FMC Aberdeen employs one hundred people, produces one product, which is a missile canister for the U.S. Navy. FMC Green River managed by Mr. Dailey, produces various chemicals, has over 100 domestic and international customers, 1,150 employees, creates several products and works closely at times with the United Steel Workers of America. Situational Awareness Aberdeen has a great structure for the ability to create quickly various small work teams such as informal groups or self managed work teams that allow the group to focus on improving a specific process. At Aberdeen the small groups gather, choose their own leader, poll together ideas and come up with a solution to specific problem. Once a solution is found the team disbands. Since Aberdeen’s company is smaller and its employees create a family atmosphere, the role relationships between the people in the groups have a strong personal bond.
This basic idea will also work at FMC Green River but will require some modifications. At Green River, if they follow the same concept, then the small groups that gather to solve a specific problem must also remember that what effects one decision in the process they are improving may have a devastating impact on another division of the same company since the company produces different products. Quickly creating teams on the spot for resolutions to specific problems as done at Aberdeen is much easier when only dealing with one product for one customer. At FMC Green River, where there are several products being produced and over 1,150 employees, trying to incorporate small teams when the need arises will work but some restrictions may have to be applied. I would suspect more division of labor and command groups would be better suited due to the possible impact of a decision by one team, which may significantly influence another part of the organization. The culture created at Aberdeen in terms of the small groups gathering to solve a problem, appears to have obtained from its employee’s a very high level of performance from each team member.
At Aberdeen while forming these small groups, the groups themselves have the ability to choose their leader and also, decide on how long they want a specific person to lead that group. The groups also have a unique ability to work within their groups on work schedules. If a person needs some time off, the flexibility of the group will allow it. One important aspect of the groups at Aberdeen is the ability for the groups to counsel others in either a positive or negative situation. Social loafing is practically non existent due to the rotating of team leaders and responsibility placed on each individual of a group. The family like atmosphere at Aberdeen naturally creates a strong group cohesiveness, which is very effective and creates a positive working environment.
At Aberdeen, with only 100 employees the need for virtual teams via internal communication networks such as email or net meetings is impractical and could create slow downs in their processes. The overall work group and team structure at Aberdeen minimizes the process losses due to poor coordination and motivational problems. The end result is a great atmosphere to work and solve processes to produce a quality product. Clear leadership at Aberdeen with the exception of the CEO could be a little difficult to grasp on whom is in charge. Within the groups, the positive input from each member and close working relationships have almost made it possible to do away with leaders. It appears at Aberdeen the leaders naturally create an initiating structure in that the leader of the group is simply to keep the group focused in one direction and be responsible for creating the reports and also have to authority to reward positive behavior or reprimand via counseling substandard performance.
Alternatives and Recommendations: FMC Green River will have many different processes in place throughout the company to produce several different products. If the processes can be broken down and placed into a division of labor, then I think within that specific task of workers, informal groups may be created but it would not be something FMC Green River should count on. I like the idea of employee’s being able to freely point out an area of concern or a possible solution to a situation. If this type of atmosphere is created at Green River, then self managed work teams would be ideal to solve some of the problems in the processes. Overall, due to the numerous plant responsibilities at Green River, command groups will be required to be in place.
From time to time, it may be required for Green River to create task forces to accomplish specific task but it should be kept to an absolute minimum. The use of task forces appears to have a negative impact on the working environment. Reason is, people that are responsible for their area’s or processes will feel as though management has disregarded their input or questions their ability. The goal of Green River as well as all the other companies will be to have each employee working continuously at there peak ability. It will be important for Green River to establish working group structures that allow each individual to be an important part of the decision making process and be held responsible. Aberdeen has a slight advantage in this area in that the team members are well known to each other and the atmosphere is goal oriented.
As with Green River, with a large number of employees turnover rate will be higher which means the group members will not have as strong bonds to each other. Effective leadership will be more important at Green River. Formal leadership needs to be better defined at Green River. Rewarding positive behavior will be the same as Aberdeen as will as implementing the required reprimands.
A cohesive structure can be achieved at Green River by implementing a clearly defined task structure with the flexibility of its workers to recommend changes in the processes. Implementation: FMC Green River should clearly define all the major processes in its organizations and include its workforce required to carry out the task. Once this is done, assign a manager to be responsible for certain areas to act as a point of contact for both the workers and the top management team. The managers overseeing the major processes must allow its workers to have the ability to make recommendations for improvements and to be part of working groups solving specific issues. Management should also use teams as done at Aberdeen to encourage its workers to gather in small informal groups or self managed work teams to solve problems or improve the process within there area of responsibility. Not only will this make improvements but also build on personal relationships with in the groups to help prevent social loafing and increase group cohesiveness.
After the small group recommends changes for improvement and if management implements the changes, the same group of people need to follow up on the new process on the results and make a final report or provide information on additional improvements. I’m not sure if this is done at Aberdeen. Since the number of managers should be limited, it would be advisable to allow the leaders of groups (if the leaders rotate) to counsel in a positive or negative way the group members performance. This will better and more accurately document performance to be used for yearly reviews for pay increases or promotions.
Also by allowing the leaders to counsel it will build on their management skill and confidence. But, all members of the teams should have this opportunity by rotating the leaders as done at Aberdeen. Green River could use the advances of technology to create virtual teams to support the overall mission of Green River. I think the managers of the different areas and not for the small work teams should use it. Reference: J.M. George and G.R. Jones, “Organizational Behavior”, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2001) J.G. Clawson, “FMC Aberdeen from Practical Problems in Organizations: Cases in Leadership, Organizational Behavior and Human Resources”, Custom ed (Prentice Hall, 2003).