Or you might walk in
And find out I’m gone
I got to have
A little respect
Respect is the one of the key differences between successful Agile/Six Sigma/Lean initiatives and failures. Management can push agile methodologies, but if they don’t engage employees at the level of respected practitioners who will actually have to do the implementation work, the project will fail. This is because Agile/Lean and to a lesser extent Six Sigma initiatives require creativity, initiative, and dedication from everybody on the team.
Someone at work cares about me as a person.
Of the thousand or so statements Gallop asked people to rate as a description of their work life, this is one is in the top six in terms of correlation to business unit performance, reduced turnover, and job satisfaction. In other words, making this statement true for all your employees will increase your likelihood of success.
This respect is also the difference between the Toyota Production System as practiced by Toyota and Lean Manufacturing as practiced by the some large American companies. Toyota is focused on getting individual employees engaged in improving every process from the ground up. This shows they respect the line worker as one of the key sources of innovation in their company, something which I doubt you could say about GM, or Ford.
Top down enforcement of one-piece-flow, and value stream mapping, will only prove that Lean works better at Toyota. You don’t get the benefits of these things if every single human being on the plant floor is not an active part of the improvement process. And, my contention is that they will never participate if they don’t feel cared for as an individual.
So, what works for Toyota on the production line — Empowering and respecting their employees — also works for Agile Software teams. And, I’ll be willing to bet that even if you don’t go Agile or Lean, just improving the “respect for employees” metric will have an impact on your bottom line.