Shift Start, Starts Employee Attitude

How many time have we told ourselves “How goes my Monday will define how goes my Week!”


Time for an “attitude adjustment” and this is where some of the methodologies of Lean ruly can make an impact on your Team Member’s attitudes. So let us explore some of the subtle and not so subtle attitude adjusters …


One of the key learnings that I absorbed during my training with Toyota was the importance of standing and observing in the middle of the plant 15 minutes before line start and lingering for 15 minutes after line start .. Why?


In the middle of the plant suspended from the ceiling was a large Andon Board showing all of the occupied work stations. As our Team Members arrived to their stations this was signaled by the respective Andon Light turning green … we desired that our members where in their stations at least 3 minutes prior to line start so they could immerse into the ambiance of their station.


We stood, We observed … we did no action … we observed. As the line started we cast a critical eye at the board to see if any Yellow signals would appear … this meant a Team Member had a concern or an issue that needed resolution … but not imperative enough to force a line stop … we took significant notice of these yellows for further follow-up ….


But heaven forbid should the deadly Red signal appear ... this meant a Team Member had an issue large enough to warrant stopping the line ... this was drastic call to action in order to quickly resolve the member’s concern. The Andon Board is a strong differenator for Toyota since it is the visible attribute of Jidoka ... where any Team Member is allowed to stop the line in order that a problem is not passed to the next team member of they and along with their Team Lead are not able to resolve it.


Later as we progressed with our career and while visiting facilities my favorite request is permission to stand an observe a shift start or shift exchange ... it is so telling ... and you learn so much about the culture and attitude ...


Later in life ... I stood in the middle of my plant during shift exchange observing that golden time of 15 minutes before shift end and 15 minutes into the next shift which actually extended to 30 minutes and here is what I observed!


As the shift came to an end the hum of activity slowly descended into silence ... OK I thought, the employees are cleaning up their work areas and completing paperwork ... but I also observed them migrating and mingling at the time clock ... a waste of human capital .. perhaps just a few minutes but I had 60 people standing and waiting (1 hour of productivity).


As the new shift started the dreaded silence continued and continued for the first 30 minutes. This of course warranted investigation and discussion with our Team Members and here is what I was told “ I had to clean and organize my work area before I could start production and I am getting tired of management not resolving this situation after repeated requests ...”


Actually, this is what was really happening ...


The work area was left clean and organized ... but not to their desired orientation. With 5S applied the work area would still be organized in a predictable manner. This way the Team Member could adjust their work area faster and start production sooner


The attitude impact is much greater ...


Team Member arrives and finds his area to their dissatisfaction ... Team Member gets upset.


Thinking that Management does not care or even care about them because it appears, they are favoring the outgoing shift ... they slip further into a negative attitude and lack emotional attachment


The lack of Emotional Attachment translates into their workmanship which most likely will not be at the professional level you anticipate ..


The lack of Professional workmanship creates poor quality ...


The customer ultimately suffers and I have an employee with a poor attitude who is not engaged.


So simple 5S (it does not have to be perfect, yet) can create a more positive attitude and improve your productivity. Next week we explore do you want a “U”, “V” or “—” shift start?

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