How roles and functions contribute to competitive advantage
A Tarmac case study

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Page 3: The Operations function

The Operations function brings together raw materials with the production process to make products that customers need. It also shares ideas across the company about how to improve processes or achieve cost savings. This is known as best practice.

The benefits are wide-ranging, such as increased efficiency and more effective management of health and safety and environmental issues. For example, Tarmac is implementing sustainable projects such as restoring quarries after use. It is also working with its suppliers to make the movement of goods more energy efficient.

The Aggregate Products division within Operations has a typically hierarchical structure with seven levels.

A graduate recruit 'shadows' a plant manager on entry into Tarmac. After 18 months, a graduate can expect to become a Zone Manager. A  zone is a defined area of the business.

Zone managers

A Zone Manager”s job includes managing operational performance in that zone to meet or improve targets for cost, quality, delivery, safety and business integrity. The long-term aim is to develop high performance teams who work within a culture of quality and continuous improvement.

Zone Managers have a set of agreed key performance indicators (KPIs). These show targets that they need to achieve. All staff in the zone need to understand their roles in helping to meet these KPIs. It is the manager's job to help them get the best performance by:

  • motivating the team through coaching and leadership
  • identifying priorities for continuous improvement
  • encouraging and rewarding staff who contribute improvement ideas and actions
  • emphasising the importance of developing skills and capabilities

Tarmac employees have the opportunity to contribute their ideas on how to achieve results. This helps individuals gain a greater understanding of the business. Employees are more motivated because they feel a part of the whole structure and not simply a small fish in a large pool.

'I joined Tarmac because I wanted a practical and varied role and one where I could see results. I have responsibility for three quarries. This is potentially a high-risk environment so a key part of my job is to manage health & safety and operational performance of the sites. There are always new things to learn, which is very satisfying. Tarmac has a policy of getting involved with the communities in which it operates, so, for example, I have responsibility for monitoring impacts on the local environment and am an accredited Great Crested Newt handler!'

Claire Leggat - Plant Manager

Tarmac | How roles and functions contribute to competitive advantage