HBS: The Treadway Tire Company by Wickham Skinner and Heather Beckham

April 26, 2010

Job Dissatisfaction And High Turnover At The Lima Tire Plant

Wow, what an interesting case study on TTTC (The Treadway Tire Company), as it presents a vivid narrative, while also outlines the major issues that originated the job dissatisfaction and high turnover at nearly every level of the corporation from the plant manager; general supervisors, managers, line foremen, to lower levels in their 4 respective work areas: production, maintenance, material control, and quality assurance.

Having a system in place, as it is the case at TTTC, that does not promote high quality training on its workforce, especially on its new hires on how to deal with labor, administrative, resource, and personnel issues or instill an atmosphere of trust and respect among employees regardless the position they occupy in the company brings nothing but job dissatisfaction at all multiple levels, morale is down and so is productivity and profitability.

Additionally, The TTTC’s line foremen and new hires promoted from within, outside “college students”, or transfers were just thrown on the job with little knowledge and training of what it’s like supervising people and soon found themselves without the backup from their immediate supervisors who had come up from similar ranks and who held the we did so you can too “sink it or swim it” attitude.

Also, these untrained mangers, supervisors or line foremen responsible for personnel and administrative tasks and issues who held most of the responsibility and had little authority were a key component in the grain of the ever-growing quota at TTTC; a company that did so little in training and developing good managers for its future decades, and that was not able to deal with high-stress work environments due to not only the skyrocketing oil prices, intense competition, but also the high turnover faced on its workforce, especially on its line foremen positions.   

This case study was pretty interesting as it touches upon the importance of what can go wrong even in the most cutting-edge technological business environments as TTT’s Lima, Ohio, Tire Plant’s manager Brandon Bellingham spent tons of money in innovating and building its hub to make it look nice and neat, however he lacked the most important essence: to invest enough on its people who are ultimately the main capital.   

Ashley Wall, TTTC’s human resources manager, also tried her best to cope with this huge problem of turnover, had great intentions to do so however limited or no resources on her side to resolve a huge problem.  

At some point, I felt the authors Skinner and Beckham were describing the company’s situation for which I work as most of the stuff presented on this case study I see it happening on a daily basis, especially when it comes to the administrative duties foremen spent at the end of each shift completing such as: staggering employees, approving vacation requests, checking the time cards, and solving payroll issues, not to mention the variety of personnel and resource issues the management team at my work feels pulled in different, often conflicting directions by top management, the workers, and the union as well.

Skinner and Beckham did a phenomenal job presenting us with this case of job dissatisfaction and high turnover at TTTC in the end of 2007, so below please see my biggest takeaways from this reading:

  • Invest in the human element: such an invaluable and vital asset to the organization. This reminds me the Stanford article: Harrah’s Entertainment. The philosophy they implemented from their inception was: no fancy offices, buildings, machines, or what have them, what truly matters is the people both internal and external. And I totally buy this as the properties mean nothing if the people who are supposed to fill them or run them are unhappy.   
  • Money does not cure the organizational ills: more than a paycheck, people want to be respected and supported by their managers or stupidvisors and want to know that they are going to be there when needed, and empower them to make good decisions that are best for both their organizations and teams shared goal.
  • Win-Win agreements: people nowadays want to be presented with a win-win scenario, or else, otherwise job dissatisfaction and high turnover will start to be eminent in any company that doesn’t heed to this managerial dilemma.   
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