Monday, January 17, 2011

Ten Ways to Show Respect for People

The power behind Lean is a management's commitment to continuously invest in its people and promote a culture of continuous improvement.  The Toyota Way can be briefly summarized through the two pillars that support it: Continuous Improvement and Respect for People.

Many companies fall short on respecting their people. Not for lack of effort but for misunderstanding what constitutes treating employees with genuine respect, as opposed to being polite and considerate.

Here are ten ways you can respect people in your organization.

Listen harder.  Obviously there are times when you're busy for extended discussions.  But you need to set aside times when you can listen carefully to employee's problems, reactions, concerns, and suggestions.

Look at people when they talk.  Good listening means being willing to stop working computer, close a door, stop reading your email, or only answer emergency calls. Give the speaker your full attention, and let them know they are getting your full attention.

Keep your promise. By keeping your word to someone, you not only establish yourself as a person of integrity, but make the other person feel as though you value them.

Be on time. Another way to demonstrate that you value someone, is by treating their time as though it is valuable. Nothing says this better than being punctual.  Don't waste others time.

Encourage. Sometimes when we hear a silly idea, it's easy to shoot down someone's hopes and dreams, or otherwise make them feel unimportant. Genuinely encouraging someone could be very empowering and liberating.

Take care of your work environment. Your co-workers can see your work space, especially if you are in a cubicle paradise. If you keep your work space and the common areas clean, everyone will be calmer when they are around you.

Let the buck stop with you. This means take responsibility for your own faults and your successes.  Don't claim other people's work as your own, and don't push your failures onto a co-worker.

Create a Learning environment.  Developing your people shows respect for them.  Building explicit (book) and tacit (hands on) knowledge and distributing it is equally important.

Allow mistakes.  The real source of power of Lean lies in its ability to learn from mistakes, and to continuously improve.  Mistakes are seen as opportunities to improve and not as something that needs to be monitored and punished.

Go to the Gemba.  You can't genuinely listen if you aren't there.  Go to where the action is happening and seek the facts.  Lean implementation takes place on the floor, not in the office.

There are many other ways to demonstrate respect for people. These ten constitute a solid foundation of Toyota's pillar, respect for people.  How do you show respect?

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  1. Tim-excellent list! It doesn't sound hard but it's easier said than done. The key is to take the time to do it right. Thanks for sharing.


  2. I would also like to add, another way of showing respect is not to take problems away from people.

  3. List is very useful. As quality engineer I'm a key player to help improve.
    So working with the list in mind will help me assisting production people.

    - Jos

  4. thank you very much