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Posts Tagged ‘HR’

Auto Industry hits another pothole

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October 8th, 2009 Posted 5:24 pm

Bizarreville’s own auto industry, Shanker Motors, has been feeling the pinch lately.  Shanker has had a proud history, an automotive innovation leader in past years, coming up with such ideas as the self-cleaning ash tray, the power parking brake, the lighted hood ornament, and the optional dog seat in the trunk.  These ideas were years/decades ahead of their time.

But Shanker more recently has been beset with quality problems.  Bumpers would fall off when the velcro started getting old.  The “Smudge Master” windshield wipers never quite performed up to expectation.  Fuel gauges were often about a quarter of a tank out of calibration, causing some drivers to run out of gas at 2 in the morning.  This, combined with the fact that the cars were downright butt-ugly, drove the sales trend down in the past 5 years or so.  Market share was cut literally in half.

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A year ago, the Shanker management team recognized the problem and did a reorganization, literally switching job titles of every exec.  It cost several million dollars in new office nameplates, furniture moves, business cards, memo pads, and new drapes.  To cut cost, they eschewed the 12-way adjustable lumbar support massaging swivel chairs for the more basic 8-ways.  They totally cut out the restroom attendants in the executive restrooms.  The management team conducted several off-site meetings, days and days of meetings, using 14 full pads of flipchart paper and 117 packets of Post-It notes. They developed mission statements, vision statements, strategy statements, charters, bubble charts, quadrant charts, and SWOT analyses.  They were serious.

But in spite of all these seemingly bold, brilliant moves, results failed to improve at Shanker.  Next, they brought in an HR consultant, who promptly surveyed the Shanker workers to probe into productivity/morale problems.  Survey results, combined with intense focus group interviews, clearly showed that if the workers were given a 7 percent raise, morale would improve.  In further analyzing results, the HR consultants estimated that the improved morale would produce a linear improvement in productivity, 7 percent to be exact. 

Management agreed, made the change.  But they quickly found that the consultant’s projections were off…by about 7 percent, give or take.  The consultants pointed out that there were “other factors” at work, but agreed to trim their normal fee by 5 percent as a matter of good faith.

It seems that Shanker prospects look bleak and they may be headed for Chapter 11.  In the mean time, the Purchasing Department has told their suppliers to either drop prices 10 percent or they would be given a kite to fly.  To be fair…it is a fairly nice kite with the company logo and a pretty red paisley background…but it does have a hand gesture illustration that might be considered a bit inappropriate when flying down on the beach.

Bizarreville Leaders are debating if there is some help that could be given.  But there is not much enthusiasm, since many of the Leaders have owned Shankers and, yes, have done that 2:00 am walk home. 

It still may be possible that a deal could be worked out to have them develop a line of taxi cabs…sort of the final link at the very end of the auto food chain.  Stay tuned.