ISO 16949 Clause 4.1.6 - Employee motivation in a low skilled workforce


Don Reid

Employee motivation

sect 4.1.6 ISO16949

When one has a relatively low skilled workforce, has anyone determined a good set of principles to encourage employee motivation. I have tried several schemes with little or no effect (paying more wages is not an option - we are an automotive supplier!)

Jim Biz

I have used our employee newsletter at times to provide our workforce with information that hopefully allows them to relate their every day personal expieriences/interests/attitudes to our Quality system.

I have presented quality systems use to them in terms of sporting events .... something they can relate to..

IMHO any contest, professional/semi professional/amature sportsevent - even auto racing - can be related to an operational quality system. All the main inputs and expected outcomes can be related to a good system.

Executive Management - Owners
Mid level managers - Coaches
Safety - Medical Trainers
Auditors/Inspection - Referees
Procedures & work instructions - Playbooks
Workforce - Players
Customers - Paying Spectators
Standards & specifications - Rulebooks
Defects/nonconformances - Fouls, Penalty minutes, errors etc.

Respected successful companies - World Champs

The need for continious improvement - training - upgrading of skills and expected product outputs (and the results of not providing quality products) are all there..

Surley this won't work everywhere but it did seem to make sense to our folks.


Don Reid

To AJPaton - non union shop
To Randy - good idea; I may not have much of a workforce left though!!!!!
To Jim Biz - thanks for the info. We have a company newsletter. I may try to liven it up a touch.


Super Moderator
It only takes one or two for the message to get out - union or not....

Profit sharing based upon productivity also helps..... no productivity-no quality-no profit-no bucks...

Its a tough world.......


With a non-union shop you have leeway to follow Randy's suggestion more than we do here, however, chances are that your replacement workers would be even less motivated. Management by intimidation is a passe model. Although I do sometimes see its appeal.
Our workforce's most common complaint is training. They don't feel needed if they don't know why they're doing their job.
Some of our most popular classes are the ones that explain our product and shows what it does. Failure conditions are especially good, since ours are safety devices, and injuries and/or fatalities can easily occur in misapplications.
To get buy-in to systems thinking, you need to give people the overall view of the product/system.


Super Moderator
Employees should be made to feel that they are an important part of the process. A sense of "ownership" goes a long way to improving quality and quantity (productivity).

The key to ownership of the process, ergo product, is a good internal communications network. Playing I've got a secret with those individuals involved only creates resentment, half-truths and mis-understanding of the true mission and objectives of the organization.

In the Marines our "product" was the successful accomplishment of our mission. In order to get everyone on the same sheet of paper we used the term "SMEAC".
"S" situation. What's going on, where
and why.
"M" mission. What are we expected to do
(product)? What is the objective or goal?
"E" execution. How are we going to
accomplish the "mission". Would 'work
instructions be here?' Tier 3 documents
"A" administration. How is this process
going to be managed? Tier 2 documents?
"C" command and control. Who is in charge?
What are responsibilities are assigned?
Tier 1?

Organizations providing the above basic information to the line employees will gain greater employee buy-in at less expense that those organizations that choose to do otherwise.

[This message has been edited by Randy (edited 08 May 2000).]

Paul Morrow

I'm quite interested in the part motivation plays in company wide quality improvment. You seem to be infering that low skill = low motivation. Is this right? Also how have you identified low motivation. What methods have you used?


Super Moderator
Low skill = low motivation? Never have considered that myself.

How skilled are the raft builders from Haiti and Cuba? Not very skilled at boat building but motivated like hell. The reason....they have a definite defined goal to work towards. Someone, sometime told them about the USA and what it has to offer....that's communication in action.

If organizations would honestly take the time to win over the lowest of the low to it's goals, the motivation to succeed will surface.....the improvement of quality and quantity will follow.

30+ years ago we called it the "Hearts and Minds Program" over their hearts and their butts will follow....


The bottom line in business is profit and anything that keeps it from occuring is a negative factor in the equation.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out or have an MBA either.
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