How Do You Address Employee Resistance to Lean Manufacturing? | Larry Fast | IndustryWeek

“In the first six to 12 months, get the turkeys out. Don’t drag your feet.”



Michel Baudin‘s comments:

The problem with this approach is that, at the outset of Lean transformation, management doesn’t know what it’s doing. It’s not the managers’ fault, but the skills of leading a Lean transformation in this particular organization have to be learned along the way.

More often than not, the author’s version of “addressing the issue early” means firing loyal employees for disagreeing with something you later realize was wrong. And the message it sends is not one of commitment but of a mixture of brutality, incompetence and disrespect.

“Education and Training” will not convert anybody, but results will. What you have to do to achieve results in the absence of consensus is work without fanfare on projects that only involve people who are already supporting the initiative.

Finding projects that provide tangible results and are entirely under the responsibility of supporters is a skill that good Lean consultants have. You conduct these projects with the minimum amount of publicity while in progress; once they are successful, you tell everybody.

That will convert many fence-sitters and a few antagonists. You then use the project participants to transfer the knowledge and skills they have just acquired to others.

Fast’s argument is centered on two employees named Elvis and Madonna. Elvis is tool and die maker with 30 years of experience, who openly refuses to participate; Madonna, the plant engineering manager and a foot-dragger.

If Elvis is a die-hard antagonist, you try to put him in a position where he can be useful without jeopardizing your Lean transformation. If he has 30 years with the company, he has only a few more years before retirement, and can spend them passing his skills to the next generation. And make it gratifying for him, with a raise and the rank of “master craftsman.” Show the next generation how their elders’ loyalty is being reciprocated by the company and how they are being treated with respect.

As for Madonna, perhaps she is right to consider that she is being sent on a wild goose chase. An audit of all bills of materials and routings may not be the right priority. Maybe, such an audit makes more sense if focused on the target areas of the pilot projects.

See on Scoop.itlean manufacturing

3 comments on “How Do You Address Employee Resistance to Lean Manufacturing? | Larry Fast | IndustryWeek

  1. Yeah, I don’t like the idea of trying to fire people into compliance. That’s perpetuating the old fear-based command and control system. Rather than Lean somehow being about forcing people to do stuff, Lean should be about solving workplace problems that matter to them and to customers. Maybe start by providing a safer, less frustrating workplace? Those are results that matter, like you said.

  2. People don’t resist change. Look at their private lives and see the changes ‘they’ have made over the last 5 years. —

    The key to understanding this problem is to realise that people don’t resist change; they resist ‘BEING CHANGED’ & having their security threatened. All you have to do is assure them there will be job losses resulting from the changes & put them in charge of their own change process. Give them some simple problem solving tools (not six sigma), a clear direction for the required changes/improvements (*P.Q.C.D.D — E.F.S.F), time to address the issues in teams of **‘Real Experts’, a supportive management attitude & then get out of their way. You will be amazed by the results. You can see this process in operation on You-tube under ‘Sid’s Heroes’. This is an extract from a six programme TV series we made with the BBC in 1994. —

    Good luck releasing your own Heroes.
    *For the business. Improve Productivity & Quality. Reduce Costs & Delivery times. Delight Customers. —
    *For themselves. Make their jobs, Easier, Faster, Safer & more Fun/enjoyable. —
    *We must create companies that can win on the global battlefield, & are secure, challenging & enjoyable places to work. —

    **‘Real Experts’ are the people who do the work, & have first hand experience of the different elements of the problem to be solved, or the situation to be improved. —
    The survival of your organisation & the job security of your people depend upon you improving these values faster than any existing or future competitor.—

    Before we start a programme we conduct a series of 1 hour briefings (10 sessions a day with 25 people on each) with the people who will be involved in the change programme to ask for their help. We explain the above to delegates & while they don’t always believe me, when I ask them would you like to, the answer is always ‘Yes’. The rest is just letting them prove they are the ‘Heroes’ I know them to be. Watch the video to see where my confidence comes from. —

    To spike the guns of any potential resistors, at the end of the session I tell attendees that their competitors do not want them to do this, and while I think we can all understand the competitor’s position, I ask them what they think we should do to anyone in our own organisation who doesn’t want us to do it. We all agree that this is not to be allowed. – Guns spiked. Many times I have found that some of the strongest resistors can turn to be our strongest supporters.

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