Quantum Jump in Growth: through Empowering its Frontline Workforce

Six Decade Old Compressor Manufacturing Unit in South India

The program was conceived by the company and titled as “Caterpillar” with an objective to empower and provide career growth to the frontline workforce.

The company was taking several business transformation initiatives in 2008 (e.g. Lean Management tools and practices were introduced) and the leadership team wanted to prepare the workforce towards the same. That’s when “Self-Managed Teams (SMT)” were introduced.

The average age of frontline workers was around 40; they were put through 40-days of manufacturing orientation program (customized module) in a reputed Engineering College in batches to prepare them for unlearning & relearning; teams of 8-15 members were formed in areas where operations have been streamlined through lean manufacturing; the teams were empowered to handle responsibilities that were earlier handled by the supervisors; subsequently they were put through multi-skilling program; team score cards were introduced to evaluate and recognize the performers in scientific manner; after about 12 months into SMT way of working the company identified those staff level positions which they thought could be handled by the workmen – and through proper assessment and observation in trial period the career progression was given to the deserving.

The company could see improvement in

  • Synergy across levels
  • Ownership of frontline workforce towards business performance
  • Faster decision making due to empowerment
  • Effective implementation of lean due to better team work
  • Improvement in per-employee productivity
  • Achieving cost competitiveness in manufacturing

Even after 10 years the company still embraces and keeps alive the spirit and principles of SMT in their day to day work.

Today, the company operates with ½ of the workforce it had in 2008 with the per-employee contribution and overall turnover from the plant going up multiple times.