Treetop Forest Products Essay

Treetop Forest Products is a very reputable company who partnered with Westboard Co. to produce high quality lumber for sale to international consumers. Treetop Forest Products main operation is to take raw logs and transform them into 2-by-4 and 2-by-6 building grade lumber which are then transferred over to Westboard Co. so that they can sell them to their international consumers. Treetop Forest Product has six departments with those being: planing, sawmill, boom, packaging, shipping, and maintenance.

Each of the six departments currently works 2 shifts a day with two separate crews, with one shift being in the morning at 6 a. m. and with one shift being in the afternoon starting at 2 p. m. other than the packaging department. The maintenance department however, only works the night shift which starts at 10 p. m. Since the packaging department does not have its own supervisor, Treetop Forest Products has the supervisors from the planing and sawmill department look after their department and the packaging department, and that’s where the trouble arises.

The packaging department is located in a different building then that of the sawmill and planing department, with the sawmill department being a very far distance away from the packaging department, so although the supervisors do visit the packaging department from time to time it is often a second thought. With the price of building-grade lumber being so competitive, buyers will tend to buy products whose packaging and presentation is of a higher grade and therefore sets their product apart from the competition.

Since, packaging is such a major factor in whether or not consumers purchase their building-grade lumber from Westboard, they have a competition between the plants that make up their company where the plant that has the highest grade packaging will receive a plaque. Treetop has always excelled in packaging as to where they have received the plaque from Westboard on multiple occasions and when they have not received the award they have placed very high, but as of late this has changed as the quality of packaging that has come out of Treetop has been steadily declining over the past couple years.

One would think that since the productivity of the packaging department has been declining, the whole mills productivity level would be declining with it since it is the deciding factor between a sale and a no sale. The other departments at Treetop Forest Products however have been doing the complete opposite of what the packaging department has. The planing and sawmill department have been steadily increasing their productivity levels over the past couple of years, with productivity being so high the sawmill department recently set a new record for a single day.

That’s not to take away from the other three departments though, as they have been keeping their productivity level at a consistent level. This issue has become a major problem when increased or consistent productivity levels for 5 of the 6 departments should be considered a good thing, but in this case it is hampering the opportunity for sales to consumers for Treetop. Since the productivity levels are so high for the sawmill and planing departments, this often means that there is too much for the packaging department to do in one shift, so that has forced Treetop to add an extra overtime shift for the packaging department on Saturdays.

Although, this is a great thing for the members of the packaging department as they are making more money, it has Treetop suffering major consequences since they are losing profit from each sale of the lumber because of the extra money they must shell out to the packaging department, and since there is not a permanent figure of authority in the packaging department the members are often seen taking advantage of not having a supervisor by taking longer lunches and breaks and leaving the job a few minutes before they should.

These issues have caused Treetop Forest Products to suffer through the loss of profits and dignity within Westboard Co. Analysis: The theory that Treetop Forest Products is utilizing is the Contingency Theory. It I clear that Treetop Forest Products is using this theory solely because of the productivity that each department within the company is achieving. The Contingency Theory states that there is no one best way of leading and that a leadership style that is effective in some situations may not be successful in others.

It also states that while a leader may be very effective during one situation and point in time may become unsuccessful and ineffective either when put into another situation or when factors around them change (Contingency Theory, 2002), and this was very clear when looking at the Treetop Forest Products situation. Treetop Forest Products is a very effective business that thrives in the situation placed in front of them, which is partnering with Westboard Co. to sell their products to nternational business clients. With Treetop having six operating departments; boom, sawmill, planer, packaging, shipping, and maintenance, they assure themselves that things get done in an orderly and effective fashion so that they can rise to the top in their field. The only problem with this is that packaging does not have its own separate manager which means that planer and sawmill supervisor has to multitask in accordance to the departments that they have to manage in each shift.

Although, this may seem like it is a minor problem it has proved to be difficult for the supervisor’s to stay on top of things in their own department as well as in a separate department in a totally different location and skill. As it has stated in the case, Treetop Forest Products is thriving in the conditions that have presented itself with almost every department raising their productivity level except for one; that one department, packaging, being the one that has the biggest implications to whether Treetop succeeds in business or fails.

Since businesses judge the quality and sustainability of the product on how nicely and carefully the product is packaged, Treetop cannot afford to let the packaging department be their weak point. Even though the packaging department has won the Westboard Co. ’s packaging quality award several times their productivity level has been slipping due to the sole fact that they do not have a supervisor of their own and have to share supervisors with the planer and sawmill departments.

This is where the Contingency Theory plays in, because even though the supervisors for the sawmill and planer departments are doing an exceptional job with their departments, often exceeding expectations, when they are handed the responsibility of looking after and keeping up the productivity of the packaging department it often becomes overwhelming and a secondary thought.

The supervisors are exceptional at leading their own group members in their primary department since that is most likely what they have been trained in and specialize in so when implanted into the packaging department that specialization and training turn into secondary factors. Since the supervisors don’t personally know the members of the packaging department it puts a strain on authority the supervisors have and trust that the supervisor and members have in each other.

Although, each supervisor has been appointed that position because of their poise, ability, and ability to lead their department those leadership qualities may not transfer over from one department to another which is the case inside Treetop Forest Products organization. With the top two departments in the company being the planer and sawmill departments, it may be a case of management believing that the supervisors, since the excelled so mightily in their own departments, could hand another department while still maintaining the increasing productivity levels currently being achieved by their main departments.

What management failed to consider is whether their personal fire and drive would diminish when implanted into a different department while still trying to uphold their original department. The Contingency Theory states that leaders may become unsuccessful if factors such as their environment around them change which could have been a major factor in this demise of the packaging department.

For example since the sawmill department isn’t even in the same building as the packaging department, the lack of motivation the sawmill supervisor had to even visit the packaging department may have been due to a drastic change in environment, because when people get settled and accustomed to certain environments and factors around them displacing them may harm the company more than benefit them.

According to the “Canadian Organizational Behaviour” textbook, key characteristics of an effective leader include personality, self-concept, drive, integrity, emotional intelligence, etc. (McShane & Steen, 2009) and to expect that each supervisor in the company display the same key characteristics is what Treetop did when it appointed the planer and sawmill supervisor to also supervise the packaging departments operations.

As stated in the theory, leadership styles that are effective in one situation may not be effective and successful in others; and with each individual comes different leadership styles. For example the key characteristics for the maintenance supervisor may be that he or she is require to have an extraordinary amount of drive since their shift does not start until 10 o’clock at night, it takes a lot of drive to be able to work your way through that shift while still leading people who may prefer being home sleeping instead of at Treetop doing maintenance.

While the key characteristic that the supervisor for the shipping department must have is personality since they are dealing with external communications while processing and shipping the lumber out to be sold, so it would be difficult for the shipping and maintenance supervisors to switch positions due to the demand for different key haracteristics and that is exactly why Treetop’s packaging department was ailing compared to the other departments. Since the packaging department’s supervisor would have needed to have a strong knowledge of the business since the consumers put such attention to detail and emphasis on packaging, having the sawmill department’s supervisor whose strong point may be his or her drive was just setting Treetop up for disaster.

With the situation playing such a key role in whether or not a certain supervisor or leader thrives or perishes in his or her role, Treetop should have recognized the different situations the supervisors of the sawmill and planer department’s teams were in before they appointed them responsible for overseeing the packaging departments operations. The situations of the three different departments were extremely different not only because the operations of each department are different but also because of the success each department was having in the company.

The sawmill department was seeing major success in its daily day to day operations, setting a single day record in productivity while the planing department had to cut down their shifts from two a day to only one shift a day. The complete opposite could be said about the packaging department; the productivity level of the packaging department not only was declining, but it was so low that the job would often not get done and with such an emphasis put on packaging in the company it was slowly bringing Treetop from the upper echelon of the company.

Since the success levels of the packaging department was so different from that of the planing and sawmill department, the supervisors in those two departments may have felt as if they were being downgraded by having to take responsibility of the packaging department since their departments were so much more successful. The situations and environments around those supervisors changed which caused their leadership style to falter and not be consistent with the phenomenal job they had been doing with their own departments.

The Contingency Theory states that there is no one best way of leading and that a leadership style that is effective in some situations may not be successful in other situations. Also, a leader who is very effective at one place and time may become unsuccessful either when transplanted to another situation or when the factors around them change. In the case of Treetop Forest Products, when faced with the responsibility of overseeing the day to day operations of the packaging department the leadership style they had employed with their successful sawmill and planing departments.

Since the key characteristics needed for all three departments differ greatly, so when the supervisors were forced to oversee the packaging department the internal situational factors were different than what was needed externally. The success of the different departments was also a key reason for the demise of the packaging department since the sawmill and planing departments were so used to working in successful departments, when implanted into an unsuccessful department their environments were a change and shock from those of the successful environment.

Although, the sawmill and planing departments supervisors were widely successful in their current situation with their team, when faced with an opposite situation then they were used to and all around different environment, their leadership styles and qualities suffered leading to the packaging departments productivity level decreasing. Recommendations: Situational Leadership Theory:

The Situational Leadership Theory states that there is no “best” style of leadership, instead effective leadership is task-relevant and that the most effective leaders adapt their leadership styles to the maturity of the group or the individuals that they are trying to lead or influence (What is the Situational Leadership Theory, 2009). Instead of taking the supervisors from the two top departments in the company, Treetop Forest Products could have instead looked at which supervisors in the company were the best at conforming their leadership styles based on the mood and actions of their team.

Just because the sawmill and planing departments were the two top departments in the company that does not mean that their supervisors were the key contributing factors to the success, instead it could have been because of the exceptional display of effort and drive to succeed each and every employee in those two departments had to increase the productivity levels and rise to the top of the company.

Treetop Forest Products could have instead looked at each supervisor individually to see who of the five supervisors effectively led their team while still being able to encourage and help the unproductive members of their team and push the most productive members to do bigger and better things through recognition and encouragement.

The Situational Leadership Theory also says that effective leadership not only varies with the individuals or group that each leader is trying to guide or influence, but it will also depend on the job, task, or function that needs to be accomplished. Treetop was so worried about the productivity level was decreasing in the packaging department that they thought throwing the two supervisors of the most productive departments into a failing situation and hoping that their success would rub off on the members of the packaging department.

While these two supervisors were the leaders of the two top departments in the company, there might have been a supervisor or a member of the packaging department who was more capable of taking over the duties as the supervisor based on his or her background in packaging, even if it was only a very strong secondary skill. A strong leader in one situation may not be the best leader in another situation.

Leadership is task-relevant and although the sawmill and planing supervisors exceled so mightily in their current situations, when the task around them changed and the group they were leading changed, their performance with that group also declined leading to the declining productivity level of the packaging plant. Instead, Treetop could have looked into all the leaders in the company to see which had the ability and key leadership qualities to lead the packaging department or Treetop could have simply made a member in the department the permanent supervisor of the department.

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