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Monday, March 3, 2014

The 3 A’s of Respect for People

A mature Lean organization is based on “Respect for People”.  Respect for people is about building mutual trust and human development.  Lean managers must take responsibility for other people reaching the objectives they set.  They seek to develop and engage individuals through their contribution to team performance.

There are 3 essential elements of Respect for People that start with “A” which managers need for a sustainable Lean culture:

Alignment – Means of connecting objectives and capabilities.
Tell your employees the most important goals for your organization and let them know of the progress towards those goals. Help people feel they are a part of something bigger than themselves or their job by sharing your company's overall vision. If the goals are unclear then the employees are not sure what they are being asked to do.

Autonomy - Being competent and empowered to make decisions.
Develop exceptional people and teams who follow your company's philosophy. The desire of people to be self-directed is autonomy. To create an autonomous environment where people can self-direct, you need to inspire people, and help them to discover their talents, sometimes talents they were not aware they had.

Accountability - To do what we say we will do and uphold our commitments.
To successfully empower someone, we must also assign accountability. Empowering employees without associated expectations is confusing and ineffective.   Empowerment happens when employees use the company tools to solve problems.

Lean is both sub-optimal and unsustainable without the Respect for People part. If you are serious about the longevity of Lean in your organization you will need to focus on this aspect and encourage it.

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  1. This is very useful information for helping to build a quality culture at an organization. In your opinion, would this be part of the Sustain portion of a 5S project? Or should this type of quality culture building take place before any other quality project is undertaken?

    1. Both. Culture is the hard stuff. It would be nice to think you improve the culture before improvements take place but that is unlikely. However, if you want to sustain improvement you need respect.