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Treadway Tire Case Recap and Takeaways

The Treadway Tire case provides a chance to examine some of the key aspects of
managing people including the employment relationship with the organization as well as
manager relationships with employees. Here is an overview of the major problems, analyses, and
conclusions that can be learned from the case.
The important parts of the case background are as follows:
The Lima plant renovation provided state-of-the-art machinery that allow higher
quality and quantity of production than other Treadway factories. Yet, this efficiency
has not yet been realized due to the internal issues going on at the Lima plant.
Manufacture and supply quality tires in a highly efficient and low cost system
Internal Factors
Greenville, SC plant closed and volume moved to Lima plant
Lima plant operates 24/7 requiring long 12 hour shifts for employees
Employees often called off or showed up late
Required to meet increasing productivity demands and reprimanded if goals were not
Difficult to exert authority due to union power and grievances
External Factors
Alarge increase in the price of crude oil in the past four years
Price increases for the raw material used in tire production
Fiercely competitive global market.
Management: line foreman, general supervisors, area managers
Lack of communication among these groups led to unrealistic goals and expectations,
conflict, and other issues
Immediate Problems:
Motivational issues: job satisfaction and morale low
Voluntary turnover: many people deciding to leave the position
Involuntary turnover: organization asking people to leave for performance or other
Long-term Problems:
Union Relations

Underlying Issues

Lack of ability, motivation, and opportunity

Morale issues and dissatisfaction
Leadership styles
Team factors (including virtual team)

Relevant Conceptual Frameworks and Theory

A wide variety of course material could have been used to support your analysis. Below I offer a
few suggestions of frameworks and concepts that would apply in this case. By the end of the
semester, even more concepts would apply such as performance management recommendations,
change process suggestions, or even tips for working in a union environment.

Lower productivity results led to 13 foremen (57% of turnover) being asked to leave
(Involuntary Turnover). We can examine the Performance = Ability x Motivation x
Opportunity equation to try to find the stem of this problem.
o Ability: foremen did not receive training and had to sink or swim, meaning
many did not learn the abilities required for the role
o Motivation: dissatisfaction with a lack of learning activities, inflexible work
hours, and a lack of personal praise shows than intrinsic motivation was an issue.
On the other hand, employees reported being very satisfied with salary and
benefits, demonstrating that external motivators were not the problem.
o Opportunity: lack of promotion opportunities or growth meant little incentive for
performance. In addition, other factors that were out of the control of foremen
such as missing machines, workers not showing up, etc. affected their
Thus, we can conclude that the involuntary turnover occurred due to a lack of ability
(poor training), motivation (few intrinsic motivators), and opportunity (too many factors
out of foremans control).
The other 43% of turnover occurred because people wanted to leave (voluntary turnover).
Although voluntary turnover can occur for a wide variety of reasons, here are some
primary drivers:
o Company Strategy
Strong hierarchical culture focus on stability and control
o Lack of Motivation
Path-Goal theory
Low expectancy more effort would not necessarily lead to
greater performance because of all of the factors that were out of
the foremans control
Low instrumentality only reward for achieving goals is not
getting yelled at, and that only does so much for motivation

Low valence- extrinsic motivators (salary) not enough to motivate

Punishment as motivation although it can be effective at times,
continuous threats and scare tactics do not sufficiently motivate employees
and will in fact, lead employees out the door.
Lack of Top 5 Motivators:Treadway Tire lacks opportunities to learn, time
off/flexible work hours, personal praise, autonomy, and time with
o Leadership Style:
Authority-compliance leadership style high concern for production and
low concern for people
Alienated followers foreman were capable of independent thinking but
became cynical due to lack of formal training, poor performance reviews,
and verbal punishment
Theory X Managers- Constant monitoring and a perspective of workers
having no motivation to work suggests these supervisors utilized
McGregors Theory X in their Management Style
Transaction style- supervisor assigned foreman tasks and foreman
completed them in exchange for compensation and benefits
o Team Factors:
Internal context long 12 hour shifts, stressful, lack of authority/control
External context rising prices, raw material costs, global competition
Team size- teams of 20 people much greater than the ideal team size
Lack of Social Identityno emotional significance tied to group
Support for these issues can come from the case itself by utilizing quotations, summarizing, or
pointing to the exhibits (organizational charts, foreman distribution, employee survey, exit
interview, performance review) to strengthen your arguments. Support could also come from
class presentations by incorporating major frameworks, theories, and concepts such as those
described above. In addition, support could come from external sources such as your own
experiences, insights, or professional references such as books and articles related to the topic.
Some combination of these forms of support should have been provided to justify why certain
issues were important at Treadway Tire.

A wide variety of alternatives existed that would help resolve the issues at Treadway Tire. This section was evaluated by your
discussion of the advantages, disadvantages, and impact of a few different options. Here are several examples:
Potential Solution
Job Training

Workers would gain skills to
carry out responsibilities
Interpersonal and team skills
would be enhanced
Greater clarity in role and
additional feedback to help
foreman succeed

Expensive, Time Consuming

Culture change

Transform culture to a clan or


People are resistant to change;

cultures take a long time to develop

Utilize participatory
Train leaders to be

Allow followers to have a voice

and help make decisions
Inspire employees through
idealized influence,
individualized consideration,
and intellectual stimulation
Allow time to learn job
responsibilities and skills before
taking over position
Split leadership and managerial
responsibilities into two
positions. Hire a team lead or
administrative assistant to help
with scheduling and day-to-day

May not happen since authority has

been used so long; takes time
Employees may have been so
accustomed to transactional
leadership that it will be difficult
for them to challenge the status quo
Could be additional costs as
mentoring and development occur

Emotional Intelligence
Redesign performance

Implement succession
plan for foreman
Redesign foreman job

Training itself may not change

Managers already have enough on
their plate

Additional cost to hire another

person; time to determine how roles
should be designed

Build ability and motivation to get
job done effectively
Better self and relationship
management across org.
360-degree reviews would allow
multiple perspectives of feedback;
Goals and objectives would clarify
Clan culture would help the
relational aspects and enhance
communications in the org.
Followers may be more engaged
and motivated to work
Inspired employees will put forth
more effort in their work and build
intrinsic motivation
Foreman have experience doing
additional responsibilities
Reduction of workload and stress
for foreman allowing them to focus
on manager and performance issues

Reduce work hours

Reduce span of control

Work on Group

Increase intrinsic

Improve the environment by

changing shift timing from 12 to
8 hours
Smaller teams will allow more
foreman positions and less
administrative tasks
Use Tuckmans model to help
build relationships (norming)
and increasing productivity
Use time off, longer breaks, and
upward mobility as motivators

Extra costs; Increase headcount

Workers will be less stressed and

potentially more productive

Increase costs of operation

Better communication, More time

to manage individual workers

A leader is needed to facilitate the

team development process.
Currently these type of leaders do
not exist in the organization.
Change in work habits and structure
of the firm

Less conflict, better relationships

and eventually higher productivity

Productivity may be improved and

stress may decrease

The best solution for Treadway Tire would depend of course on your analysis and alternatives.
The most effective conclusion, however, likely relates to the following areas.
1. Culture change. Although the case focuses on the foreman, a bigger issue is actually the
plant management team, including area managers and general supervisors. They are
stuck in a tried-and-true management style that suggests that things should stay the
same because its the way theyve always been done. Obviously that strategy isnt
working and a major change needs to take place at the plant level. Simply implementing
training may not be effective if top managers are not supportive of it. This is not to say
that a complete overhaul of the strategy is necessary. The high-quality, low-cost
approach may be effective for them, but the culture and management practices currently
being utilized are not working and will certainly not lead to a sustainable competitive
advantage. A SWOT analysis as well as a thorough examination of the vision and
mission may be necessary, yet a culture change is most likely going to be most important
in this transformation. The current culture is quite hierarchical and so moving towards a
clan approach to foster a supportive and open environment may be more effective. This
will certainly take time and a long-term plan will be necessary to create this culture shift.
It may require new upper level managers to some extent if the current ones are not
willing to change. A clan like culture would open up communication between foreman,
unions, and upper management.
2. Intrinsic motivation. Evidence from the case demonstrates that extrinsic motivators like
pay and benefits are quite satisfactory at the plant. This suggests that the main issues
stem from a lack of intrinsic motivation. This can be introduced into the role in many
ways including recognition (rewards like time off if performance goals are achieved),
personal praise rather than verbal altercations, feedback, time with upper level
management to discuss issues, and autonomy in making discipline and other decisions.
In order to implement some of these changes, it is likely that the role of foreman will
have to be redesigned.
3. Skills Training.Internal turnover is at 40% (16/40) and external turnover is at 75% (6/8).
This shows that there is a problem with the position in general and it is not something
that only a college education can fix. As we dig deeper, we also notice that half of the
external hires leave voluntarily. This is in contrast to internal hires of which only 38%
(6/16) leave voluntarily. These figures suggest that external hires are dissatisfied with the
position and the problem will not likely improve with simple skills training alone. In
order for training to work, the issues with the culture and motivation need to be addressed
first. Budgetary issues leave a highly structured and formalized training program as a
slim possibility, but some training can be done such as coaching (having experienced
foreman lead inexperienced ones), on-the-job training, cross-training between the
college-educated and internal foremen utilizing the strengths of each. Some level of
training will be beneficial as demonstrated by this quote: Some managers ask what if we
train employees and they leave. Smart managers answer what if we dont and they

The last portion of the report was to indicate specific steps that would be necessary to carry out
the recommendation. A wide variety of responses were acceptable here as long as details of an
implementation plan were provided. Here is just an example.
1. Reformulate the strategy for the plant. In order for the culture change to occur, the plant
needs a better idea of where they are going and why. This might involve revisiting the
vision and mission of the plant, as well as stating the goals and objectives of the
organization and how they cascade down and influence the foreman. Once top
management has a better idea of a plan, they can make sure it is known and well
communicated throughout the plant.
2. Job Redesign. The role of the foreman is complex and ranges from focusing on
performance goals to dealing with administrative issues and everything in between. The
case mentioned that the performance goals are most important, yet the plant leaders are
not supportive in helping the foremen reach these goals. The position itself may need to
be split into two roles to allow the administrative tasks to be separated from the
performance tasks. This could be implemented by hiring an assistant, creating a team
lead as a stepping stone to the foreman position, or outsourcing some of the
administrative tasks. This would allow the foreman greater autonomy in focusing on the
task at hand.
3. Training Schedule. In order for the training to be implemented, a plan needs to be in
place. Clear goals such as having the foreman complete interpersonal, managerial, and
productivity training within the next two years may be beneficial. The implementation
of this training will be important as the budget is a concern. Thus, web-based training,
cross-training, on-the-job training, and coaching practices that can be developed and
administered at a lower cost may be necessary.
4. Performance Management Redesign. The current performance appraisal provides little to
no valuable feedback for the employees. Creating a more objective and informative
performance management system is needed. A combination of a behavioral scale that
incorporates communication and team behaviors as well as results would be valuable. In
addition, allowing line employees to evaluate the foreman would be helpful.
5. Communication Meetings. Since communication seems to be a big issue at Treadway
Tire, formal meetings should occur that allow foreman to discuss issues with each other
and upper management. This will allow them to vent concerns such as those with the
unions or a lack of resources as well as learn from one another in handling issues that
arise. This will also improve consistency in the leadership approach used throughout the
plant. These discussions should improve morale and hopefully will lead to issue
resolution and a reduction of problems in the future.
As you can see, a variety of responses would work for this report. The main analysis should
have included a thorough description of the issue using course and case information to support
the problem identification, alternatives, potential solution, and recommendations.