River Woods Plant Manager
Heritage Appliance Company recently announced plans to construct the River Woods
manufacturing plant, replacing the company’s original, flagship facility adjacent to
the company headquarters in Edgemont. In announcing the new plant, the company
stated that, to the extent possible, it would be staffed by Edgemont plant personnel
and that the excess personnel would be transferred to other Heritage plants in neighboring
Heritage management views the River Woods facility as the plant of the future,
featuring new methods of production and lower processing costs and manpower
requirements. In a recent press release, the Heritage CEO noted they were replacing
one of the least automated plants in the industry with a plant using new forms of
production not previously seen in appliance manufacturing.
Heritage Appliance is also using the River Woods plant to pilot a new decentralized
management structure. In the past, the firm’s marketing activities were directed
from the home office by a vice president. Manufacturing operations and certain other
departments were under the control of the company’s senior vice president. In this
centralized, functional arrangement none of the company’s four plants had a general
manager. Instead, each department in a plant reported on a line basis to its functional
counterpart at the home office (e.g., director of production, director of engineering).
In contrast, the new River Woods plant manager will be responsible for the
management of all functions and personnel, except marketing and sales.
There is general consensus among the top management team that the long-term
viability of the firm depends on the success of this initiative. However, some have
expressed concerns about the difficulty of the task facing the River Woods general
manager. They point to the shift from functional lines of communication and accountability
to a plant-level focus, as well as the challenges of upgrading the skills of the
Edgemont plant personnel, working out the bugs in new applications of advanced
manufacturing processes to appliance design and production, and dealing with the
inevitable complaints from employees in a small company town who are not satisfied
with their new assignments and who might serve as the catalyst for unionizing the
only nonunion U.S. appliance manufacturing firm.
1. If you were part of the selection committee for the River Woods plant manager
position, based on what you’ve learned about the sources of personal power in this
chapter, describe what you’d consider to be the ideal candidate’s qualifications.
2. If you were offered the new River Woods plant manager position, based on what
you’ve learned about the sources of position power, what actions would you take to
insure that as the company’s first general manager you had the necessary clout to
accomplish your assigned duties?
3. Using the information on influence strategies in the second half of this chapter as
your guide, strategize how you would address the challenges you are likely to
encounter if you accepted the position of River Woods plant manager.
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