Slade Plating Case Analysis
After reading the Slade Plating case our group sat down to discuss how we felt about the whole situation. We analyzed the case as a whole and then split it up into different sections. We were guided into finding two emerging systems that were present in the Plating Room. We found that the two emerging systems were the card punching system and the obvious subgroups. Furthermore we were asked to try and analyze the situation and give Ralph Porter some advice on how to handle the situation. We analyzed the situation as best we could and came to some progressive conclusions.
In the Slade Plating case, there are two obvious emergent systems within the company. The first one is the time card system that Tony Sarto’s group has created where a few of them are punching the time cards of their co-workers who were leaving early. Each member of the Sarto group would take a turn staying late, usually just once a week, and punch the time cards of the remaining group members allowing them to leave early but still receive the extra pay. In addition, if a group member was going to be late to work, the group would punch their time card so it appeared as if they had been there on time. With this emergent system, the Sarto group established several norms. Primarily, each member understood that they would all take a turn staying late to punch the time cards. Secondly, group members were aware that they must give prior notice if they expected to be late to work and that they must be in before 8:00 a.m. in order for someone to punch them in.
The second emergent system at Slade is the formation of subgroups. Subgroups are often inevitable as people are more likely to want to associate with a group and work together than be by themselves. They are also powerful and important because they are organized, which guarantees that processes are as efficient as possible and that no part of the process would be repeated unnecessarily. Within the Plating Room of the Slade Company, two main groups formed among the employees; while the remainder of the people kept to themselves or associated with only one or two other people. The first and largest group is the Sarto group, consisting of about eight people of the highest productivity skill ratings and led by Tony Sarto, the most respected member as well as the member with the highest authority. The Sarto group ate together, went out after work together, and operated as a group to complete work as efficiently as possible. There are several norms that were formulated within the Sarto group as well. First and foremost, the members of the Sarto group all valued not only the quantity they were producing, but also quality and inventiveness. In judging an employee’s work, the Sarto group did take into account how much the employee was producing but they were not as impressed if the product did not meet the high standards of quality they had set The Sarto group also highly valued being willing to help others, both in a personal and work related way. Moreover, the members of the Sarto group were all in accord that they would neither work too hard or not hard enough and that employees who did either would be excluded from the group.
The other subgroup in the Plating Room is the Clark group, run by Harry Clark. This group consisted of five people of slightly lower productivity skill level than those in the Sarto group. The members of the Clark group tended to mimic the behavior of the Sarto group but never reached the same level of quantity, quality, or inventiveness. They also didn’t help each other out on the same level of that of the Sarto group. The Clark group did not go out together on a regular basis but made it a point to do so once or twice a year. Additionally, though they never matched the volume of work of the Sarto group, they still managed to maintain a relatively high level of productivity.
Due to the fact that the Sarto group is bending the rules of the company by taking credit for hours they never worked, Ralph Porter, the production manager of the Slade Company, is faced with a difficult decision. He has to decide whether or not he should take action against the Sarto group as he has become aware of this violation of company policy. However, before he makes this decision there are several critical factors that he must first take into consideration. First, Ralph should consider the fact that all of the workers in the Plating Room are content with their jobs and most have been with the company for many years and are not planning on leaving. Second, most of the jobs that these workers are performing are not easily taught to a new hire and therefore, these workers would be extremely hard to replace as they all excel at what they do. If they were to be replaced, not only would this waste time by having to train them but the company would also severely drop in sales and output and thus, lose money. Additionally, the members of the Sarto group, despite the punching in and out dilemma, all contribute to a positive work environment. They all get the job done in an efficient manner and produce quality work at high quantities. The Sarto group members are also very willing to help each other out when work is building up or a problem arose in a certain section of the group.
While it may seem that the Sarto group’s actions are completely harmless and should definitely remain ignored, Ralph Porter must also look at the situation from a different angle. As manager, he should not withhold information from his superior, the president. By keeping this information quiet, Ralph is risking his own job as manager. Additionally, if other employees found out that he was overlooking this violation, he would lose their respect and, thus, his influence and power over them. So, essentially, Ralph has to decide whether or not it would be worth it to expose the Sarto group and risk losing valuable employees or least their satisfaction.
Our group feels that the Sarto group is so indispensable to the department that Ralph Porter should not take any direct action against them. We would recommend that he or another supervisor stay late every so often, unannounced, to keep the employees more honest about their hours. Also, we thought that if this didn’t work, Ralph could install a camera near the time card machine and post a notice regarding employee honesty to let the employees know that they were being more closely monitored without completely divulging the fact that their scheme had been discovered. These actions would force the employees to become more honest while also protecting Ralph Porter since he appeared to be trying to stop the problem from continuing. These actions will also help protect the relationships in the Plating Room and maintain a steady level of productivity, if not better.