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CASE STUDY – CLAYTON’S PAINTS
Three years ago a new, North American CEO was appointed at Clayton’s Paints.
He promptly set about changing the way the longstanding Australian company
produced paint, his aim being to make Clayton’s Paints more responsive to the
needs of its customers and to gain a competitive edge over its rivals in terms of
both price and quality.
The new CEO decided that Clayton’s Paints needed to establish what he called
Customer First Teams (CFTs). He was convinced that the formation of CFTs
would improve Clayton’s paint-production processes, and moved to restructure
the existing workforce and production lines accordingly.
The CFTs were established ...view middle of the document...
but it was a very quick change, a very dictatorial change ... we were not given a
lot of time … the CFTs had to struggle.” Another commented: “He would give you
a broad guideline of what he thought should happen and then just leave it to
you.” The official new managerial policy at Clayton’s Paints was: “when we
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empower our teams to be self-managing we will be able to realise the full
potential our people offer.”
One of the workers who liked the new system commented: “you know you’re
responsible for a paint product from the time production starts to the time it
finishes – its got to be at the warehouse by a certain date.” Tension at Clayton’s
Paints had grown considerably since the new CEO had arrived, however. As
another of the employees remarked: “one manager would say this is what is
going to happen ... Then a couple of weeks later something completely different
happened.” Another, still, stated: “One day we were working normally, and the
next they came up and said to us: ‘now we are going to do CFTs’ ... It’s been
going on now for three years and they still have not got their act together.”
The CFTs were themselves the subject of a considerable amount of criticism.
Part of the system adopted at Clayton’s was the idea of job rotation – that all the
employees would be progressively trained so that they would become multiskilled. The response to the training was overwhelmingly negative, however.
Workers thought that the best way to learn was from another employee –
different employees learnt different ways to do a job depending upon who taught
them. As one employee noted: “a lot of things in the new instruction manuals
they gave us had no relevance to what we were doing.”
There was also friction within the teams. As one long-serving employee
commented: “sometimes you get people who think we’ll let the other person do
all the work and ... then you get heaps of trouble.”...