105
Chapter 10
Selected Topics on
Working with People
Introduction
There is a book listed on Amazon.com entitled If It Wasn’t for the People …
This Job Would Be Fun … . The tongue-in-cheek implication is that man-
aging things will almost always be more pleasant than managing people.
Wishful thinking aside, the reality is you need quality people to operate and
maintain your plant regardless of how automated it is. With that in mind, the
purpose of this chapter is to present some selected topics that may make the
job of managing people a little easier … and more fun.
Just like companies that say that safety is their number one priority, many
of them also say, “People are our most important asset.” But, if that is true,
why is it that so many of the people I have worked with over the years did
not feel that way about their company? Oh, do not misunderstand. These
people greatly valued their high-paying jobs, but “managers” in general were
not held in very high regard. And, in informal conversations, someone might
wistfully recall fond memories of a past manager, but he or she always
seemed to be the exception. So, what was the problem? Were those other
managers’ barriers?
From a personal standpoint, when I think about the managers for whom I
have worked, only a very few made me feel valued as an employee. Almost
none of them gave me counsel as a more experienced colleague might. It
felt more like they were judging me on a daily basis. Instead of looking for
106 ◾  Removing the Barriers to Efcient Manufacturing
something on which to compliment me, they were only interested in point-
ing out something I did not do or needed to do. In short, only a very few let
me know that they knew what my contributions were and that they valued
my work. And for those guys, I would have walked barefoot on burning hot
coals. Anyway, from my personal experiences I am now convinced that this
is the starting point for working with people—affirming their work, being
appreciative, and removing barriers that hinder their success. From my view,
there is absolutely nothing as effective or rewarding as positive reinforce-
ment. As Larry the Cable Guy might say, “That’s the truth right there. I don’t
care who you are.
Topic 1: Driving out Fear
We begin with the most important topic of all: driving out fear (Deming’s
Point 8). I used to love to quip that there are only two motivators in this
world—greed and fear; but of the two, I preferred greed. Some people are
put off by that, but I still feel it is mostly true in the workplace. If some-
one is motivated to succeed for personal advancement or monetary gain,
I have fun calling that “greed.” On the other hand, if someone else is only
motivated to do his or her job because otherwise he or she will be fired,
I say that is “fear.” If you are an overbearing boss who gives little credit to
others, you will get nothing from people in return but the latter. Fear is a
terrible barrier.
Deming told stories of factory workers he encountered in his travels who
were afraid to discuss their actual problems with their management because
they literally were afraid of losing their jobs or the factory closing. What
is unfortunate is that the information they held back due to fear may have
helped keep the factory open.
I managed a small chemical plant for a few years, and I will never forget
one of the employees who always prefaced his suggestions with, “I know
you don’t want to hear this, but … .” Boy, was he ever wrong. Whenever he
said that, I knew he had some inside information about a nagging problem
that had been neglected for years, but in the past, “No one would ever lis-
ten.” Every one of his suggestions was pure gold, but he initially assumed I
was like his previous boss who did not want to hear them. Not surprisingly,
the more things I got fixed, the more information he would give me, and the
more information he would give me, and so on.

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