Respect for people is considered central to the JIT philosophy. Of all the issues discussed in this chapter, none departs more from traditional systems than the role of employees in a firm. According to JIT, genuine and meaningful respect for employees must exist for a company to get the best from its workers. Employees perform a great many functions in JIT, and for true JIT to exist they must be genuinely respected and appreciated. Their inputs must be valued, and they must feel secure. The key words here are genuine and meaningful. Achieving this state is sometimes difficult in environments with a history of adversarial relationships, particularly between labor and management. Managers cannot mandate genuine and meaningful respect. They cannot send out a memo on a Friday saying, “On Monday there will be genuine and meaningful respect for people!” This is something that requires a complete change in organizational culture. Often it takes much effort and time.

JIT organizations rely on all employees to work together, including management and labor. The organizational hierarchy is generally flatter in JIT than in traditional organizations, and organizational layers are not strictly defined. Great responsibility and autonomy are given to ordinary workers. All levels of employees often work in teams, and in many JIT organizations all dress the same way regardless of level, which helps break down traditional barriers and makes it easier for people to work together. ...

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