Disrespectfully mugged by a coffee vending machine (#12)

A week or two ago Mark Graban wrote this great pieceabout Toyota and it's response to a plant shutdown. The core of the article being a demonstration of "Respect for People" beyond merely peddling the words, as many businesses do. As a result of this article, "Respect for People" has been on my mind of late.

Over the years I've consumed enough toxic coffee from vending machines to kill a small horse. Quality varies of course, bland being the high watermark, undrinkable the low. The offender vendor pictured above set me to thinking about respect. 

Three times in two days I was mugged by the above machine. The first time it taunted me by dispensing the delicious brew (minus the cup) directly into the drip tray. The second time it kept my change and on the third occasion delivered half a tepid cupful, a result of sorts I guess. 

Now, I'm fairly hardened to these shenanigans having been in 100 plus businesses over the years but I'm not the point here. The people who work there every day are. We lean people tend to talk about "Respect For People" in abstract terms and bang on, quite rightly, about things like HRD, engagement, autonomy and recognition. 

The risk is that we miss the basic, practical respect requirements and set about building a house of cards. If your people are on their feet for 8 hours a day snatching a break where they can, do they really want to spend it sat at a cracked, filthy table watching the flies dance around an overflowing waste bin...deciding whether or not to play coffee machine roulette.

It strikes me that respect for people starts with giving your people a large enough, well lit, clean break area at a comfortable temperature with a functioning vending machine.

This is why a visit to the canteen and rest areas is one of the first things I do to decide whether I want to work with a business. Do yourself a favour and stop mugging your employees to make a solid start on the road to "Respect for People".

(By the way, this edition should have been about Team Leaders and Kaizen skills but I went for this topic as a pre-requisite to being engaged in Kaizen)



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