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Organizing for Heightened Employee Motivation

As a rule, teams are temporary in nature because they are built for specific objectives and will be disbanded after their specific projects have been completed (Wheelan 2014). Only in exceptional cases will teams be exhaustively utilized on a permanent basis to achieve business success. This is the case of AES Corporation.

Located in Arlington, Virginia, AES Corporation is the largest global power company, with sales at $17.146 billion (2014), it operated 90 plants in 18 countries. Seventy-five percent of its business was in contract generation. Table 3.1 shows its income statements for the period 2012-2014.

The company has very few organizational layers and, except for a corporate accounting department, keeps no staff for functional specialties. It is organized into 11 regions, each

TABLE 3.1

Income Statement of AES Corporation

2014

2013

2012

Revenue(B)

17.146

25.891

17.164

Cost of sales

14.058

12.644

13.581

Operating margin

3.088

3.247

3.583

General and administrative expenses

(187)

($220)

(274)

Interest expenses

365

275

348

Net income

1147

551

(357)

headed up by a manager. Each region is further organized into 5-20 teams, and each team has 5-20 members. Teams are created primarily for the combined functions of plant operation and maintenance.

Each team has no more than one of each kind of expert or specialist. As a result, everyone on the team becomes a well-rounded generalist. In-house qualification exams are held to ensure minimum expertise before job rotation requests of employees are approved. Each team owns what it does and is empowered to make decisions with commensurate authority to implement their decisions. The roles for company leaders are limited to advisors, guardians of the company principles, encouragers, and officers accountable to the outside world.

Employees are compensated according to the following formula: (1) 50% on financial performance and safety and environmental impact and (2) 50% on how well employees follow the four company values—fairness, integrity, social responsibility, and fun. The hiring practice of the company focuses on cultural fit first and technical skills second.

Company representatives attribute their business success for organizing the company in teams to the heightened level of employee motivation made possible by the team empowerment practice.

It should be noted that the AES Corporation example may indeed apply well to other low-tech operations such as warehouses, distribution centers, supermarkets, hardware stores, and service centers wherein repeat common practices are the norm. Everything you would ever want to know about operating and maintaining a conventional power plant has already been sufficiently preserved in manuals; in-depth technical expertise and innovation are not required.

 
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