Mc. Tavish Industries: Problems For

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McTavish Industries is having trouble meeting its production and quality goals. The morale of the workforce is low and absenteeism and tardiness are major problems in the plant. Customers have complained about installation delays and variances in the performance of revamped control systems. This has led to a number of liability claims that have raised costs unexpectedly for the company.

The plant is located near Edinburgh, Scotland and approximately 70 per cent of the 2000 employees are Scottish, however only a few of them are supervisors. The plant is managed by a former colonel with extensive experience in the British military, but only limited experience in a high tech remanufacturing organisation.

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The controls facility was designed to use the most up-to-date technology in controls repair and overhaul. Out-dated control modules enter at one end of the 1000 yard facility, where they are disassembled and placed on a conveyor belt for delivery to the work units which specialise in repairing, replacing, and cleaning various components such as solid state pressure switches, light sensors and temperature control modules. Highly specialised teams are made up of ten to fifteen workers and a supervisor.

The volume of incoming controls determines the teams’ workload. After a team has performed its functions, the refurbished control is sent to a testing group and then on to the next team for combination with other parts into a subassembly to match customer specifications. The completed subassemblies are sent to the testing department for an operational check. Any problems with the subassembly are corrected here prior to packing and shipping. Once the subassemblies arrive at the client’s facilities, a McTavish team configures the rebuilt controls to the client’s operating systems. More testing is done on-site by a team of McTavish engineers and control specialists.

The colonel closely controls his facility and his employees. They punch time clocks and take breaks only when a bell rings. Management limits employees’ job mobility and seldom offers training courses. New employees are expected to learn their jobs from their more senior co-workers. Management and labour have their own washrooms and separate dining facilities. Managers have been known to take credit for productivity improvement ideas that have been submitted by lower level employees. Lately the company has experienced some delays in meeting customer schedules. Also, units that have passed inspection have been found to be faulty once they were installed and tested at various client facilities.

The colonel finds the above problems to be extremely vexing. As a consultant, I would like to suggest some Organizational concepts for the problems faced by the colonel.

  1. Before job enrichment programmes can succeed, employees must believe that their lower-order needs will be met. This entails that managers provide adequate and fair supervision, make it possible for employees to interact with each other, and to provide fair pay and adequate benefits of employment. Once their basic needs are met, employees respond positively to jobs that are enriched (filled with more motivating factors).
  2. Not all employees will respond positively to more enriched jobs. The growth need strength of employees is a critical factor in determining the success of a job enrichment programme. Employees with low growth need strength prefer to have jobs that are highly structured and that require little creative input. Increasingly such jobs are rare in firms. Often firms eliminate such jobs by outsourcing them to suppliers. This trend will continue as industries become more competitive and deregulation eliminates industry entry barriers.

The jobs in the facility can be enriched by increasing skill variety, task identity and task significance. This can be accomplished by restructuring the existing work groups into natural work units. In controls overhauling, natural work units could be created around the subassemblies. Workers in subassembly units could be responsible for all cleaning, repairing, upgrading, module installation and testing. Final assembly and operational testing could constitute another natural work unit. Finally, a third natural work unit already exists and it is the testing and verification work that is done in clients’ plants.

It is notable that clients have no complaints about the testing and verification work that is conducted on-site by McTavish engineers and specialists. These teams (natural work units) are expected to detect and solve all integration and performance problems that exist between refurbished control units and the client’s production systems. The teams do a good job despite the fact that the subassemblies often do quite match client system’s specifications nor do they deliver the desired performance characteristics without the need for tinkering and final adjustments.

This question can be answered in two ways. Answer# 1 stems from the principles of semi-autonomous group work. The elements of such a work group are shown below.

  • The group has a whole task (natural work unit) with a mission that is significant to members.
  • Each worker in the group is cross-trained and possesses a number of mission-related skills.
  • The group is free (autonomous) to make decisions about its work methods, who does the work, work scheduling, the assignment of tasks to group members and the selection and training of new members.
  • A significant portion of compensation is based on group performance.

Building these elements into the work of production teams will raise morale and performance over time. For these improvements to take hold, managers will first have to improve hygiene factors (Herzberg’s theory). For instance, the time clocks must be removed and team members must be free to take breaks and set their own work pace. The washrooms and eating facilities should not be segregated. Finally, an effective system for tracking employees’ improvement suggestions should be installed.

These principles include the following:

  1. Employees should be provided with direct feedback on their performance (put McTavish employees in charge of subassembly testing).
  2. Employees should have the opportunity to learn new skills. New employees should have senior employees assigned to them as technical mentors and the company should install a work force training programme to bring all technical workers up to a high standard of job knowledge.
  3. Employees should be able to influence the scheduling of work. Therefore,  remove the time clocks; let employees take breaks when they want to and  remove assembly line control of the pace of work.
  4. Each job should have some unique qualities to differentiate it from other jobs (production and technical workers should be able to develop specialisations which provide a basis for career advancement and pay rises).
  5. Employees should have control over job resources (they should have wide responsibility for equipment control and maintenance.)
  6. Personal accountability should be increased (employees should run equipment maintenance programmes, they should be trusted to use tools and equipment properly, and they should have more customer contact so that service can be individualised more easily and rapidly).

Literature Review:

According to the theories, concepts and studies job enrichment can be discussed as follows:

Job enrichment is the impetus for redesigning job depth which was provided by Herzberg’s two factor theory of motivation. As mentioned earlier the basic requirement was the job enrichment and motivation for the employees in order to improve their performance and morale in the firm. The basis of this theory are related to factors which meet individual’s needs. Basically for psychological growth, especially responsibility, job challenge, and achievement, must be characteristics of their jobs.

Managers can provide employees with greater opportunities to exercise discretion by making the following changes:

  1. Direct feedback: The evaluation of performance should be timely and direct.
  2. New learning: A good job enables people to feel they are growing. All jobs should provide opportunities to learn.
  3. Scheduling: People should be able to schedule some part of their own work.
  4. Uniqueness: Each job should have some unique qualities or features.
  5. Control our resources: Individuals should have some control over their job tasks.
  6. Personal accountability: People should be provided with an opportunity to be accountable for the job.

As the theory and practise of job enrichment have evolved, managers have become aware that successful applications require numerous changes in the way work is done.

Herzberg’s work stimulated organisational efforts to improve job designs over the simplified and specialised designs created by the use of scientific management. Herzberg has advanced a number of ‘principles of job design’ which are briefly noted in the above table.

Also team approach to job design is essential as mentioned earlier in the second statement of the problem. Self-directed teams are organisational arrangements which integrate the technical and social aspects of group work. Countless companies are adopting this type of job design to exploit new forms of competitive advantage based on improvements in the design of work.

Due to the popularity of self-directed work teams, organisations are coining new names for their team-based efforts to organise work. They are called self-managed teams, semi-autonomous work groups, empowered teams or cross-functional teams. The integrating principles among them is that they are a permanent part of the organisation’s structure and their members have substantial responsibilities for a variety of team management and team work process decisions. In sum, the teams assume responsibilities formerly handled by supervisors and middle managers. Their new responsibilities include: training and development, quality control, performance evaluation, personnel interviewing and selection for possible hiring, work scheduling and control and discipline. A mature self-managed team could be expected to perform the following tasks. Members will:

  1. Evaluate each other’s performance, using peer appraisals.
  2. Cross-train each other until all members are familiar and competent to perform all related jobs assigned to the team.
  3. Schedule work and assignments within the team, which could be based on flextime or four-day 40-hour work arrangements.
  4. Divide work assignments to fit the needs of team members.
  5. Monitor team performance, make corrective changes in work processes and equipment utilisation and report the results of these activities to higher management.
  6. Apply TQM principles and service quality improvement activities to all phases of the team’s work.

The principles noted above have been applied to the work arrangements at New United Motor Manufacturing (NUMMI) which is a joint venture between Toyota and General Motors in GM’s Freemont, California plant. After being shut down due to labour problems in 1982, it re-opened as the joint venture in 1984 and it initiated operations which were heavily dependent on the self-managed team concept.

Except for the Two- Factor theory also other theories like Job characteristic Model and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs suit the requirement of the McTavis Ind but to a very low extent. Though there is much concern with the hygiene factor of the Two-factor theory of Herzberg, the other factors too, suggest the possible solution. As mentioned in the earlier part, workers morale is low and absenteeism and tardiness are major problems in the plant. This is due to lack of motivational factors which should be introduced in the plant in order to reduce the absenteeism by making their job more challenging, rewarding participative, etc.

Even Maslow’s theory does not perfectly suit the requirement if considered to be the solution as there is no such problem/issue regarding:

  • Physiological needs for basic survival and biological function.
  • Security needs for a safe physical and emotional environment.
  • Belongingness needs for love and affection.
  • Esteem needs for positive self-image/self-respect and recognition and respect from others.
  • Self-actualization needs for realizing one’s potential for personal growth and development.

Maslow focused on human needs which encompass a variety of life situations, one of which is work. Also the other theories like ERG Theory which include the core needs: existence, relatedness, and growth are not essential for the workers. Individual Human Needs (McClelland) which have the Need for Achievement, Need for Power, Need for Affiliation as the factors are not required for the solution.

Expectancy theory is a process theory of motivation which explain how motivation occurs and what behaviours it will activate. In contrast, content theories of motivation address the issue of which internal needs cause motivated behaviour.Expectancy theory is a useful managerial tool for understanding employee behaviour. It specifies the relationships between effort, performance and rewards. The theory articulates the significance of expectancy, instrumentality and valence. These concepts can be applied to work to help employees understand the crucial relationship between performance and rewards. The components of expectancy theory are sensitive to individual differences and organisational factors. Thus even this theory is not suited for the proper solution of the problem.

Thus the Herzberg theory of Two- Factors of Motivation and the Job Characteristic Model best suits the solution as it involves:

  • Thus the factors such as variety, identity, significance, autonomy, feedback, meaningfulness for work, responsibility for work, knowledge of results, achievement, recognition, the work itself, responsibility and Advancement and growth which all direct towards job satisfaction which is the most vital factor for the workers good performance and reduction in absenteeism.
  • Thus when compared it can be seen that these models are most helpful and suitable for the problem.

Herzberg’s two-factor theory of motivation model: The Model shows that employee work attitudes range from maximum job satisfaction to maximum job dissatisfaction, which can lead to higher employee turnover. The level of experienced job satisfaction depends on the availability of hygienes and motivators shown on the right of the diagram. From the diagram it is apparent that hygienes are not sufficient to move the employee completely into the zone of job satisfaction and motivation. The various motivators must also be included to ensure a fully motivating and satisfying job situation.

In other words, hygienes are necessary but not sufficient conditions for sustaining high job satisfaction and motivation. The diagram also shows that the absence of hygiene factors leads to job dissatisfaction, but when present, hygiene factors do not necessarily provide job satisfaction. In contrast, the presence of motivators does lead to job satisfaction if the hygienes are already in place.

As managements improve hygienes, employees often experience short-term positive feelings, but the general improvement in hygiene factors does not lead to sustained job satisfaction and performance. The factors that raise job satisfaction and performance in the long run are called motivators. Motivators are related to the employee-job interaction, and are job-centred characteristics. Often they are called intrinsic job factors or content factors. When they are present and hygienes are acceptable, employees are more likely to achieve satisfaction of higher-order needs. Absence of the motivators can lead to low morale and absenteeism because the jobs are experienced as unchallenging and boring.

There are two kinds of motivation:

  • Intrinsic motivation occurs when people are internally motivated to do something because it either brings them pleasure, they think it is important, or they feel that what they are learning is morally significant.
  • Extrinsic motivation comes into play when people are compelled to do something or act a certain way because of factors external to them (like money or good grades).

Thus both the motivations are equally important in order to result in the good performance of the workers of the plant. Motivators or satisfiers in Herzberg’s Two Factor theory of motivation are meant to provide intrinsic rewards to individuals.


Since in the earlier part it has been justified that the Two- Factor theory of Herzberg is the most suitable one as compared with the other theories of motivation. And also the Job-enrichment part is been justified as it refers to the process of building several positive, intrinsic inducements and attractions in the job with a view to make the job more interesting, meaningful and challenging.

It was Frederic Herzberg who advocated job enrichment as a follow up of his Two Factor Theory of motivation. Job enrichment, according to him, was a way of internalizing motivators or ‘satisfiers’ in the job itself, which are sources of higher productivity and satisfaction. Herzberg strongly advocated job enrichment as the most important way to improve motivation and performance of workers and employees.


  1. Hackman, J. (1977) ‘Work Design’ in Hackman, J. R. and Suttle, J. L. (eds.), Improving Life at Work: Behavioral Science Approaches to Organization Change. Santa Monica, CA: Goodyear.
  2. Hackman, J. R. and Oldham, G. (1976) ‘Motivation Through the Design of Work: A Test of a Theory’, Organizational Behavior and Human Performance: 250-79.
  3. Herzberg, F., Mauser, B. and Snyderman, B. (1959) The Motivation to Work, 2nd edn. New York: Wiley.
  9. Hines, G. (1981) ‘Cross Cultural Differences in Two-Factor Theory’, Journal of Applied Psychology 58: 313-17.
  10. Ivancevich, J. and Matteson, T. (1987) Organizational Behavior and Management. Plano, TX: BPI.

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