Some companies look upon their staff as an expense, with costs that must be met for wages, benefits, and employment taxes. These companies don’t always treat their workers well, using layoffs as the first action in cost cutting to boost the bottom line. As a result, they don’t reap the rewards of having an inspired and dedicated staff.
Viewing your workers as a valuable resource can transform your company’s performance. While they don’t appear as an asset on the balance sheet, they are certainly something to be highly valued and treated well.
Case study in refocusing on staff
Take the case of ACE Metal Crafts, a stainless steel fabrication company founded in 1960. After working with Toyota, this manufacturing company embraced the Toyota Production System, or TPS, to make small changes to their manufacturing process for big results. As a result of following TPS, ACE saw dramatic changes in the company, with upticks in sales and revenues and, as a result, a growing number of employees. Toyota recently released a mini-film highlighting Toyota’s Effect on ACE when they’ve shared their production and process ideas. Check it out here.
When I think about Toyota, ACE Metal Crafts, and other manufacturers and hear the term TPS, I’m imagining procedures to get the production line working more efficiently. While this is the result of implementing TPS, it is derived from making changes in a company’s culture rather than changing procedural processes. TPS is often referred to as lean manufacturing or lean production. To become lean takes the input of everyone involved — workers and management. To make this happen the focus of the company has to shift to employees by viewing them as the company’s most valuable resource.
More about TPS
Of course there are specific procedures, methods, and tools to learn and practice in order to put TPS into effect and get the most out of it, but the driving force behind the TPS is people and what they mean to the business. In turn TPS makes a difference in the lives of employees.
The mantra for TPS is kaizen, which is a Japanese word loosely translated to mean continual improvement. Because of this, improvement becomes a way of thinking for workers and management. When people are part of improving something, they feel a sense of accomplishment and positive energy. As suggested earlier, when employees are valued, they become inspired and dedicated. And I might add that when a company is in growth mode, there’s greater job security for workers, which eliminates anxiety.
So how does TPS work when it comes to employees? It starts with respect; each employee is part of the company’s team and commands respect. With respect in mind, each employee is expected to participate in creating processes that are used to improve the company. Because each employee feels valued and respected, and has input in creating processes, all employees are less frustrated and more productive. It’s as simple as that.
Of course, under TPS there are specific ways of doing things for problem solving, auditing results, and standardizing processes using proven methods that Toyota created and refined for its plants. However, when the system is implemented by a manufacturer, it can only succeed when the company’s culture is healthy and employees are engaged.
It’s worth noting that earlier this year ACE Metal Crafts was awarded the Psychologically Healthy Workplace award from the Illinois Psychological Association. ACE Metal Crafts’ numbers speak for themselves and are a testament to how Toyota’s Production System can be used by manufacturers and all other types of businesses in the U.S. to grow by starting with a new focus on employees.
You can find information in a short film on the Toyota Effect.
This post was created in partnership with Toyota. All opinions expressed in the post are my own and not those of Toyota.