Does HR work for Employees or the Company?


Lean Blog: Lean Should be Better Supported by HR

I got this email from a blog reader, name withheld:

“I read your items about annual reviews and had to email. I work for a large global corporation that says it uses Lean and Six Sigma (I guess we do to some extent). I had a concern/question I was about to go to HR about (I am new to our group). I asked a co-worker who I should go to, without talking about what the issue was, and she says ‘you can't trust her, she's the worst about talking about things that should stay confidential with HR'. So, that's not real encouraging. I guess we're not good with ‘respect for people.'”

Well, first off, I don't envy the position he is in. It sounds like the HR department isn't supporting its employees, yet alone lean. I've linked above to an earlier Jamie Flinchbaugh article about HR and lean.

Lean is partly about “respect for people.” It sounds like the company referenced in the reader's email is only thinking about lean in terms of “reducing waste.” Or, they just have some really bad HR people.

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. Sad but unfortunately all too common story. The saddest part is that it could be so easy. Just treat your workers, the ones that really create the value, like humans. Tap their experience and knowledge instead of treating them like a cost.


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