Do you ‘Gemba’?
Various management styles can either promote or neglect safety and help to prevent injuries on the job.
We recently came across part of Toyota’s production management strategy that might be worth your consideration regardless of your work setting.
It’s called using “gemba walks,” named after the Japanese word for “real place.” It boils down to permeating a safety culture by management mixing regularly with people doing the work, regardless of the task, on the sales floor or production line.
When working with employees on the line, discussing how and why a job is performed in a certain way, employees will often suggest novel ideas for safety improvement. This type of cooperation develops a level of respect and trust that further solidifies relationships between management and employees. If you have ever watched the reality TV show called Undercover Boss, the process of gemba is like that.
Sometimes we create policies or procedures from behind a desk. Working with line employees to learn their jobs will not only improve an understanding of how the work is performed, it will also help build a relationship with employees. This level of trust, in turn, encourages direct feedback to you on how to improve processes and is another way to ensure that solutions align with how the work is safely and productively performed. As you walk around the shop or office and take some time to understand and learn the work that employees perform, you will have a better understanding of what the safety needs are for a particular task.
Read about effective ways to introduce gemba walks at your workplace.