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Marks – 80
(Please attempt any 4 of the below mentioned case studies. Each Case study is for 20 marks)
Please read the case and answer the questions given at the end.
John was rapidly becoming the main topic of discussion for the workers on E-shift. For the past year, he had been working in the jeep-transportation department at a large manufacturing plant. His record of attendance was good and his work was considered far above average by his immediate supervisor. His supervisor also considered John the informal leader of the transportation department. This feeling was shared by the foreman and the other workers.
Lately, though, John had been seen by several supervisors breaking different safety regulations. Most of the violations would have been of no more consequence than a good talking to, so the supervisors let them slide.
Finally, John was caught by the plant safety supervisor without his safety glasses on. This resulted in his being laid off without pay for five working days.
It was the plant’s policy that safety glasses must be to gain admittance to the plant and must be worn times in the plant. This policy was to ensure that no employee would lose his eye-sight from an accident or from a resulting fire.
This written policy stated that an employee who was caught not wearing his safety glasses would for the first offence get a five day lay-off and then for a second offence gets another five day suspension. After John returned to work, he was again observed not wearing his safety devices. Within a few days of his return, John was caught by the same safety supervisor without his safety glasses. The supervisor informed John in an angry voice, “l m getting tired of writing you up for stupid mistakes.” At this point, John replied, “Why don’t you go home and smash your head. ” The supervisor then struck John, dt which point John proceeded to beat the supervisor unconscious.
John was laid off from work until the company could decide what action to take regarding the fight. After a brief meeting the next day, Mr. Prasad, the transportation supervisor, informed John that he was terminated. A union steward then asked Mr. Prasad about the fate of the supervisor. Mr. Prasad replied, “He will remain at work as far as I know. ” The union steward immediately stepped to the telephone and called the union president. From the ensuing conversation, Mr. Prasad learnt that a wild cat strike might be ordered over the firing of John and not the supervisor.
Mr. Prasad knew that it was the company’s stated policy that whoever started or was involved in a fight would be terminated immediately. Mr. Prasad was beginning to wonder whether the company had made a mistake in its decision and what should be done now.
(a) What is the problem in the case?
(b) How do you see the behavior of the safety supervisor? What would you do if you were the safety supervisor ?
(c) How do you see the change in John’s behavior from an informal leader to the one involved in a fight with a supervisor vis-a-vis the company’s policy?
(d) Could Mr. Prasad and the safety supervisor have prevented John’s case at the initial level?
ABC Company – An important decision
Please read the case and answer the questions given at the end.
One afternoon in January 1982, Amrit, industrial engineer of ABC Company, was called to the office of his immediate superior Nair, the production manager. Nair said, ‘Amrit I want to discuss a situation in the production department. A lot of people feel that Govinda is not the right man for the Assistant Superintendents position. The President and others have decided that I have got to fire Govinda or at least move him out of production. Everyone wants to fire Govinda, but I won’t do it to him. I was talking with Bhadra this morning, and we deckled that you might be able to make use of Govinda in your department.’
Amrit was surprised by both the information, and the proposal.
Nair concluded his comments with, ‘Amrit. I am asking you to take Govinda. You can say ‘No’. But then he gets fired. I have told Govinda this. Also, Govinda knows that if he goes with you, he will take a pay cut. However, I think you can make use of him both to your own and his satisfaction. You are, anyway, carrying out an in-process quality control and you might to able to make good use of Govinda in view of his long technical experience of production work. Think It over, and let me know by tomorrow.’
Amrit thought over the matter
ABC Company had been a successful enterprise until March 1982 at which time it suffered a sharp decline of profits: Sales had fallen off, and production costs had risen. The President adopted three measures which he hoped would improve the condition. First, by creating an Industrial Engineering Department for establishing work standards on all production operations, to determine which manufacturing costs were out of line and where remedial action should be taken. Amrit, 28 years old, who had been with the company for two years in the Purchasing Department, was selected. Amrit had WE. and MBA degrees to his credit. What he lacked in his business experience, he made up by his eagerness to learn. He was ambitious and liked by his associates. He wanted a transfer from Purchasing to Production for better opportunities for advancement.
Secondly, he consulted a Management Consultation firm to make a study of the Production Department. They pointed out that the chain of command was too long from Production Manager through Plant Superintendent through Assistant Superintendent to Foremen. They recommended the elimination of the position of Assistant Superintendent.
Thirdly, he engaged an Industrial Psychologist to appraise all the Supervisory Personnel.
Govinda had been with the company for 20 years since its founding and during this period had worked on every production operation, and his last 11 years had been in supervisory capacity. His manners were rough and aggressive, he had little formal education. The Industrial Psychologists report about Govinda contained the following points
(i) Evaluation for the position of Assistant Superintendent: Not good enough.
(ii) Capacity for good human relations in supervision will have friction frequently.
(iii) Need for development counseling: Counseling greatly needed.
(iv) General Evaluation: Govinda had a good ability profile. He suffers from a sense of inferiority. He does not like the responsibility of making decisions. His supervision is that of Autocratic type. Though he has the ability, as far as his personality make-up is
(a) What is the problem in the case? Explain.
(b) Explain Govinda’s behavior and work experience vis-a-vis the psychologist’s report.
(c) How do you see Nair’s suggestion to Amrit? Give reasons.
(d) What are Amrit’s considerations in taking a decision? What should he do? Explain.
Please read the case and answer the questions given at the end.
Roy, the president and founder of Electric Manufacturing Corporation (EMCORP) is wondering how he can follow the advice of his doctor, who had told him to take it easy after last year’s coronary attack. EMCORP manufactures a full line of fractional horsepower electric motors sold to both original equipment manufacturers and distributors throughout the country. At present, the company employs approximately 1,000 people.
Roy, an engineer, has maintained tight control over all major functions throughout the years, and though each of the heads of the engineering, manufacturing, sales, finance and personnel departments has the title of vice-president, they come to Roy for approval before making any change in procedure. Usually, each of these executives sees Roy several times a day. The personnel director once suggested a weekly meeting, but Roy voted the idea as too time consuming. Now. Worried about his health as well as the problems of the company, Roy is beginning to feel the need for some relief from the constant pressure.
The manufacturing rising costs department shows a picture of, consistent failure to meet delivery schedules, and an increasing number of quality complaints. John, Vice President Manufacturing, admits to poor performance, but says that the cost figures from accounting are pure history and of no use since they do not reach manufacturing until the fifteenth of the month following the month in which the work is completed. He states that his failure to meet delivery schedules is due almost entirely to the fact that the sales department makes unrealistic promises, and does not bother to check manufacturing schedules. John attributes most of the quality problems to the incessant flow of engineering changes that come without warning and with no time to work out the production problems present in all new products. Roy admits to himself that he had asked Smyth, Vice President Engineering, to put all the approved changes into production immediately.
The vice president and general manager of sales, Rita, recognizes that she has no knowledge of the manufacturing schedules and realizes that she, too, is being criticized by Roy for many broken promises in regard to delivery dates. However, Rita’s chief complaint at the present time is the result of having sold a large order of standard motors to a distributor having a supply of replacement parts in stock, and then discovering that engineering had changed specifications: a change that made all replacement parts in the field obsolete. Another irritant for Rita is the tightening of credit requirements instituted by the finance department without prior consultation with the sales department. Again, Roy admits to himself that it is the same engineering change which caused so much trouble in manufacturing that is causing trouble for the sales department and making obsolete the existing stock of replacement parts. He also realizes that at his request, due to an unusually short cash position, the finance department tightened up on credit requirement.
(a) Define the major problem of EMCORP’s management.
(b) Will the formation of a committee be of any value in this situation? If a committee is needed, assign a title to the committee and indicate who should be members of the committee?
(c) In the event that Roy decides to retire, will the presence of a committee make it easier or more difficult for Roy’s successor? Discuss.
Ceylon Fertilizer is a urea manufacturing unit having a capacity of 500 tones per day. The total work force of the plant is around 2,000. Being a self-contained plant, it has its own workshop in order to take care of regular maintenance work. The workshop functions in two shifts a day under; shift in charge for each shift who is in the cadre of AEE. The workers have been grouped into two groups, i.e., Relay ‘A’ and ‘B’. The shift routine changes once a week, Sunday being the weekly holiday besides the two shifts, there are a group of people under a Senior AEE attending in general shift hours.
The Relay ‘A’, consisting of 18 workers is placed under the charge of Shri Muthu who is a graduate in mechanical engineering. After undergoing training for a period of six months in various divisions in fertilizers, he had acquired a thorough knowledge of works to be undertaken by the Workshop After being a Relay Supervisor for 3 years; he has been recently promoted to the post of AEE, who is the shift in charge. When he joined the workshop, he found that the tasks were done with the application of thumb-rules and higher officers had to be satisfied with such a quality of work.
Shri Muthu, on witnessing this, started to instruct his workers in various theoretical aspects of welding, machining etc. Which he had studied in his college. They all highly appreciated the skill and techniques he had taught. The workers now learnt to do things in a better way. Thus, he gained the confidence of workers. As he was able to finish his work in time and in a better way than relay ‘B’, more work orders were allotted to his group. A few workers in this group started to grumble and one of the Foremen came and told Mr. Muthu that the “other relay workers do not have much work load and our workers too do not want to strain much and they are murmuring over getting more work.” Muthu, however, convinced the Foreman that extra work should be taken as a credit and recognition, and they should do their best. After this had happened some workers even tried to get transferred to the other Relay.
One morning, Muthu was making arrangements for the work to be taken and was giving instructions to his foreman. Turner, Kali, came and told him, “Sir, father of Fitter Sami expired last night and we all want to go and attend the funeral” and added “it is customary for the men in the workshop to attend such funerals and the shift-in charge has to arrange a lorry or any conveyance for the people to go to Sami’s house, which is nearly eight km from the Plant. Since Muthu joined the company, this was the first such instance occurring and as he had to finish some urgent work orders. He told the worker Kali, “You all need not go to the funeral. I can, however, permit a few of you as representatives of Relay ‘A’ to go and offer condolences to Sami’s family.” Further, he regretted that he would not make any arrangements for conveyance, This statement created a turbulence among the workers and a group of workers stopped the work and started demanding that they be allowed to attend the funeral or else they wanted to stop work in the coming shifts. The Foreman hurried up to AEE, Mr. Muthu to explain the turbulent situation on the shop-floor.
On hearing this, Muthu told his Foreman, “I have given you an alternative and I have already told the urgency of work and I am going to allocate the work as per planning schedule. If the work is not done, I may have to take action against you.” Then the group of workers started discussing among themselves as to what to do next. A Turner came forth and said, “You are not considerate enough on human matters and if you are still adamant we may prefer half-a-day wages cut as we must go and attend the funeral. Anyhow you have to make arrangements for our conveyance.” Muthu at this instance noted that a small group, who were usually complaining about the workload and were murmuring, were keenly interested in the affair. He decided to face the situation as a matter of prestige. He issued the gate pass to whoever wished to go, still emphasizing that he would not arrange any conveyance. Nearly 25 per cent of the workers remained and the others collected money from all for the funeral and went off.
On that day, Muthu could finish only a part of the work as planned and he had to explain what had happened in his Relay, to his boss.
When he came the next morning, it was rumored that only a few of the workers attended the funeral and the others had gone to the cinema theatre near the village. Muthu got irritated by the workers’ behavior and started writing memos to those who had received the gate pass the previous day. Some workers got annoyed by this action of Muthu and they approached the union to intervene. The news had spread to other divisions and there was an overall protest at all places in the Fertilizer Plant.
(a) What is your view of the action taken by Mr. Muthu?
(b) What are the weakness and strong points, as you consider, of Mr. Muthu as a Manager?
(c) How would you have tackled the situation, if you were Mr. Muthu?
Modern Industries Limited (MIL) in Bangalore, a subsidiary of a multinational company, is a consumer durables manufacturing industry. Presently, the company has over 5000 employees and an annual turnover of about Rs. 75 crores. It is a reputed high-technology industry with a strong team of technological experts.
The company offers an excellent training scheme for fresh technical graduates, known as “Graduate Engineer Training (GET) Scheme” which is of 2 years’ duration. The objective of this scheme is to identify and train engineers for the specialized technological requirements of the company. Over the past decade several fresh graduates have undergone this training programme and at present hold key positions in the organization, having proved their worth to the company. Even those who have left the organization are reported to be doing extremely well in their jobs. The company regarded it as a Prize Scheme. It has gained high reputation among the student community and there is keen competition among graduates country-wide to join this scheme.
Mr. Mohan joined the company as a Graduate Engineer Trainee in 1986 after obtaining his B.Tech. Degree in Mechanical Engineering from I.I.T. Bombay. He has secured the second position in the class, and had a brilliant academic record to his credit. After his B.Tech., he had several attractive offers for employment including a scholarship from an American University, but he preferred to join MIL as a GET. He had reasons to do so. Firstly, the scheme had a high reputation and was helping fresh engineers to start their career in industry on a sound footing. Secondly, he was interested in getting practical experience rather than continuing his education. Thirdly, he was the eldest son of his parents, who were settled in Bangalore, and he wanted to stay with them and lessen their financial burden.
He did quite well during his training, which included working in different departments on specific assignments. This helped the trainees to get a feel of the challenges in different functional areas and at the same time enabled the departmental managers to know them. This helped the managers to identify the aptitudes of trainees and place them finally in suitable areas of specialization.
Mr. Mohan’s training was oriented towards his final placement in the production engineering department. After his training in 1988 he was placed in that department as an Engineer. The job was quite challenging: it called for a lot of hard work and ingenuity. He was required to tackle technical problems related to a particular manufacturing workshop, and was also expected to improve the existing process and parameters. The workshop was one of the key manufacturing areas. He was quick to understand the complexities of his job and was able to show improvements in a short period of time.
The company had a reasonably good system of performance appraisal and rewards, and the contributions of individuals were usually well rewarded. Mr. Mohan earned an additional increment in 1990 in appreciation of his contribution. This encouraged him to work with greater enthusiasm. He was also a member of some of the workgroups, which were formed from time to time for tackling specific problems; and did well in this capacity. He was quite competent in his area of work and earned an extra increment in 1991.
However, trouble started brewing from then onwards. he and his superior, Mr. Tagore did not agree on many matters. Mr. Tagore felt that Mr. Mohan was not cooperative, and tended to be dogmatic in his approach. This adversely affected their work relationship.
Mr. Tagore, who was the head of the production engineering department, had over 25 years’ experience and held a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering. He had worked for other organizations before joining the company in 1976. He was placed as Manager of production engineering department in 1984. He had sound practical knowledge and was handling the production engineering department quite effectively.
Generally ex-trainees were considered for promotion after 3 to 4 years of experience. In 1992, many of those who completed training in 1988 were promoted as Senior Engineers. Mr. Mohan was expecting his name to be in the list of promotes, but to his surprise it was not. His performance during the year was rated as normal, and this upset him greatly leading him to feel frustrated. He met the Training Manager and appraised him of the situation. He requested him to arrange for his transfer to some other functional area. The Training Manager took up the case but could not transfer Mr. Mohan, as the workshop serviced by him was a critical one and his expertise was very much in demand there.
The difference between Mr. Tagore and Mr. Mohan were widening and becoming serious on technical matters. Mr. Tagore complained that Mr. Mohan unnecessarily argued on every minor detail, and that this amounted to disobedience. Mr. Mohan was considered an obstacle to work; his annual increment for 1993 was also withheld.
Mr. Mohan was thoroughly upset. He met the General Manager and contended that he was fully competent in his job and, therefore, there was no reason for withholding his increment. He argued that his superior was less educated than him, and that this accounted for the widening of differences between him and the Manager. He requested the General Manager to look into the matter, and he promised to do.
A week later, the General Manager called him and informed him that he was being transferred to another department. Mr. Mohan was quite willing to work in that department provided he was posted there on promotion. Inter-departmental transfers were not uncommon. Young engineers, in particular, were transferred from one department to the other with a view building them up for higher positions which required better inter-functional understanding. In all such cases the practice was to post them on promotion. However, Mr. Mohan’s demand was not conceded. He was transferred in June 1993. His performance in the new department was far from satisfactory and he was considered to be a “deadwood” there. He was understandably disgusted. He tried for a scholarship abroad and succeeded. This lead to his decision to quit his job. He left the country in January 1994, full of bitterness and disgust.
(a) How did a brilliant engineer turn out to be a “deadwood”?
(b) Was Mr. Mohan too sensitive and arrogant?
(c) Did Mr. Tagore handle sensitive and intelligent engineers properly?
(d) Was it not advisable to transfer Mr. Mohan in 1992 when the signs of trouble were seen?
(e) Should Mr. Tagore have stopped Mr. Mohan’s increment in 1993, knowing fully well that he was quite competent?