Stop Demotivating Me, Lean Style
Hat tip to Curious Cat for finding this and blogging about it first. I couldn’t resist chiming in. The author brings up the old Deming philosophy approach that you can’t really motivate people, you can only demotivate them and destroy their intrinsic motivation. I love quoting Peter Scholtes about hiring “live trees” and turning them into “dead wood.”
Esther Derby lists a number of demotivators, I’ll highlight a few with Lean example or perspectives:
Surprises at the annual employee review
It’s classic Deming to rail against annual reviews. No need to elaborate myself, since Deming said it best (and Curious Cat summarizes/compiles it well). Deming was a huge influence on Toyota and their production system. I have to say, though, I don’t know if Toyota uses annual reviews or not, in Japan or elsewhere. Does anyone know?
Micromanagement: “Micromanagementâ€”dictating each detail of how a task should be doneâ€”deprives people of autonomy. It communicates that the manager believes people are incompetent and incapable of making judgments. The worst form of micromanagement is telling people how to do a task without telling them why the task matters.
Now some might accuse Lean and the Standardized Work philosophy as being a form of micromanagement. It would be “L.A.M.E.” to approach SW this way, but many do it. SW is not about managers (or consultants) telling people how to do their work because they said so. SW must be developed by the employees who do the work. I’m doing this in a hospital department right now. People do not like to be told what to do, they’ll only accept SW when they’ve had input. That doesn’t mean everyone gets their way, but they’ve been heard out and considered. Explaining “why?” is a key TPS mindset, take that extra time to not just say “make sure the label is straight” but also to explain why (“the test instrument will not read the bar code, delaying test results to the patient”). Here’s an example of the NUMMI plant doing this.
Asking for one behavior and rewarding another
This happens a lot with L.A.M.E. — we tell plant managers to “get Lean,” then we punish them for not overproducing and keeping the plant running to keep costs down. Or, we punish them for partnering with the “lowest total cost” supplier instead of picking the one with the cheapest unit cost. Of course this is demotivating!
Asking for input and then ignoring it.
It’s far easier to parrot the Toyota Way thinking of involving and engaging all employees than it is to live it every day!
I hope we don’t often use empty phrases and slogans in a Lean environment. They’re common in mass production systems, as evidenced by these “Quality Posters” that I linked to before (again, real posters). Deming said to abolish slogans, we can’t just say “Do it right the first time!” as a slogan, although it is a real Lean principle. We have to work at it, not just say it, supporting employees rather than blaming them.
People are expendable. When reducing costs means cutting employees, the message is that people aren’t an asset to invest in; people are “labor costs.”
It’s L.A.M.E. to use Lean to drive layoffs. Of course that’s demotivating!
The author has some good ways to ensure that motivation does not go away. Check out the link to read them, good stuff.