10, Job design, Work methods, and Organization


10.1, People make the difference

The keys to the production system are the workers in the system. In thoery, all organizations have accesss to essentially the same standard equipment, materials, and facilities. It is an organization's personnel that provides the competitive advantage and makes one organization more successful than another. It is the people who create new and better products and devise better ways to make and distribute them.

Recruiting well-educated, responsible, and skilled people is a good starting point for creating a productive workforce. But, how employees are trained, organized, and motivated ultimately determines the success of the company.

10.2, Job design

A job can be defined as the set of tasks and responsibilities of a workers. These tasks and responsibilities, along with performance expectations, work conditions (time and place of work), general skills, and possibly methods to be used, are normally contained in a written job description.

A central aspect of job design is to define the tasks the employee is supposed to do-the job content. Simple job content such as folding boxes can be listed clearly. More complex job such as executive assistant or project manager, encompass a much wider range of tasks, many of which are performed infrequently, and some of the tasks cannot be described ahead of time. In fact, some jobs deal with solving problems that arise unexpectedly and are not secifically assined to anyone. In these cases, the job content has to be defined more in terms of general problem areas, skill areas, or responsibilities than in specific task descriptions.

Scientific management school just treats people as machine who is driven by money without considering their boredom and motivation advocated by Frederic Taylor. Their performance are improved by training and skills. Behavior (Psychological) school has shown that the quality and quantity of work performed are affected by psychological and organizational factors, such as how interesting the work is, how much control the worker has over the job, and how workers interact with coworkers. We must combine two schools to develop effecient work methods and exploit specialization of repetitive tasks while providing workers with variety, control over their work, and a satisfying work enviroment. The goal has been to reduce the layers of management, move decision making down to first-line workers, and utilize the capabilities of workers more fully, thereby making their jobs more interesting while increasing their contribution to the production process.

Job enlargement is a horizontal expansion of job tasks having a worker do several tasks at a work station rather than only one or two. In a bank, it might mean training a person to write home loans, car loans, and installment loans rather than only one of these.

Job enrichment involves vertical expansion of a job's responsibilities and skills to include the design of the product or production process, is responsible for her own quality testing, handles customer complaints etc. Some companies even sends assembly line workers to visit customers and dealers to advise them on using their products and to get advice on how to improve product quality. It is an integral component of so called Japanese or lean production systems and of total quality management to let the wokers be the real owner to contribute more.

Job Rotation can make the desirable and undesirable jobs are equally shared without being boring. Some rotates every 2 hours, but simply rotating among several undesirable jobs is not always beneficial.

An essential part of job rotation is cross-training of wokers. Some companies even eliminated the need for almost all supervision; there is only one supervisor for every 60 line workers.Operators are trained on several machines so that they can be moved around easily if one worker is sick, and they are trained in maintenance so that when a machine breaks down, they do not have to wait for a separate maintenance crew to repair it.

Although there is evidence that job enlargement, job enrichment, and job rotation improve productivity, product quality, and worker satisfaction, it is important to recoganize that some workers prefer specialized, low responsibility jobs, they simply work to earn a living. How or if these people should be incorporated into a production system remains an open question.

Traditional quality department work continues to be transferred to operators called TQM which is one job enrichment. One advantage people have over machine have over machines is their ability to perceive complex patters, learn from experience, and think. This ability makes workers a primary source of ideas for improving the production process. For example, Jerry McCoy, a worker at General motors, has had over 75 of his suggestions for improving GM's products and processes implemented. Periodical review, autonomous work teams, quality circles, suggestion boxes and so one are now the sources of improvement suggestions.

Automation sometimes is a good improvement of human-machine interface in which it may impede productivity addressed by GE vice president Gary Reiner. Only people can summarize the experiences to improve. Some company even removed installed expensive and complex devices to assure the flexibility and JIT in which simplicity is the goal of TQM.

10.3, Methods analysis and improvement

Specifying the tasks and responsibilities of a job is only the first step in the job design process. The next step is to determine how to perform the tasks, that is, determine the best work methods to use when performing the job. Included in the search for the best work methods are the most effecient physical movements of worker, the best sequence in which to perform movements or tasks, and the best way to coordinate the worker's actions with those of machines and other workers.

Identifying and implementing good work methods means doing the following:

1. Observing work and measuring its efficiency.

2. Analyzing existing work methods.

3. Applying good work methods principles.

4. Instituting and utilizing work aids and good ergonomic design.

5. Training employees.

An analytical approach to deciding what tasks should be done and how they should be done is method analysis which relys on data collection, visual aids and charts, and analytic procedures to help understand and improve work methods. The ultimate purpose is to simplify the process improving efficiency in which system and system analysis is the key using process flow diagram showing the step-by-step sewuence of the process and the corresponding movement of materials, people, or information and using process chart giving more detailed breakdown of the process into tasks which classifying each activity as being either a processing operation, movement, inspection, delay, or storage.

These documents can be used to perform a question-based analysis whereby, for each activity or movement, we ask the following questions:

1. What is being done and why? Could the task be eliminated, and what would happen if it were? Could it be combined with another task?

2. When in the process is the task being done? Must it be done at this time or is there flexibility in its sequencing or timing?

3. Where is the task done? Could it be done elsewhere, and would there be any benefit in doing it elsewhere?

4, How is the task done? Why is it done this way? Could it be done another way or automated? Are there changes in equipment, tools, or methods that make it easier to do?

5. Who does the task? Could someone else do it, especially as part of another job? Does the person doing it have the correct skills? Should it be done by someone of higher or lower skill?

It is a process improvement method. Process design focuses on product flow, and work analysis concentrates on the activities to be formed. In some cases, these analyses should be done together. Most methods analysis and job design focus on the individual worker and the tasks he or she performs. Frederick Taylor observes and study the most productive workers to get the best and simplest methods. Frank and Lillian Gilbreth analyzed each fundamental motion and action to identify the best way using filming, analying and timing the motions frame by frame called mico-mottion analysis.

The best basic movements can then be synthesized into an overall work method or procedure. This process is usually aided by using a Simo (Simultaneous motion) chart recording the movements and time of both hands separately. Worker machine chart and team-activity chart

When desin a job, some principles can imrove the result such as 1. coprocessing or parallel processing in which we can combine active phase such as cutting hair and passive phase such as weighing the packages when the filler is running. 2. Back-Hauling to avoid movements with empty hands. 3. Designing Human activities to be compatible with the human body to improve productivity and reduce fatigue. 4. Listen to workers to improve the job design continuously. 5. Work aids and ergonomics to configure the work area, design tools and use aids to reduce effort.6. Poka-Yoke: mistake-proofing such as use color band on the guage to display the abnormality. 7, Training especially in low production season which is an investment imroving productivity 50% and reducing materials costs 50%.

Four uses for standard time data and work standards:



Job design and work organization


Although the academic subjects of ‘organisational behaviour’ and ‘human resource management’ deal extensively with all issues concerning people in organisations, the design of people’s jobs is particularly important to operations managers. That is why we include this topic within the text (most other textbooks in this area also do the same). The important thing to understand about job design is that, more than any other subject in operations management, one can take very different perspectives on the task. For example, a traditional work study practitioner would look at job design in a very different way to an ergonomist or a specialist in team working. It is not that any of these perspectives are ‘wrong’ as such. Rather that they emphasise different aspects of job design. The reality of job design is that most of the perspectives presented in this chapter will have to be used. So, for example, it is not necessarily incompatible for an operations managers to use work study techniques to estimate how long each element of the job will take to perform, whilst at the same time considering the ergonomic aspects of how the working environment should be managed, and also deciding on the relevant level of autonomy to design into a work team. While there are very different principles implied in each of the approaches described in this chapter, they are not always incompatible. We have chosen to describe each approach to job design in chronological order. This is not because we are particularly interested in the history of job design, rather it is important to understand how one approach either built on the foundations of previous approaches, or, alternatively, reacted against previous assumptions.

Your learning objectives
This is what you should be able to do after reading Chapter 9 and working through this study guide.

  • Identify the main decisions in job design.
  • Describe how job design affects the performance objectives of the operation.
  • Describe the main principles of each of the major influences on job design.
  • Indicate how the different approaches to job design differ in terms of control and commitment.

The objectives of job design
There are clearly many alternative designs for any given job. For this reason, an understanding of what the job design is supposed to achieve is particularly important. As before, the five performance objectives give us a guide to what is relevant in job design decisions.

1. Quality
The ability of staff to produce high-quality products and services can be affected by job design. This includes avoiding errors in the short term, but also includes designing jobs which encourage staff to improve the job itself in such a way as to make errors less likely.

2. Speed
Sometimes speed of response is the dominant objective to be achieved in job design. For example, the way in which the jobs of emergency service personnel are organised (the range of tasks for which they are trained, the sequence of activities in their approved procedures, the autonomy which they have to decide on appropriate action, and so on) will go a long way to determine their ability to respond promptly to emergencies and perhaps save lives.

3. Dependability
Dependable supply of goods and services is usually influenced, in some way, by job design. For example, in the postal services’ working arrangements, multi-skilling, accurate use of sorting equipment through good staff-machine interface design, and the ‘design’ of postal staff’s clothing, can all aid dependable delivery of letters and parcels.

4. Flexibility
Job design can affect the ability of the operation to change the nature of its activities. New product or service flexibility, mix flexibility, volume flexibility and delivery flexibility are all dependent to some extent on job design. (See Chapter 2 for a full description of these different types of flexibility). For example, staff who have been trained in several tasks (multi-skilling) may find it easier to cope with a wide variety of models and new product or service introductions.

5. Cost
All the elements of job design described above will have an effect on the productivity, and therefore the cost, of the job. Productivity in this context means the ratio of output to labour input: for example, the number of customers served per hour or the number of products made per worker.
In addition, job design will influence two other particularly important objectives.

6. Health and safety
Whatever else a job design achieves, it must not endanger the well-being of the person who does the job, other staff of the operation, the customers who might be present in the operation, or those who use any products made by the operation.

7. Quality of working life
The design of any job should take into account its effect on job security, intrinsic interest, variety, opportunities for development, stress level and attitude of the person performing the job.

Division of labour
Although it is historically the earliest influence on job design, division of labour is arguably still the most important. If it were not all of us would do everything. The fact that we specialise is a tacit recognition of the advantages to be gained from division of labour. The main issue is the extent to which jobs are divided up. Although there are still some highly divided and very repetitive jobs, there has been a general trend in many jobs for division of labour to be reversed somewhat. But not totally eliminated, that is the important point, there is still some degree of specialisation in almost every job. The important objective is to balance the flexibility and increased job satisfaction which less divided jobs give most of us, against the degree of efficiency and learning which often goes with some degree of division of labour.

Scientific management
As far as scientific managements influence on job design goes, method study and work measurement are its twin legacies. Both are still practiced, though neither are as popular as once they were.
Method study has some advantages in its systematic approach to questioning why jobs are design in a particular way. Indeed, the conventional method study approach is very close to some more modern approaches such as business process reengineering. The main criticisms of method study (and indeed business process reengineering) centre around its limited objectives. It pays little attention to even the most obvious aspects of motivation. But the principles of method study are still valid for most jobs. For example, compare the way an experienced cook moves around the kitchen, automatically sequencing tasks so as to save effort or time or both. Compare that with the less experienced cook who does not have the innate ability to perform his or her tasks in an efficient or effective manner.
Work measurement is less widely used now. Time standards are still important of course. Any business still needs an estimate of how long jobs will take, if only for planning and control purposes. However, the use of time standards to underpin payment systems or control work rate is less common. Again though, it is still practiced in some operations. Supermarket check-out staff for example, or call centre operators generally work against time standards. And where they do, the practice can still be contentious. The boxed example on NUMMI on pages 272 and 273 is an interesting example of how some of the basic principles of work study have been used by staff rather than on staff. The idea of thinking about staff from a physiological point of view, but in a systematic manner, goes back at least half a century. As such it was once regarded as a little ‘old fashioned’ in job design circles. However, health and safety legislation in many countries has prompted a renewal of interest in the subject. So, for example, on automobile assembly lines the car is normally positioned at a height convenient for the assembly line staff to do their job without excessive bending or lifting. This not only eases strain on the assembly staff themselves but also helps to promote smoother, faster and higher quality working.
The way in which controls and displays are designed is also treated by ergonomists. The figure below demonstrates what ergonomists call the ‘person-work place loop’.
A much quoted but illustrative example of how the design of displays can affect the effectiveness with which the operator senses the information displayed by them is shown in the figure below. The seemingly obvious way of laying out a bank of dials would be toarrange them so that the zero mark is at the top. When switched on the dials are all likely to display different levels but often the ‘normal’ range is marked on the dial. However, detecting a dial which is displaying an ‘out of normal’ reading still takes some effort by the operator. Alternatively, the dials could be arranged so that their normal ranges are all pointing in the same way when the dials are switched on rather than off. Any deviation from the normal range then is very easily detected.

Behavioural approaches to job design
The title ‘behavioural’ approaches in clumsy but reasonably descriptive. This approach is the first so far to take the feelings and motivation of individual members of staff into account. Now the ideas of job rotation, job enlargement and job enrichment are well established in job design practice. Nevertheless it is important to understand that this approach still keeps the responsibility for designing jobs with operations management (or personnel management, or human resource management, etc.). It does not pass any responsibility or power to the people doing the jobs. In that sense it is not fundamentally different from earlier approaches to job design. Its motivation and objectives may be different but its practice is still very ‘top-down’.

The idea of empowerment, for the first time gives some responsibility for job design to the individuals who will perform the job. But, as the chapter discusses, the extent of autonomy can vary significantly. At its most limited autonomy can merely involve asking staff for their suggestions as to how jobs should be designed. At its maximum, only the broadest and most general of objectives are set by higher management and the whole nature of the job and its organisation is left to those who perform it. In between these two extremes there are any number of levels. In that sense ‘empowerment’ can mean almost anything. What many companies discovered is that empowerment ‘did not relieve them of the task of job design’. It has been found to be very important to be clear in drawing the boundary between those aspects of the job which staff can directly control and those which management still reserve the right to define. So, for example, an operation might draw up a list of issues which it reserves the right to impose such as types of behaviour which are not acceptable (racist, sexist, etc.), safety practices (compulsory wearing of protective headgear etc.), timing (when the process must start and when shift changeovers occur, etc.), and so on. However, it may also define a list of specific job issues which staff can decide for themselves, sequencing of activities, scheduling of activities, appropriate work methods, and so on.

Team-working and job design
The significance of this influence on job design is that the ‘unit of analysis’ of job designchanged. So, rather than automatically assume that job design involved defining the content of a job for each individual, a further variable was introduced – the team. A team is a group of individuals who, together, have a set of tasks to perform. From the point of view of the staff who form the team there may be a number of advantages in working on a team basis rather than an individual basis. The interest, motivation and fun which can be gained from working closely with colleagues can make any job more attractive. From the operations point of view several people working together can be not only more efficient and more flexible but also more creative in the way they seek solutions to continually improve their part of the operation.

Flexible working
Three types of flexible working are described in the chapter,

    • skills flexibility
    • time flexibility
    • location flexibility.

In some ways this sequence of different types of flexibility is in order of difficulty. Skills flexibility involves individuals being able to do more than one job. This allows the operation to be more responsive as markets or other conditions change and also (arguably) makes jobs more interesting. It is not always easy to achieve skills flexibility, but at least most people are together in the operation at more or less the same time. Time flexibility, on the other hand, can present more difficulties because (by definition) not everyone will necessarily be together at the same time. Location flexibility can present even more problems, especially if individual members of staff rarely, if ever, meet up.

What percentage of time within a shift do you feel it is necessary for a supervisor should be on production floor?


Randy White • Johnathan, I encourage my Supervisors to be on the floor 80% of the time. Reviewing product, interacting with the employees to improve morale. Listening, talking discussing factors that can improve the quality of work and ergonomics. Basically get your ass in the grass.Shop floor presence let's the employees know that you care and your willing to work with them.
Magia Matang • depends on your organisational structure you can spend more or less time but id say 25% would be minimum one must spend on the floor to lead by example and promptly making decisions .
Adewale Yusuf • It does not matter the number of times. The most important thing, as a leader, is to build and have a team that is independent. Whether the supervisor or team leader is on ground or not, the team must be able to perform its functions effectively.
By this, I do not mean the leader should lazy about or be seen not carrying out his functions.
Warren Maruca • The shift, team or front line leader's job is on the production floor. A crew needs direction, supervision, guidance and a watchful eye of what is going on. The only way a an effective leader can do all of these things is to be out there and accessible.
Jozsef Czirjek I think 70% of his time from a shift he should be on the shop floor.
Jean-François Nicole • I think that most of is time should be on the floor, unless he have some other goal to meet, like C.I., 5S or kaisen to work on, but even in that case I think the supervisor should be replace during those periods of time. I think that the real question is how much time should you leave your production without any support? Or, how much time can my production run at a high effiency without any support?
fatoyinbo oladimeji • i think it depend on the team age, for a fresh team or workers i will agreed with 80-90 percent monitoring, but once the team is matured enough, i dont expect the supervisor to be with the rest of his guys always, or else they may not be independent on their own and this will create a problem for the supervisor any day he could not make it to work.
he should give them chance to prove themselve , while he stood by watching them.