Motivation In the Workplace

Advice from the former Executive Managing Director of The Toyota Motor Corporation

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For the Japanese version 職場の動機づけ, click here.

Angela M. Corriero, Process Improvement Japan with Mr. Yamauuchi, Vice Chairman, Aisin Seki


Motivation in the workplace is key!
An exclusive interview with Executive Vice Chairman Yasuhito Yamauuchi, Aisin Seki, Japan.
Aisin Seki is one of the major Toyota Group companies. It is also a fortune 500 company. Mr. Yamauchi, elected Vice Chairman in 2009, served as the President of Aisin Seki from 2005 to 2009. Prior to that, he was Executive Managing Director of The Toyota Motor Corporation from 2001 to 2005. Managing all production plants internationally.
Photo above: Mr. Yasuhito Yamauchi, Aisin Seki left, Ms. Angela M. Corriero, Process Improvement Japan, right.

Process Improvement Japan had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Yasuhito Yamauuchi to discuss his views on Total Quality Management and Lean Kaizen implementation. What came out was the link between successful lean management and motivation in the workplace. An understanding, Mr. Yamauuchi says, excellent companies around the world have in common.

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Managing Success

“Effective Total Quality Management and Lean Kaizen implementation starts with the thorough implementation of the job`s basic work standards. After standardization has been decided, it has to be practiced exactly. In order to practice the standards perfectly, workers must know the true meaning and value of each standard – not only in theory. They must have the skill and knowledge to put it into practice. Then, it is the supervisor`s duty to check and confirm the standards have been put into practice exactly. The role of the supervisor is a very important one. Education and training to supervisors is essential. We create standardization based on the supervisor`s skill and knowledge; with the benefits for the company in mind. Supervisors are the link between the front line workers and upper management. To become a supervisor at Toyota Motor Corporation or Aisin Seki, takes a lot of experience.

Process Improvement Japan Gemba Kaizen

Where Gemba kaizen comes in
Sometimes, implementation of work standards is not enough. The operators may carry out the work sequence and standards but feel some uneasiness – this is the time for them to suggest kaizen.
The key is to create a working environment where workers can suggest improvements.
Work standards must be followed, but once workers realize that a particular standard is not enough, it is the time for kaizen. When there is a need for Kaizen, supervisors must be able to improve the work sequence or fix the abnormality. Motivation in the workplace creates momentum for effective gemba kaizen implementation
Photo above: A worker explains his gemba kazien suggestion.

For details on kaizen and lean manufacturing principles, click here.

On workforce management

Upper level (above supervisors) must understand the Kaizen philosophy and the importance of motivation in the workplace. Actually, it`s front line workers` ideas and suggestions which must be absorbed into the upper levels of management. Kaizen implementation is truly a bottom- up approach to effective management. In the West, there is a separation between blue collar and white collar workers. If blue collar workers must follow white collar rules, it inhibits effective Kaizen, employee engagement and employee motivation – This inhibits cost reduction and profit maximization. For tips on workplace motivation in continuous improvement activity, click here.

How success is culminated, one step, one worker at a time:
A company is built up by a culmination of individual efforts. Section to department to Company wide. This is something we`ve been doing at Toytota from the beginning. It`s nothing special, just the way of doing business. Material costs are pre-determined by the market. Therefore, our strategy has long been:

Increase Performance Rates to increase Profit.

Key in The Toyota Production System: The Elimination of Waste
When busy, it is very difficult to reduce waste, implement continuous kaizen and lean 5s consistently. After the Lehman shock, it became easier to do this as we had lower production demands. The results have been impressive.
Although, we have not reached our pre-Lehman production levels, our profit level has been increasing rapidly.

This is the power of the Toyota Production System fundamentals of Standardization, Just-In-Time manufacturing, lean 5s and continuous kaizen.

For more details on The Toyota Production System`s view on profit and the elimination of waste, click here.

Motivation in the Workplace is Essential

Process Improvement Japan - Motivation in the Workplace

Unless we have vitalized front line workers, we cannot be successful. They are the ones who actually produce the product and the profit. Our job in management, is to make them energized. The corporate culture must be vitalized. At the factory sites, I tell workers, `you are the people who actually create profit through your skills and wisdom. Material costs are pre-determined by the market. How do we increase profits? You. Through your skills and performance.`
Unless employees are motivated, we cannot create a good attractive company.

Managers, directors and supervisors must understand this or their system won`t work. Leadership Styles are important.
As a leader, I have to communicate the corporate vision to all members of the company and must show that we are very concerned about our vision and our future direction. Whenever I have time, I visit the Gemba of all divisions. I visit people. Because I am in a high position, If I call others to come, it`s no good. No, I go to them.”

CASE STUDY: Motivation Theory & Employee Engagement, click here.

How to motivate employees, click here.

Mr. Yamauuchi praised Proctor and Gamble`s corporate philosophy, “Proctor and Gamble share the same idea. They pay good attention to employees. We see things in common among excellent companies throughout the world.”

For Mr. Yamauchi`s view on employee engagement, click here.

Richard Branson Agrees

Respect, appreciation and motivation in the workplace go hand in hand according to the founder of Virgin Group. Watch his interview:

For Leadership Styles, click here.

Business Process Improvement and Motivation in the Workplace go hand in hand, click here for more details.

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