Toyota. Human Resource Development

From Mankin, D. (2009), Human Resource Development, OUP (p.103-104) Toyota, valued at US 188 billion or 98 billion, is the worlds second biggest car maker, just behind General Motors of the US, but is expected to claim the top spot in 2009.The potential key competitors of the future are likely to be from South Korea, China, and India where companies such as Hyundai, Kia, and Tata are making cheap cars of a good quality.

Toyota has been able to combine product quality and reliability with low pricing, fuel efficiency, and good design. It has been successful at aligning its operational activities with strategic goals. The company is driven by what it terms the Toyota Way rather than by cost reduction (which characterizes many Asian and Far East manufacturing companies). The Toyota Way has been evolving since the company was originally founded in 1926.

It is all about the culture of the company and emphasizes mutual trust and respect for everyone involved in and with the business Toyota is regarded as one of the most efficient companies in the world because of the Toyota Production System (TPS) based on lean production and kaizen (continuous improvement) principles. These are at the heart of its approach to business strategy. The approach adopted by Toyota has resulted in the institutionalization of lean manufacturing skills and kaizen. Over 20 million suggestions in 40 years have been generated by the companys suggestion system which is only one aspect of its approach to continuous improvement.

The company places great emphasis on teamwork that reflects a culture characterized by collaboration, cooperation, and trust. The company believes that teams are better at solving problems, and that people learn from each other. In terms of its approach to HRD the principal emphasis is on training. The HR function itself is viewed as playing a key leadership approach in the companys improvement processes and has a coordination role when it comes to training. The training and development team is part of a broader Human System which focuses on development, recruitment, and retention.

The aim of the Human System model is to make everyone a member of the Toyota culture. In the US a corporate university1 (University of Toyota) has been created to provide training and consultancy on Toyotas business practices, particularly lean manufacturing. The principal strength of the company has always been its approach to on-the-job training although this has become increasingly supplemented with classroom training (although the latter was not greatly appreciated in the past). The company prefers the term on-the-job development because it is felt to be broader than training.

This approach includes methods such as job rotation which reflects this broader development. Team leaders are trained as facilitators and instructors and do most of this classroom training. It is a requirement that anyone in this role has production experience. The increase in classroom training reflects the influence of globalization on the company. Employees are able to identify personal training opportunities which are referred to as self-initiated development. The training of general managers involves learning about business planning and policy, Toyota Business Practices, and several other related issues.

Most of this is handled by the Toyota Institute in Japan although job rotation is also a characteristic of this level. Toyota has always stressed the importance of recruiting people who not only have the capacity to learn but also possess the motivation and desire to do so. The company is always trying to find ways to improve the training methods it uses because people are trained with out slowing down the line. This is a challenging situation for anyone new to the job. This is because the TPS is so interconnected that to slow down one part affects the whole system. Standardized instruction methods are used across the company.

Recently, the company has been trying to drive down costs and there are concerns that this is harming its long standing reputation for quality. In the past it has found ways of realigning its strategy and operations to cope with issues such as environmental concerns without resorting to a cost reduction strategy. It will be interesting to see how the next few years turn out Questions How would you describe Toyotas approach to HRD To what extent do HRD activities appear to be vertically and horizontally aligned What are the advantages and disadvantages of Toyotas approach to HRD ZoHeF .)@FrOKj40nr59Q-M97

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