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Nucor Uses an Integrated Approach to Employee


Motivationgo
It was about 2 P.M. on Mar. 9 when
three Nucor Corp. electricians got
the call from their colleagues at the ~ickman
(Ark.) plant.
It was bad news: Hickman's electrical grid had failed. For
a minimill steelmaker like Nucor,which melts scrap steel

from autos, dishwashers, mobile homes, and the like in


an electric arc furnace to make new steel, there's little
that could be worse.The trio immediately dropped what
they were doing and headed out to the plant. Malcolm
McDonald, an electrician from the Decatur IAla.) mill.
.

--

was in Indiana visiting another facility. He drove down,


arriving at 9 o'clock that night. Les Hart and Bryson
Trumble,from Nucor's facility in Hertford County, N.C.,
boarded a plane that landed in Memphis at II P.~.Then
they drove two hours to the troubled plant.
No supervisor had asked them to make the trip,and
no one had to.They went on their own. Camping out
in the electrical substation with the Hickman staff, the
team worked 20-hour shifts to get the plant up and

running again in three days instead of the anticipated


full week.There wasn't any direct financial incentive for
them to blow their weekends, no extra money in their
next paycheck, but for the company their contribution
was huge. Hickman went on to post a first-quarter
record for tons of steel shipped.. ,.
At Nucor, the art of motivation is about an unblinking focus on the people on the front line of the business.
It's about talking to them, listening to them,taking a risk

on their ideas, and accepting the occasional failure. It's a


culture built in part with symbolic gestures. Every year,
for example, every single employee's name goes on the
cover of the annual report. And,like lverson before him,
DiMicco flies commercial, manages without an executive parking space, and really does make the coffee in
the office when he takes the last cup.. ..
But Nucor's path is hard to follow. Itrequires managers to abandon the command-and-control model that
has dominated American business for the better part bf
a century, trust their people. and do a much better job

of sharing corporate wealth.

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00000000000000000000000

Money is where the rubber meets the road. Nucor's a rolling mill is to thin out the steel made in the hot
mill
unusual pay system is the single most daring element furnace, preparing it to be cut into sheets. In the
days
of the company's model and the hardest for outsiders before the Nucor acquisition, if the cutting
backed up,
and acquired companies to embrace. An experienced Hutchins would just take a break.'YVe'd sit back,
have a
steelworker at another company can easily earn $16 to cup of coffee. and complain: 'Those guys
stink,'" he says.
$2 1 an hour.At Nucor the guarantee is closer to $10. "At Nucor, we're not 'you guys' and 'us guys.' It's
all of
A bonus tied to the production of defect-free steel us guys. Wherever the bottleneck is, we go there,
and
by an employee's entire shift can triple the average everyone works on it."
steelworker's take-home pay. Ittook six months to convince Auburn workers that
-.. --

With demand for steel


scorching@ese_dayls,
-paxday they would do
better under Nucor's
pay system. During
has become a regular
cause for celebration.
Nucor that time the
company paid people
based on their old
gave out more than
$220 million in profit
sharing formula but
posted what they
would have received
unand bonuses to the
rank and file in 2005.
The average der
Nucor's formula.
Pretty soon the
numbers became
Nucor steelworker
took home nearly
$79,000 last a
powerful argument to
switch. Hutchins saw
his pay
year. Add to that a
$2,000 one-time
bonus to mark climb
from $53,000 the year
before the sale to
$67,000
the company's record