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Not "Lucky" to get Hired at Toyota

WOAI: San Antonio News – Toyota Countdown: Landing a Job at Toyota

Here’s a story about hiring at the Toyota San Antonio plant. There are far more applicants than jobs available, so Toyota can be selective in its hiring.

The long lines and stacks of resumes. Hundreds of thousands of people are answering Toyota’s ‘help wanted’ ad. Rolando Lugo’s application was approved. He’s now earning a Toyota pay check.

“A lot of people have told me that I was lucky. And, to me, its not luck. I proved to myself that I was Toyota quality,” said Rolando.

Toyota quality? What is it how do you define it on a resume?

Here are some key points: Toyota says in many cases, experience doesn’t matter. The company wants to know you are flexible, you have a good attitude, and you can work with a team.

“If you come to Toyota with those key characteristics, we’re going to teach you how to build a Tundra pick up truck,” said John Runge of Toyota Human Resources.

That reminds me of Southwest Airlines — hire for attitude and train for skill!

It’s probably a plus if you didn’t already work 20 years at the GM Arlington plant. Toyota would rather have people without engrained bad habits or bad attitudes, I’m sure.

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mark graban lean blog Not "Lucky" to get Hired at Toyota leanAbout LeanBlog.org: Mark Graban is a consultant, author, and speaker in the “lean healthcare” methodology. Mark is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as the new Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. Mark is also the VP of Customer Success for the technology company KaiNexus.

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6 Comments on "Not "Lucky" to get Hired at Toyota"

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  1. Mark Francis says:

    Mark ends with the statement, “Toyota would rather have people without engrained bad habits or bad attitudes, I’m sure.

    I can imagine a few ways to identify these characteristics in an applicant, prior employment is probably a bad indicator. I recall having an EDS manager tell me (in the late ’70s, before their GM sidetrip), that I would not be considered for employment because I had “too much IT experience”. They want to insure that their employees would do things “the EDS way”. I never got that impression from Toyota. One of my tasks was to deepen staff understanding of the Toyota Way, since promoting learning (as in Senge’s Learning Organization) is bound tightly to Respect for People. After all, bad habits can be broken. Didn’t Gary Convis use his time at NUMMI to overcome whatever bad habits he acquired at GM and Ford?

  2. Mark Graban says:

    Mark F: Good point. Yes, I’m sure it’s possible to “unlearn” the bad habits from GM (like Convis did, as you point out).

    But, as far as doing things the “Toyota Way”, I suspect there a “big picture” aspect where they absolutely want you to do things the Toyota Way, including having an attitude that says “I can follow a standard process, yet also use my brain to help improve that process.” At the detailed level, Toyota will “teach you how to build a truck” but they will (more importantly) teach you how to improve the process of building a truck.

    So, from that standpoint, I’m sure Toyota doesn’t want you to always do things the way they taught you (from a detailed “use this tool to put this bolt there” level).

    You can screen out people who don’t naturally take interest in making things better. At GM, I worked with a ton of people who were quite satisfied with failing and had no internal drive to make anything better. Most likely, any of that spirit had long been drummed out of them by GM management.

    So, Toyota will hire for that personality characteristic and then, because people are following the Toyota Way, NOT beat that spirt out of them. That’s respect for people, to me.

  3. Dave Duckworth says:

    I think you generalized too much about GM workers. I have worked for GM many years and have seen the people who are satisfied to just get along and have had them work for me. They are the small minority. Most people want to come to work to do a good job and have a feeling that their contributions mattered. I have had some excellent team members who were the subject matter experts in the company. When an engineer wanted to make a change they would come to the plant and we would arrange to have the people relieved of their duties.
    It is not the people. It is how we as management create the enviroment to use their expertise.

  4. Mark Graban says:

    Dave — yes, it’s a generalization, but I don’t blame GM workers. I make it common practice here to blame GM management for the attitudes of the workers. The workers have a lot of wounds inflicted on them by management. I know this from first hand working experience at GM. Lousy management was the problem, but the workers accumulate the scars and bad attitudes as a result. It’s sad, but I wouldn’t hire someone out of GM, or if I did, I would be VERY careful in selecting someone who still had a good attitude.

  5. Dave Duckworth says:

    I’m sorry your experience with GM was not benefical. Don’t let a small slice of the company taint your view. Objectivity should be the focus.
    I’ve worked for General Motors for 37 years and have witness the slide and the reasons why. I have also had less than competent managers but I have had outstanding bosses who I worked by butt of for because of their leadership and desire get get things done. Inside of GM now, things are more focused. There is an expectation of delivering results and improving every process by leveraging our Global Knowledge.
    I would think that no matter what the person’s past employer was every business should be very careful in selecting someone. You’ll find fewer and fewer people with bad attitudes or an entitlement mentality now at GM.

  6. Mark Graban says:

    My experience with GM *was* beneficial, I never said otherwise. There certainly were good people at GM and I learned from many of them.

    I’m sure there’s fewer people with bad attitudes, mainly because there’s fewer people overall. And that’s top management’s fault, not the fault of the workers, engineers, middle managers, etc.

    I hope you’ll keep contributing to the blog.

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