skills for which they were receiving higher pay. · At an electronics equipment company (plant A) , the five operators on the automated logic unit line rotated responsibilities for different facets of the line, especially one task regarded as tedious. Each team member was a master of particular aspects of the system, a special expertise to be called on to deal with difficult problems. ~ A machine tool company (plant P) had a team of workers to run its FMS cells. Each Member was respon- ~ible for the unit, not just for one machine, as in the past. They were concerned with a complex of machines and described themselves as having the new and exciting role of Machine managers.. In addition, the programmers were located behind a glass wall through which they could see the machines they program, in order to increase their familiarity with the machines and machine menage ret WORRER INVOLVEMENT At most of the sites visited, the new jobs were supplemented by improved cam~unication and a new approach to management. Workers were expected to participate regularly with supervisors in establishing procedures and
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43 improving operations, quality, and the work environment. The following examples were observed: · Employees who would be working in an automobile components plant (M) were asked to review the lighting system and recommend changes in the plant engineer's plan. Their extensive recommendations were adopted. They were also asked to decide which of the three shifts would be unstaffed (nobody on the shop floor). They chose the second shift. · An engine company (plant O) held off-site meetings with representatives of all groups (inspectors, skilled trades, operators, union officials, management) to discuss all aspects of an FMS installation, including job design. Comments on specific problems were asked for and considered. e At an engine plant (C), technicians who were progressing to a higher work module wrote a work plan stating what they needed to learn, how that would be done, and what kind of improvements would be sought in the job. The technicians then worked with the ~resources. (support personnel) in developing specific improvements. · In plants A, E, and F. work teams met 1 hour a week off the plant floor. Communications from management were presented to teams at these meetings, and minutes of the meetings were given to manufacturing engineers. e At an electronics equipment plant (A), department managers and their staffs regularly participated in Corrective action teams.. At the time of the site visit, the teams were focusing on product quality. · At a material handling equipment company (plant J), each Cell manager. decided how to organize shifts for operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. · At a military vehicle plant (D), worker represen- tatives defined procedures for bidding on new jobs. CAREER ADVANCEMENT A system of many job classifications with highly specialized distinctions and complicated wage categories limits on-the-job learning, personal development, and career advancement. At most of the sites studied, the newly designed jobs were viewed as opportunities for the work force to overcome these limitations. Many of the mites had developed clear personnel progression plans.
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44 At some sites, manual assemblers had the opportunity to develop into computer operators and applications programmers. In general, the new technology, particularly the more integrated systems, tends to upgrade the average skill level of workers. At an electronics manufacturing plant (A), for example, lower skilled assembly jobs were eliminated, manual assemblers progressed to the more complicated units, testing jobs became more complicated, and the maintenance jobs became more technically difficult. Workers generally perceived the ANT jobs (and the associated training) as more attractive than the jobs they replaced, and as making workers more marketable in the local labor market. PRECONDITIONS AND PITFALLS Workers may not be motivated to learn the skills needed for broadened and multiskilled jobs unless managers develop a culture that values and rewards learning, personal development, and problem solving. Managers' communication and reinforcement of values, therefore, should include (I) providing opportunities for workers to get the training and education they need to qualify for better jobs, and (2) rewarding with higher pay those who accept the.challenge; In short, the plant culture practices described in Chapter 3 appear to be a necessary accompaniment to the job design practices in this chapter. Reducing job classifications and introducing broad- scoped, multiskilled jobs in existing plants, especially union plants, are more easily done when the company can offer workers employment in other parts of the company or can guarantee that any reductions in the work force will be handled by attrition only. Unless both managers and worker. benefit from any changes undertaken, they do not have an incentive to try to make any proposed changes succeed. Two of the sites visited used a new .supergrade. job claselfication for ANT to protect workers trained for ANT fras the consequences of having low seniority. That is, workers with seniority in other job classifications would not be able to bum - . workers in the new classification. In these cases, the number of job classifications increased by one. Suab supergrades can be expedients for recruiting and retaining workers in jobs. If used
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as repeatedly, however, they will distort the plant's job classification system and prevent managers and workers from effectively combining ANT and new human resource practices. In addition, workers who become multiskilled will not necessarily use their skills when and where needed. A supervisor may believe that one worker is more qualified than the others at a particular task and persist in assigning that worker to the task. As a result, the skill level of the other workers may deteriorate from disuse. Similarly, in self-managed teams, team members may fall into a pattern of performing only certain tasks. Not only is the value of multiple skills undermined in such cases, but a company that is paying workers higher wages for their skills and knowledge will not be receiving sufficient benefits in return. Systematic rotation of team members between jobs has been one strategy used to avoid such work habits. The company will be more vulnerable to the conse- quence~ of turnover if it has invested more money and other resources in training workers for the new ANT job.. Thin vulnerability will require managers to place special emphasis on developing a culture that encourages commit- ment and loyalty between the company and its employees. It will challenge managers to design a reward structure that recognizes achievement and allows workers to better themselves by staying with the company.
Representative terms from entire chapter: