A large company had a very serious performance problem. The performance overall was rather low, but there was not much leaders could put their finger on. In many tense meetings leaders blamed other departments, other leaders and constantly lamented that they were not able to "holding people accountable".
But in one department, Maintenance, it was easy to see problems. For years, the company had the practice of promoting people who had some technical skills into the Maintenance Department but without offering formal training and confirmation of their abilities. One day a new manager told discussed a story: he was wincing, shaking his head and rubbing his temples as he spoke.
He had noticed a critical piece of equipment was down and went to check on the repair. He found that the one assigned to the work had asked two others to step in and help, and they had been at it for six hours...All that downtime and triple the people needed to make a simple repair. And they were stuck! There were no closer to fixing the problem six hours in than they were at the start.
He decided to start troubleshooting himself, and soon had found the issue. It was crushed glass in the conveyor belt. On a conveyor that moved glass!
We did an evaluation and saw that several team members were not earning their paychecks and in fact we eventually realized we were losing about $20,000 per year on them!
When he came to me with this story I knew I had to help somehow. The key was using Industrial/Organizational Psychology methods to define the problem. Because no one had been able to face it, we had a serious performance problem, and it had been going on for years...
Please read the following Case Study about the problem and solution. I hope you enjoy!