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Harley Davidson's Motivational Programs Lead To Success

1973 words - 8 pages

History of Harley-Davidson:Today it is hard to imagine Harley-Davidson (Harley) as a low-quality motorcycle manufacturer in severe financial trouble. But that's exactly what Harley was in the beginning of the 1980's. Harley motorcycles were of such poor quality that over half of all the cycles produced were effectively inoperable because of missing parts or poor assembly. When Japanese motorcycle manufacturers entered the US market with reliable and well-built bikes, past and potential Harley customers switched over to the foreign brand. The only customers that remained with Harley were its most loyal, technologically savvy ones who were committed to the Harley brand name. As a result, ...view middle of the document...

This not only improves employee morale by instilling a sense of worth in each employee, it also creates a sense of attachment to the company. In turn, this empowerment results in increased dedication to the company, hard work and improved employee performance because each employee is given the power to initiate change and make decisions that affect the company.Furthermore, Harley's culture supports its strategy of employee empowerment. Harley is a flat organization with only two layers of management that fosters a friendly and collaborative environment. The atmosphere is casual and all employees interact with each other-there are no rigid lines between the management and the hourly workers. This generates a sense of camaraderie and feelings of mutual respect, which in turn facilitates open lines of communication and comfort with speaking up to identify problem areas and possible solutions. In addition, the company does not punish failed ideas or criticize out-of-the-box suggestions. Instead, the company always evaluates the new ideas and rewards employees for creative solutions that work. In fact, in 2001, more than 20% of Harley's IT staff was internally promoted for creative thinking that resulted in better or faster production.Finally, Harley doesn't force the added responsibility and power onto the employees and leave them to fend for themselves, adopting a survival of the fittest attitude. Rather, it provides them the tools and skills necessary to succeed in the more challenging and complex environment. Believing that all employees that are expected to take on the responsibility of increased employee power should be equipped with certain necessary competencies, Harley provides training in communication, conflict resolution, team skills, planning, problem solving, decision making, and performance management. For example, Harley-Davidson University, a training program required for all employees, "teaches employees how to do business stimulation and how to plan for ownership succession since they deal with a lot of goods and services" (How Companies are Managed). Harley even provides hourly workers the skills necessary to be able to market their new ideas to management and their peers. It trains employees on computers and teaches them how to give presentations on PowerPoint and how to use spreadsheets to manage the implemented changes. This commitment to training and education demonstrates Harley's loyalty to and confidence in its employees and gives them the skills and abilities necessary to make employee empowerment a success for the company and a non-threatening, welcomed aspect of the job to the employees.An example of how employee empowerment motivated an employee to generate change in the production process and therefore financially benefit Harley is when an hourly worker suggested putting two tanks in the pain chamber where he worked. The suggestion was quickly implemented and ended up doubling the productivity in the paint shop! If not...

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