Toyota the Art of Employee Discipline

To understand the formal Toyota discipline policies concerning employees, you must first understand what it means to be a Toyota employee. In Unit 3, assignment 1, I discussed Recruiting and Selection where the potential Toyota employee has to go through several processes including personality and stress tests and several interviews to be able to get in the door. Phase two of the process includes a physical work simulation which you must pass before you move on to the interviews. So the employee is well vetted as a “good fit” prior to ever being employed at this company. In Unit 4, I discussed Training and Development of the Toyota employee.

They are indoctrinated into the mindset of “kaizen”, which means continual improvement as well as set up with an individual employee plan which incorporates personality and skill sets which will evolve over the working lifetime of the employee. One point is that when Toyota hires someone, they intend for that person to never leave the company. This may be true of most companies, but Toyota, with a low 3% turnover rate and no layoff history, (O'Brien, 2008) it actually makes this a reality.

Toyota establishes a bond of trust between management and labor early on in the life of the employee. The workers tend to look at the executive branch as trusted advisers or parental figures and rarely try to do anything to disappoint, instead they exceed expectations. Human nature being what it is, there will be some people who just do not conform and a company, either small or large, must have a process to deal with those issues. He who stops being better stops being good. — Oliver Cromwell Toyota Formal Disciplines:

Toyota has invested time, money and training into an employee so their first instinct when confronted with a problem, such as poor performance, is to involve the employee into a counseling session to identify the problem. Poor performance may be because the workload is to great or the individual has not been trained properly.

The session will be conducted with the employee's immediate supervisor and will be documented with solutions to correct the problem. The process will not stop there as the supervisor will then take the documentation to their supervisors and the HR staff and they will analyze the problem to make sure it does not happen to future employees. Toyota also offers Employment Assistance Programs (EAP) for employees who are addicted to drugs or alcohol.

The stresses associated with the job may lead to mental health problems or family crises all of which Toyota has remedies in place. They have Wellness programs and constantly search to make sure their workers have the best medical benefit packages in the industry. The end result is that if nothing can be done to fix the employee, after several warnings and counseling sessions, the employee will be let go. This should not come as a surprise to the individual because there will be a lot of documentation in place to support the firing.

Some informal processes are weekly meetings with the team and management to brainstorm how everyone is feeling about the job. There are also monthly questionnaires which employees answer about job satisfaction. Training is available both online and on the job, and questions and suggestions are welcomed and even encouraged. Each employee has a mentor who available both on and off duty to help their learners.

Labor unions would have us believe that they transfer income from rich capitalists to poor workers. In fact, they mostly transfer income from the large number of non-union workers to a small number of relatively well-off union workers. Robert E. Anderson

Toyota has been adamantly against labor unions and not for the reasons one might believe. Through their pain-staking efforts, they believe that their workers are the most well taken care of individuals in the industry (Johnson, 2010). They adapt programs and practices that work and quickly discard those that do not. They believe their people are their biggest asset and compensate them well.

One program that is an alternative to counseling is to move the individual. If there are personality conflicts or performance issues, sometimes a different location is the answer. Another program they have is to allow the individual to leave with a handsome severance package. One thing is true though, they will not invite you back if you choose this option.

I have found nothing in my research to see any program that Toyota does not offer. Faced with the recall crisis they immediately went to the drawing board and revamped the company. They have a 5 Why process which when dealing with a problem, they ask why it happened five times and follow it to a satisfactory conclusion.

Litigation problems do not seem to exist. I could find not one incident of a former employee suing Toyota except their ex-counsel, Dimitrios Biller, who accused the automaker of obstructing justice and violating civil racketeering laws. He was being faced with charges himself and most believe that his suit was frivolous in nature.

In conclusion, Toyota Motor Corporation, seems to be the child who does everything right. Even when faced with huge recalls and billions of lost revenue, their actions were not to blame their workers. They admitted their mistakes and quickly corrected them. Faced with a serious recession, they took moves to retain their employees rather than lay them off and continue to look to the future.

References:

Chappell, L. (2009, February 13). Toyota moves deeper into u.s. work cuts. Retrieved from http://www.workforce.com/article/20090213/NEWS01/302139997

Johnson, B. (2010, February 17). Toyota and the union-backed, government-led witch hunt. Big Government, Retrieved from http://biggovernment.com/brjohnson/2010/02/17/toyota-and-the-union-backed-government-led-witch-hunt/

O'Brien, M. (2008, November 08). Cultural match.Human Resources Executive Online, Retrieved from http://www.hreonline.com/HRE/story.jsp?storyId=142321206

Wiscombe, J. (2007, January 8). Toyota driving diversity.Workforce Management , Retrieved from http://www.workforce.com/article/20070108/NEWS02/301089981