Case Study: Treadway Tire Company

November 11, 2009

After reading this case study, it is not surprising to me that the company is experiencing high turnover amongst its foremen. Based on the information provided, it seems that, once they are hired, foremen are tossed into the front lines with little to no training either on the processes they are supervising or dealing with issues related to managing the hourly employees they are tasked with supervising. To make matters worse, it seems like foremen have little to no actual authority over the hourly employees they supervise. Sure they can attempt disciplinary action, but those decisions are then reviewed by a grievance committee which takes no input from the foreman and, on top of that, when the committee rules, no effort is made to explain the reason behind the decision to the foreman, even if the committee had decided to reverse the disciplinary action taken by the foreman! No wonder these folks leave—they have no training, no real authority or power, and are provided no explanation when their disciplinary decisions are reversed. Who would want to work under those conditions?

Looking at the employee turnover data, a couple of things jump out. First, the external hires clearly are not working out, as the company turned over six of these eight individuals. Given these results, it seems like time and money spent on recruiting and hiring these folks is being wasted, so maybe the external hire program should be abandoned? Second, I note that only six out of forty internal hires left voluntarily. The remaining sixteen employees were involuntary turnover. I would be curious to know what the story was with these folks. Are they just bad managers, or is this something that some actual training and providing of authority would cure? And, if that many people are being let go involuntarily, maybe the hiring committee needs to do a better job of identifying and selecting the best candidates.

Another problem that will need to be dealt with is the attitudes of the general supervisors towards the foremen. It seems like they are the ones beyond the sink or swim, no training approach. I am guessing that their basic process here is that that system worked for them, so it should work for these folks too, and if it does not then these folks were not cut out to be foremen in the first place. This attitude seems to be a big sore spot for the foremen, so the company will have to find a way to convince these general supervisors that the old way of doing things is no longer working. One wonders if this will not have to entail getting rid of some of these folks and replacing them with folks who are more open to new ideas.

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