An Evaluation Of The Self-Directed Work Team Concept As A Means To Improve Overall Performance On South African Gold Mines

Strydom, C. F.
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 8
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2002
Paper written on project work carried out in partial fulfilment of B. Eng (Mining Engineering) degree The Self-directed work team concept is the product of relentless performance pressure on American industries during the late eighties and early nineties from other world industrial leaders like Japan. The concept proved to be a successful vehicle by which the Americans could increase their production and improve their safety statistics. The aim of this study is to evaluate the concept as a means to improve the overall performance on South African goldmines. he study is directed by a historical research section, answering questions like: ?Why do we need to change? ?What is a Self-directed work team? ?What are the principle advantages of the concept? ?What are the essential requirements for the concept to succeed? The study also includes an empirical research section that focuses on the current Self-directed work team situation in the South African gold mining industry. The empirical research section is limited to three case studies within Anglogold due to a study period of only six weeks. The mines chosen for the case studies have been labelled Mine 1, Mine 2 and Mine 3. The latter being the base mine allowing for a more in depth study. This includes a perception analysis towards Self-directed work teams within the mine. The study proves the truth of the Latin proverb ?Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis? meaning ?The times are changing, and we are changing with them?. The chief change catalysts identified are a dwindling gold price and a projected labour crisis. From the study it is evident that the Self-directed work team concept disposes of the critical parameters required for a dramatic improvement in performance. The study also indicates that for the concept to succeed, certain factors like top-level commitment and management-employee trust have to be in place. Sadly, the concluding part of the study proves that very few of the identified critical success parameters are present in the South African gold mining industry. This can serve to explain why the industry only has success with the concept when monetary gain is the chief motivator. The study only focuses on the reasons why the concept is not performing to its full potential and does not wander into explaining the reasons for the current unsupportive milieu in the industry. Self-directed work teams could well rescue the South Africangold mining industry but currently we are driving a square pin into a round hole! [Terminology SDWT?Self-directed work teams AEL?Adventure Experiential Learning ISW?In-stope worker POLC?Plan, organize, lead and control TEC?Total employee costed Silo?The confinement of departments preventing networking JCI?Johannesburg Consolidated Investment Co. Ltd]
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