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Increasing international competition requires companies to empower and develop the skills of workers at the lower levels. This paper will show how implementing change from…
Increasing international competition requires companies to empower and develop the skills of workers at the lower levels. This paper will show how implementing change from below through self‐directed teamwork enhances the understanding of the changing nature of work and the relationship between work and training. The case study of African Gold Mine (a pseudonym of one of the world’s deepest gold mines) illustrates the South African gold mining industry’s attempt to create a twenty‐first century workforce through self‐directed work team (SDWT) training conducted within the mine. However, underground participatory research reveals that in the workplace, organisational constraints hinder the effective implementation of SDWT training. In order to cope with these organizational constraints and inefficiencies, workers resort to planisa; “they make a plan”. In other words, they “get on and get by” underground through improvising and the team’s self‐initiated action. This paper argues that planisa is part of the existing occupational culture of miners and is an embryonic form of teamwork. Any strategy to increase the productivity of mineworkers must draw on these experiences.
This chapter provides an ethnographic account of conducting organisational research in a deep-level gold mining workplace. The ethnography presented in this book entailed…
This chapter provides an ethnographic account of conducting organisational research in a deep-level gold mining workplace. The ethnography presented in this book entailed living in the mine hostel, observing and participating in the production tasks of the underground mining teams for a full production shift for a period stretching over six months. The chapter discusses the day-to-day running of the production process at the rock-face down the mine. This section is important for understanding the organisation of the production cycle and the actions of the mining teams, foremen and management to ensuring the smooth daily running of the production process inside the pit. Furthermore, the chapter presents an overview of AfricaGold’s business performance in terms of operational efficiency, productivity and safety.
This concluding chapter not only summarises the key discussions and arguments of the preceding chapters but also reflects on organisational, managerial, supervisory…
This concluding chapter not only summarises the key discussions and arguments of the preceding chapters but also reflects on organisational, managerial, supervisory, behavioural, social and cultural factors shaping the miners’ reactions to the restructured and formalised deep-level mining work processes and their unofficial job tactic of making a plan (planisa). The chapter provides suggestions on how the positive aspects of planisa could be harnessed and negative aspects addressed towards efficient, productive and safer organisational, managerial, supervisory and operational practices at the rock-face down the mine.
This chapter provides an extensive review of literature on the interaction between and interdependence of informal and formal working practices in various workplace settings. The aim of the chapter is to elucidate the organisational, managerial, human relations and social factors that give rise to informal work practices and strategies, on the shop-floor not only at workers and work group levels but also at supervisory and managerial levels. This chapter helps the reader to understand the informal work practice of making a plan (planisa) in a deep-level mining workplace.
This paper aims to examine the interaction between formal and informal organisation of work inside the pit, with reference to the informal working or coping strategy of…
This paper aims to examine the interaction between formal and informal organisation of work inside the pit, with reference to the informal working or coping strategy of “making a plan” (planisa).
The research for this paper was ethnographic in nature and the participant observation was the main research technique used in the field.
The underground gold miners make a plan or engage in planisa to offset the production bottlenecks which affected their capacity to achieve their production targets and increase their bonus earnings. They “get on and get by” underground in order to cope with organisational constraints and management inefficiencies.
The paper highlights the limits of formal organisation of work and the significance of gold miners’ informal work strategy of making a plan (planisa) as an existing and alternative working practice that shapes their subjective orientation, agency and resilience to work structures and managerial strategies. Any strategy designed to improve the health, safety and productivity of underground miners must recognise, elaborate and systematically articulate the workplace culture of planisa as an existing work practice in the day‐to‐day running of the production process down the mine.
This chapter examines the miners’ occupational culture of planisa at the level of supervisor–worker relations. The chapter presents a tale of two frontline production…
This chapter examines the miners’ occupational culture of planisa at the level of supervisor–worker relations. The chapter presents a tale of two frontline production supervisors or shift-bosses as they were called on the mine – Jimmy and Lee. In this context, the ability of the production supervisor to make a plan in ways that enhance the social organisation of the production process and people management is crucial to the development of a reciprocal working relationship. The chapter argues that planisa also entails a valuable social organisational skill through which frontline supervisors could effectively use to manage work group dynamics and team performance associated with teamworking, intra-team conflict, effort-bargain and resistance.
The chapter reveals that by ‘getting on and getting by’ with his charges – going an extra mile to making plan for his mining teams wherever possible – Jimmy created a working environment that enabled his subordinates to achieve their production targets and increase their capacity to earn the much-desired productivity and safety bonuses. The case of Jimmy and his charges highlights the role of the frontline supervisor as a vital agent of workplace change that elicits worker cooperation and support for new work processes, not for the sake of pleasing management but in ways that benefit and make sense to them – going above and beyond organisational requirements to achieve the organisational performance goals at the point of production. On the contrary, the case of Lee, another frontline supervisor, demonstrates the opposite and highlights the harmfulness of poor supervisor–worker relations to the achievement of organisational, employee and team performance goals.
This chapter examines the interaction between formal and informal organisation of work in a deep-level mining workplace. In response to organisational constraints…
This chapter examines the interaction between formal and informal organisation of work in a deep-level mining workplace. In response to organisational constraints, underground mining teams make a plan (planisa) to offset production bottlenecks which affected the daily running of the production process at the rock-face down the mine. They ‘get on and get by’ inside the pit to cope with organisational dysfunctions and management inefficiencies. The chapter highlights the limits of formalised work methods and the significance of the frontline miners’ informal work practice of making a plan (planisa) as an existing and alternative working practice that shapes their subjective orientation, agency and resilience to deep-level mining work processes and managerial initiatives. While the informal work practice of planisa has pros and cons, any managerial strategy designed to improve organisational productivity, safety and teamwork must recognise and systematically articulate the frontline miners’ work culture of planisa. This is especially important if we are to fully understand the limits of contemporary organisational strategies and workers’ orientations towards modernised work processes and managerial practices.
This chapter focuses on the impact of generational differences between younger (Millennial) and older generations of frontline miners on team performance as one of the…
This chapter focuses on the impact of generational differences between younger (Millennial) and older generations of frontline miners on team performance as one of the factors that compelled the mining teams to make a plan (planisa) at the rock-face down the mine. In this context, making a plan is a work strategy the mining teams adopted to offset the adverse impact of intergenerational conflict on their team performance and on their prospects of earning the production bonus. The chapter examines intergenerational conflict within the mining teams as a work and organisational phenomenon rather than simply from a birth cohort perspective. It locates the clash of older and younger generations of miners and their generational identities in the historical, national and social contexts shaping the employment relationship, managerial strategies, work practices and production culture of the apartheid and post-apartheid deep-level mining. This shows the impact that the society has in shaping the differences across generations. The chapter highlights work group dynamics that generated conflict between the older and younger generations of frontline mineworkers. The chapter argues that at the heart of the intergenerational conflict was their orientation towards work and management decisions.