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Engstrom Auto Mirror Plant Case Study

By:   •  June 19, 2019  •  Case Study  •  710 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,075 Views

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When I first read through this article a few things stuck out at me immediately, such as some of the organizational issues that are taking place the stagnant growth and disgruntled employees. However, what drew my attention was the manner that the plant manager and his assistant were discussing these issues. It reminds me of a chapter from Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Lief Babin. The title of the chapter is that there are “No Bad Teams, Only Bad Leaders” and more specifically “Leaders should never be satisfied. They must always strive to improve, and they must build that mindset into the team. (WILLINK, J., & Babin, L 2018) I believe this rings true for this situation at the Engstrom Auto Mirror Plant as the manager appears to have lost his motive and ability to lead his team in the right direction.

It is apparent that before Mr. Bent took over the factory, it was more of an autocratic model where the only incentive for employees to work was not to be terminated. He recognized as the textbook noted ”that although autocratically managed employees did not talk back to their boss, they certainly “thought back.”(Newstrom, 2015) and did his best to move towards a Custodial Model. When he introduced the Scanlon plan, it led the factory to a seven-year high until recent. However, I think at that time, and during this current situation, he missed the underlying issue at play here. Why was morale so low?

What Mr. Bent missed was that his employees wanted and want to know that they are valued by leadership. This is where I believe that a supportive model would be beneficial and lead to more involvement from his team. Also, this is the most difficult to implement and requires some adjustment to his day to day workflow in order to build up his team morale.

That the employees are disgruntled after only seven months of not receiving a bonus shows that the relationships are not strong between management and employees. This was worsened when management changed the bonus percentages four times over a five-year course.  2000 to 2005 when management changed the calculations of the bonus program. This can be confusing and frustrating to an employee. This is where keeping things as simple as possible is the best policy. Jocko Willink states it best, “When plans and orders are too complicated, people may not understand them. And when things go wrong, and they inevitably do go wrong, complexity compounds issues that can spiral out of control into a total disaster.”(WILLINK, J., & Babin, L 2018)  

When I took on my new role here at Aria Diagnostics, we faced a very similar issue. Our employees were confused as to when and how they obtained their bonuses as it was complicated, and the metrics were not precise. I was able to have the president of the company sit down with the whole team and have an open conversation about it. We were able to resolve this issue by hearing their complaints and discontinuing out bonus program. In compensation we started covering 100% of our employee's health benefits.


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