Original Date: 04/26/2004
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Position Rotation
United Defense, L.P. Armament Systems Division Aberdeen established employee Position Rotation as one attribute in its High Performance Work Team System enabling more flexibility to be better positioned to meet the changing customer, supply, and production needs the facility experienced. Position Rotation has been a strong contributor in the efforts to improve team spirit and also helped improve employee morale.
United Defense, L.P. Armament System Division (UDLP ASD) Aberdeen recognized that its particular manufacturing processes required production flexibility. Changing customer requirements, changes in production needs, and the supply of parts drove the need for production flexibility. This need mandated that the facility develop a method to better utilize employee skills and experiences, recognizing that employees with varied backgrounds and experiences (i.e., a multi-skilled workforce) were better able to apply themselves to solve work-related problems. The primary method used was Position Rotation.
Position Rotation is a key part of UDLP ASD Aberdeen’s employee training process. It is linked to the employee promotion process and is one of a number of attributes in the facility’s High Performance Work Team System. Before an employee is hired, he or she is primarily assessed for possession of strong group skills rather than on technical knowledge. An employee's ability to work in groups and change jobs periodically is vital to the success of Position Rotation. An employee’s first assignment is with a team that has an opening rather than in an area where the employee has experience. Employees are assigned a sponsor and trainer and will generally spend from 18 to 24 months in a particular work area. After completing several qualification standards (QSs) and successfully working with the team for six to eight months, the employee receives his/her first raise. After the second raise and for every subsequent raise thereafter, the employee must move to another team for training and qualification. Position Rotation is based on company/team needs as well as employee needs. Eventually, the new employee will be the trainer in a particular work area and will need to have the skills to train others. To enable this process, UDLP ASD Aberdeen utilized the "Train the Trainer" program where employees are taught the necessary skills to be effective teachers.
As with the other attributes in the High Performance Work Team System, Position Rotation contributes to continuous process improvement. The screening process ensures that employees who are hired can derive satisfaction from change and improvement. While this work culture is foreign to some, UDLP ASD Aberdeen has seen strong employee participation in this program. The facility reports high employee morale and lower turnover rate. Position Rotation supports a team spirit, which in turn has helped improve safety, quality, schedule, and cost.
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