Five Initiatives for Growth

February 27, 2000
Through a series of meetings, Bayer Corp.'s Roadmap for Change team came up with five initiatives for the site to focus on. Here's an outline:

1. Define site goals and strategy (and communicate them in interactive employee conferences).
Because there was such concern about job security, the Roadmap for Change team felt that employees would benefit by understanding the strategy for the Myerstown site. Having a long-term perspective would then help employees see how shorter-term goals fit into the strategy.

2. Develop a site communication process.
Based on feedback from employees, it was felt that they were getting their information from the "rumor mill" rather than from management. Supervisors didn't think that they had ready access to information and felt obligation to give employees some type of response to questions, even if they didn't have appropriate information. The Roadmap for Change team thought that a communication process that would provide supervisors with consistent information that they could share with employees periodically would benefit the site.

3. Develop hourly employee and supervisory role definitions and competency profiles.
Prior to Bayer's acquisition of Sterling Winthrop, there was a project to change to a team-based environment at the Myerstown location. Most supervisors and hourly employees went through training to prepare for this. In addition, the site was reorganized into focused factory teams. However, once reductions in force started, the project became less of a priority and team training ceased. The result was confusion among hourly workers as well as supervisors regarding decision-making, span of control, roles, and so on.

4. Identify areas of perceived inconsistencies in site practices/policies and determine appropriate action.
One result of forming "focused factory teams" was that factories implemented some HR practices differently. As a result, some thought that employees were being treated differently in the focused factories. This had resulted in a perception of "unfair" or at least inconsistent treatment of some employees.

5. Develop a performance measurement process (performance scorecard system).
Employees felt that they were busy, but they didn't have a feeling of how well or poorly the overall site's performance was. In addition, there was little in the way of tying site performance to individual performance. In the case of hourly workers, an existing performance feedback process had ceased to be used. The Roadmap for Change team felt that there should be some way of communicating site performance to employees and relating that to individual performance feedback.

Workforce, March 2000, Vol. 79, No. 3, pp. 68