Harley-Davidson's Motivational Programs Lead to Success

Essay by sandys6969University, Bachelor's May 2007

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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, between 1973 and the early 1980's, Harley's market share dropped from over 75% to under 25%. By 1984, sales had dropped to $294 million and profit was merely $2.9 million. The future of Harley was nothing but bleak.

In order to change the company's performance and improve the quality of the bikes produced, Harley implemented a series of programs and reorganization efforts to motivate its employees to help Harley turn around.

Since Harley was financially squeezed, the bulk of the incentive programs were based on intrinsic motivation, including employee empowerment and increased challenge and excitement in the job. Harley also began offering financial incentives that were tied to specific performance factors. Due to the extraordinarily positive results from these programs, they are still in effect today.

Intrinsic Motivational StrategiesEmployee EmpowermentIn order to motivate its employees to improve the manufacturing process, Harley implemented a program that empowered its employees at all levels to take more control of the operations and decision-making in the company. In order to get the best that each employee has to offer, Harley encourages every employee to suggest ideas, involves all employees in major company decisions, and allows its hourly...