Magazine article Management Review

Linkage of Old and New

Magazine article Management Review

Linkage of Old and New

Article excerpt

At a time when buzzwords and new manufacturing techniques abound and tools are in demand, there exist very powerful tools that have been with us for a long time: incentives.

Incentives have been given the backstage position in recent times. They are viewed as "old-school" techniques that were necessary before the time of Total Quality and Employee Empowerment. Many of today's advocates feel that there is no place in our world-class manufacturing structure for incentive systems. True, these systems were strictly production-oriented. They focused on numbers at the expense of quality. Incentive systems were individualized, each employee concentrating on his or her own piece with little regard for the impact on the total product or process.

With the advent of Total Quality and Employee Empowerment, many thought that these new processes would be self-sustaining. Employees would "see the light" and ultimately become inspired to improve quality and productivity. It was believed that recognition for the employee alone would be the motivator.

Pragmatically, this did not work in many instances. While Total Quality and Employee Empowerment did have an initial impact--probably through the first 18 months--I have found that plants and employees revert to prior Total Quality status. These processes cannot be self-sustaining. It comes down to a matter of "What's in it for me?" We have found that these processes cannot change human nature. Employees want to strive for improvements in quality--but they also want to be compensated accordingly.

We have adopted a marriage between the current programs and the traditional incentive system. Both can, in fact, exist and flourish with one major change: The incentive system cannot be individualized and tied only to production. The incentive system must be a group or team package that pays for both production and top-quality goods. …

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