The Treadway Tire Company: Job Dissatisfaction
and High Turnover at the Lima Tire Plant
Copyright: Taranjeet Gill MBA
The relationship between line foremen at Treadway’s Lima Plant and other groups.
The relationship between line foremen and five other groups at the Treadway Tire plant will
be further elaborated below:
Generally, the connection of line foremen with top management and area managers is
formal; they have no direct communication and usually have written messages for transfer
information. Top management and area managers use downward channels for sending
messages to employees (in this case is line foremen) while line foremen use upward channels
to deliver messages to higher managers. In addition, the richness of information is low
leading to get distortion between these two groups and this is attributed to the organizational
hurdles in communication. Because of the authority and status levels, the gap between line
foremen and higher managers is wide and it results in lack of communication and sympathy.
This is improved by line foremen’s suggestion in Exhibit 5; they want to have more
communication from upper management.
Besides, the relationship between line foremen and general supervisors is not good,
even worse since this group put pressure on them for achieving production targets and
responsibilities without instructions and proper training. Furthermore, the lack of respect,
recognition of general supervisors to line foremen is a clear reason for this bad connection.
Foremen are constantly threatened with bad performance when they lose targets. Therefore,
lack of open communication between them is unavoidable and this is due to individual
hurdles and organizational hurdles in communicating. The supervisors’ leadership style
(Theory X) has a part in restricting this relationship since the supervisors underestimate line
foremen’s performance. And the case refers about the dissatisfaction of the foremen for the
supervisors in interview which is in Exhibit 5, shows more about this bad relationship.
The relationship between line foremen and hourly workers is really bad and the case
highlighted about it as adversarial. Having high pressure from the management in achieving
production targets, the foremen in turn force the hourly workers in achieving the targets,
increasing tension between line foremen and hourly workers. According to employee survey,
it does seem that there is lack of understanding between these two groups and they have no
effective communication. Hourly employees complain that “foremen don’t treat us with any
respect, they just bark orders and expect us to jump” which is stated in Exhibit 4. This is
attributed to emotions of individual hurdles whereby the relationship between the foremen
and workers became worse due to pressure from upper managers.
The relation between the foremen and union is also bad. Line foremen feel powerless
to deal with disciplinary issues of hourly workers because union always side them and protect
their benefits in any cases. That is why the tension between the foremen and employees
increases. In addition, lack of communication and transparency between these two groups on
the problems of hourly workers makes the foremen frustrated and powerless. While the
foremen have to take many responsibilities in managing and administrating, they are not
involved in decision making process of union ruling committee and it reveals that line
foremen have no authority with hourly workers. This is due to the lack of the participative
decision making on behalf of the union; union should communicate and listen to the foremen
in dealing with employees’ problems and discipline whereby it would not lead to
misunderstanding between them.
Luckily, the relationship between line foremen and each other (line foremen) is good.
Same department has a number of line foremen and if they can meet the production targets, it
means that their team work and understanding is effective. It is a case of functional team
work to achieve a common goal and it is indicated in Exhibit 5 about the foremen’s
satisfaction in assessing co-workers.
The feelings of line foremen about their job and why.
A general description of the feelings of line foremen at the Lima Tire Plant can be deduced
from exhibit 4 (Excerpts from 2007 Lima Employee Survey) and exhibit 5 (Sample Exit
Interview). The feelings of line foremen will be further elaborated below:
In general, the line foremen feel satisfied with the duties of the job. This is probably
because of the challenges, responsibilities and diversified job description. According to Job
Characteristics Theory, employees are more satisfied when their jobs are meaningful and
when it creates a feeling of responsibility. In this sense, the line foremen’s job is one of the
most important in the plant as the production of tires is the main source of income which
means that the foremen contribute directly to revenue of the company.
In terms of training and development and advancement opportunities, the foremen
feel dissatisfied. It can be seen from the survey that the foremen only receive informal
training and important trainings which are related directly to their work is lacking. Trainings
such as managing people, payroll, human resources, administrative and on-the-job trainings
are not conducted. One of the comments from the survey highlighted this aspect saying that
trainings are important even though a foreman is smart and pushy. As acknowledged by
personnel manager, Robert Henry: “foremen are put on line before acquiring knowledge and
left to learn by their self”. Training and development says that orientation training and basic
skills training helps to overcome limitation/improve performance
The foremen are very satisfied with their salary and benefits as can be seen from the
case. The base rate for line foremen is 16% above average rate and they are also entitled for
overtime claims. In terms of salary adjustment, the salary is adjusted according to the
seniority of the foremen. Compensation includes monetary and nonmonetary for employees
satisfaction but in this case, the nonmonetary aspect is clearly missing.
The foremen are in general dissatisfied with the working conditions. Increased tension
between line foremen and hourly workers due to high production targets, lack of
understanding from the management on the situation of the foremen and