A key element of good management and good labour relations is to remove “demotivators,” Gordon Forward, president of Chapparal Steel Co., told a recent gathering of the Canadian Institute of Steel Construction in Banff.
Mr. Forward explained how a new, imaginative management style helped to improve labour-management relations and increase productivity in his company. Integrated mills in the United States average approximately eight man-hours per ton, but Chaparral (a joint venture of Texas Industries of Dallas and Co-Steel International of Toronto) has cut the number of man-hours per ton of steel to 1.8. Forward explained that a great deal of the company’s success is due to what he called a participatory management structure, which includes the following features:
- Company policies remove demotivators by not trying to catch the three per cent of employees who do not care but by concentrating on motivating the remaining 97 per cent.
- There are no time clocks, no dress code, no designated parking spots, no one is docked for being late, and everyone is on salary.
- There is only a minimal layer of management so that direct communication is made easier. Front-line supervisors do their own hiring and training.
- Employees do a variety of tasks; all of the 900 employees of the company share in the profits and receive full financial information.
Mr. Forward said that most demotivators can be eliminated even in an entrenched operation, but that the biggest obstacle to overcome is the old-line manager who is afraid that any change will jeopardize his position.