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How to improve Operator Motivation



Does anybody has a good idea how to motivate operators to do their job as good as they can. Of course it cannot be money or other things like that. Probably many of you observe that most of problems occured during manufacturing process is connected with mistakes or due to an oversight of operator.
I'm waiting for Ideas and advice (I think it could be very interesting discussion).
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operator error

How many times have I seen on a corrective action for root cause, "operator error".

"Probably many of you observe that most of problems occured during manufacturing process is connected with mistakes or due to an oversight of operator."

Most of the time, the oversight is due to poor management, supervision, lack of proper tools, methods,or procedures. If the operator(s) do not have the proper motivation, the question has to be asked, why? Take it from there.

How much inspection occures after the operator touches it?

Why should operators be motivated if inspection is to catch it?

Have the operators tried to be proactive and have been beat down by supervisors and/or managers?

The easiest thing to fall back on in operator error. From my experience, this is VERY RARELY the true root cause.:mad: :mad:


Yes, it is usually directly related to management error in training, providing the proper equipment and tools, and the necessary disciplines to verify intented results. Too often management allows operators to bypass the requirements or not follow the instructions.


GM's 5Why tool is good here, when you came to the cause of "operator's error', you have to keep asking "why" to the next level(s).

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Staff member
TNHunter makes very good points.

I have a paper in The Reading Room on this subject. When Employees Don't Follow Procedures

Here is a link to a decent little discussion about morale.

I found the subject book, "The Enthusiastic Employee" to be good, but here's the rub as with every self help book. For the thing to work, the organism (in your case, organization) must desire change or at least agree to the need.

In other words, what I am hearing you say is, "How do we make our employees more enthusiastic toward performance?" I agree with David Sirota when I follow with the question, "How do we avoid killing that enthusiasm?"

Do you see what I mean? The difference is: the first question infers the employee bears responsibility for doing well, and the second infers the organization bears responsibility. Decide which theory you are willing to subscribe to and the choices of methods may become more clear.

If your organization decides to bear repsonsibility, I suggest you use the free Baldrige survey "Are We Making Progress?" to help understand the organization areas or factors to approach for improved performance and morale. The survey makes a good temprature check.
It might be instructive to review Deming's Red Bead Experiment. Our own Steve Prevette is a noted re-enactor of the experiment as a teaching/learning tool. Read about Steve here:

I think a few minutes spent googling the term
"red bead" + deming will get some additional hits.

One site offers game pieces and instructions, but the materials necessary can be created in-house for a fraction of the price they charge.

The essence of this learning tool is helping participants understand the PROCESS is more often at fault than the worker when nonconformance is detected.
michu said:
Probably many of you observe that most of problems occured during manufacturing process is connected with mistakes or due to an oversight of operator.
Um... I will agree with the rest here. The question is why those mistakes and oversights happen?

Suggestion: Why not provide us with an example or two? That way we will be able to discuss our way to the root cause together.



I’ve just read your answers & article about „Red beads”. Of course I agree with all that facts mentioned there but in this case operators are responsible for 100% final control (visual-no other control is possible) and many times they failed. When I observed their job I had an impression that they didn’t put so much effort as they can. This is exactly the problem I try to solve . (Maybe I wasn’t much precise earlier-Sorry about that)


Antonio Vieira

Involved - Posts
The best way I know for improving operators motivation is to give them added responsibilities. The worst way is to give them more money...
After a little training, try to put some of your operators doing some activities that today are still being done by you. I’ve done it, and the results are unbelievable...
I even got more extra time for doing really quality management... :cool:
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