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AMERICAN WORKERS ARE AS PRODUCTIVE AND QUALITY CONSCIOUS AS THEIR JAPANESE COUNTERPARTS, ACCORDING TO FORMER BUSINESS OWNER

 AMERICAN WORKERS ARE AS PRODUCTIVE AND QUALITY CONSCIOUS
 AS THEIR JAPANESE COUNTERPARTS, ACCORDING TO FORMER BUSINESS OWNER
 SOUTH HADLEY, Mass., Jan. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- American workers are a productive and quality conscious as their Japanese counterparts when given the proper goal posts, according to the former owner of a Massachusetts manufacturing business.
 Daniel C. Boyle, of South Hadley, vice president-treasurer of Diamond Fiber Products, which owned a molded pulp egg carton manufacturing business with over 300 employees in Palmer, Mass., lambasted comments made by a top Japanese politician that "American workers don't work hard enough."
 "Yoshio Sakurauchi (speaker of Japan's House of Representatives) may know the work ethic of people in his country," said Boyle. "But, his remarks are outrageous and insulting to most U.S. workers."
 Boyle said he based his comments on observations he's made of employees in over 100 businesses in which productivity growth and quality improvements exceeded defined goals when workers knew exactly what was expected of them.
 "When employees are made aware of management's expectations, they exceed the job requirements," countered Boyle.
 In one example, Boyle cited employees of Heekin Can Inc., a Cincinnati, Ohio, aluminum can manufacturer.
 "In 1984, Heekin managers introduced an employee recognition plan outlining specific job-related goals. Once these goals were posted, managers reported a turnaround in employee attitudes. Absenteeism rates dropped as production, safety and quality improved.
 "Significantly, Heekin's vice president of industrial relations -- Ray Sheppard -- reported numerous instances of employees skipping their personal breaks because their equipment was running well and they were either attempting to gain points for their daily performance or trying to set a new production record," said Boyle.
 Another example was the Palmer, Mass., egg carton manufacturing operation where the company saved over $1.6 million in one year -- the result of a productivity explosion of 14.7 percent simultaneous with a 40 percent reduction in quality complaints. When the recognition plan was shifted into plants in Natchez, Miss., Red Bluff, Calif., and Plattsburgh, N.Y., the company's "savings" totaled $5.2 million, said Boyle.
 "Many U.S. workers believe their managers aren't really committed product quality and efficiency," said Boyle. "Employees frequently recall instances when they've stopped managers on the production floor and offered cost-savings suggestions. Managers respond, 'We tried that in 1957 and it didn't work' or they'll say, 'I'll get back to you.'"
 "The manager who takes time to 'get back to' an employee finds his or her workers take their jobs very seriously," claims Boyle.
 "Setting clear objectives and making employees aware of these objectives are the most important factors in improving job performance," said Boyle.
 "Imagine the chaos which would result if we took the goal posts off the playing field on Super Bowl Sunday," suggested Boyle. "The players would be stymied. The same is true in the workplace. When employees lack a clear vision of what is expected, the result is chaos."
 Boyle said he began focusing on recongition as a means of improving productivity in the early 1980s. "I was tired of hearing about only Japanese success stories, and knew we had as many if not more American success stories to tell. It's important that we keep talking about our successes!"
 -0- 1/21/92
 /CONTACT: Daniel C. Boyle of Diamond Fiber Products, Inc. 413-534-9404/ CO: Diamond Fiber Products Inc. ST: Massachusetts IN: SU:


PB-SH -- NE001 -- 2090 01/21/92 17:09 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 21, 1992
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