Profit margins in the manufacturing sector continue to
narrow as costs increase and buyers become more
insistent on maintaining or lowering current prices. This
leaves manufacturers with little room for error.

The Symptoms.
This is particularly challenging in the automotive industry
where any unnoticed quality flaw can result in the car-maker
charging the manufacturer to disassemble all or part of a
vehicle to replace an under-par part.

These facts troubled the president of a parts company
where quality was running below expectations.

The president had begun to notice a continual increase in
the monthly parts reject rate. His concern was elevated by
an increasing need to run special trucks to deliver parts that
had not passed quality inspection when their normal truck
left for its daily rounds.

The pressure from these added expenses and quality
inspections was taking a toll on tempers. Departments were
fighting amongst themselves blaming each other for the

The president had finally had enough of the lack of
teamwork and requested an extreme leadership make-over.

The Diagnosis.
The diagnosis phase started with a series of interviews and
assessments. From these assessments it became clear the
company's leadership had a lack of teamwork and team

The major finding of the diagnosis was that management
was living in denial of the impact they were each having on
the quality of failures. Likewise, the president and chief
operations officer were oblivious to the wall between
salaried and hourly workers.

Self-awareness and personal discovery would be necessary
to end the epidemic of denial.

The Prescription.
A series of spaced, repetitive learning workshops were
conducted on-site. Attendees included all levels of
management -- from entry-level to the president. Several
topics were placed in the series to create a team
atmosphere and to bring the union-management issue to
the table.

Progress was evident following each workshop. The
president was impressed that his leadership was putting
their new learned skills into immediate action. Although the
parts failure rate continued its gradual rise, production had
increased at a faster rate. More money was being made --
but the quality rate indicated a greater exposure to penalties
from the auto-makers.

A key breakthrough occurred in the morning of one of the
sessions. An accident had occurred on the expressway
near the manufacturing facility. Reporters were on the scene
interviewing witnesses, including the driver of a car that was
now wedged top-down against a retaining wall.

Before this session a tour of the facility added another
element to the breakthrough. The president himself
conducted the day’s tour. Watching parts progress along
one of the production lines, the project's lead consultant
asked the president a simple question – “What happens
when a mistake is made?”

The owner replied, “Someone dies.”

“Someone dies?” replied the consultant inquisitively thinking
the owner meant an employee would be written up. Jokingly
he replied, “Is not killing an employee a little harsh?”

The owner, in a very firm voice said, “No, I mean someone
really dies. The part will not function in an accident and
someone will probably be dead.”

Somewhat stunned, the consultant said, “Do the workers
know that?”

The president replied, “Well they should not have to be told.
It's obvious!”

What may have been obvious to the president was not so
obvious to the employees. They knew they were making
safety equipment, but did not realize the minor flaw in the
temperature on the production line could cause the part to
fail. Managers thought the Quality Control Department was
being too strict, hourly workers thought management was
being picky in an attempt to fire them and hire lower paid
new workers, and the Production Managers felt everyone
misunderstood the importance of production speed.

Based on this discovery company-wide meetings were held
using an agenda with key points carefully crafted for ultimate
understanding and impact. Results were impressive. The
foundation was laid for a rekindled spirit of teamwork.
Hourly workers were informed of the life-saving importance
of their work and management learned to view the union as
a partner at achieving company goals.

Future Prognosis.
The reject rate dropped by 52% within two months of the
company-wide meetings. Although no employees were fired
or laid off, the increase in production rates allowed
additional savings as attrition was once again feasible.

Despite the downturn in their automotive business, the
increased profitability allowed them to purchase a struggling
competitor's accounts the year after the project was

Use this case study during workshops, coaching sessions,
self-development, or team meetings about:

"Dr. Max" shares his success stories by looking at the
symptoms of a business problem or opportunity, his
diagnosis of same, his prescription for success, and the
prognosis for the future. For more case studies,
click here.

©2016 Max Impact, Rochester Hills, Michigan, USA
Union-Management gap bridged
Recognizing the shared goals - and why