Readers of this blog know that I’m a big fan of Training Within Industry programs. They were at the roots of Lean, along with other things. Although we usually talk of Job Methods as the ancestor of Kaizen, I would like to make a small focus today on Job Relations and how it is sound advice when it comes to change management.
The JR cover page states the following about the purpose of the program:
The Training Within Industry program of Job Relations was developed in order to provide management with a tool whereby supervisors could acquire skill of leadership.
Now, reading the associated card, one can see the following notices:
A supervisor gets results through people.
People must be treated as individuals.
I’m not going to review the whole program or card, but would like to stress how JR could make for a good training for any change agent, especially managers when then need to lead a change on their perimeter.
Foundations for good relations
First, there are some fundamental points stressed in JR as how to behave with people and maintain good relations. Two are worth stressing in the context of change:
How often are we seeing changes that are not told in advance and where the affected persons’ ability are not used in the change? I don’t see these two points as being separated, but as working together.
Indeed, it’s been recognized over and over that people are less likely to resist change when they understand the reasons behind it and they get a change to participate in it (by using their abilities).
By keeping the JR card with you and studying it thoroughly, you increase your chances of managing your people respectfully.
JR method step 1: Get the facts
The first step of the JR method is about “getting the facts”. Late Lean literature talks of “grasping the situation”, which is very similar, if not identical.
Worth mentioning though is the “Get opinions and feelings” item. From a systems thinking point of view, it’s good as it fosters different perspectives on the situation. Now, this item is not detailed on the card, but it’s the only one being given a list of key points on how to achieve it, if you do the hard work of reading the sessions outline (synthesis available in session V):
How to get opinions and feelings
Encourage individual to talk about what is important to him
Don't jump at conclusions
Don't do all the talking yourself
How’s this for a “manager as coach” behavior? How often have you encountered a manager that really listens to you that way?
JR method step 3: Take action
Step 3 is interesting here for the two following points:
What’s important here to me is when these two points of the method are combined with the preceding two fundamental points mentioned above. Indeed, a manager or change leader should not fear from getting help from the very people who are going to be impacted by the change. By reflecting in how s/he could get help from the people, by using their ability, he considerably augments the chances of the change going well.
Seeking help and involving others is not a sign of failure, but of sound responsibility.
(From a systems thinking point of view again, it helps achieve requisite variety with respect to the change perimeter).
I hope to have shown how the use of TWI Job Relations method can help in leading change. Of course, this is a bit slower than traditional “command and control” way of managing change, but I bet the JR way has a lot more long-term beneficial consequences than the traditional way.
TWI programs session manuals can be downloaded for instance from http://www.trainingwithinindustry.net/.