ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

July 1999

Teams That Work And Those That Don't

Teaching Dollars And Cents Makes Sense

Cycle-Time Redesign

Baldrige Winner Wins Again

Be Careful What You Ask For

by Peter Block
Sorry We're Closed: Diary Of A Shutdown

Brief Cases
Business News Briefs

Views for a Change

Book Review

Site Unseen

The Quality Tool I Never Use

The Quality Tool I Never Use

Michael Glowacki
Senior Training Coordinator
Elkay Manufacturing Company
Broadview, Ill.

Michael Glowacki is a Senior Training Coordinator with Elkay Manufacturing Company. He has worked with several companies helping employees become leaders and team members. He is formally educated and serves on the AQP Board of Directors.

What is the tool that wouldn't work for you?
The stockade, the whip and the rack are improvement tools popularized during the 18th century. The idea behind them was that if you made a mistake, or didn't conform to requirements, the use of these tools would prevent a recurrence. The complement to these punitive tools - the performance bonus - was introduced in the same era by the managerial visionary Ebeneezer Scrooge when he offered Bob Cratchet an extra piece of coal for quality scribing.

Why didn't it work or why is it useless?
The stockade and the rack substituted downtime for poor quality. Both results are costly. The whip is just too messy. And, with all the concern over blood borne pathogens, a real health problem. Today we use progressive discipline, which does not imply that it is a revisionist's or reformer's version of punishment. It gets progressively more punitive until the employee gives up his or her efforts to sabotage product or gets terminated (not fatally).

What is really learned in this process is an intense dislike for the punisher and deviously unique ways to make poor performance look good. The afterglow of a bonus lasts about as long as the heat from Cratchet's piece of coal. Sure Bob's performance improved as the burning ember removed the stiffening chill from his fingers. But darn if the ungrateful wretch didn't return to his careless ways the next day. And, the next time he did something right he expected two pieces of coal.

How would you fix the tool?
The tool is not as important as is the system in which it is used. Rewards correlate with improved performance when the reward is given for improving the system. Although it may sound that way, this is not a chicken and egg thing. When we go to employees and ask for their involvement in finding ways to change the process it is only fair that the profit enhancements are shared with them. This is not reward. It is fair and equitable treatment.

The "reward" tool can be fixed by using all the other tools that others have claimed to never use. The challenge is to provide an environment in which base pay is fair, the work is interesting, calculated risks are valued and well-intentioned mistakes are tolerated.

What words of counsel/warning would you give to someone else before they used the tool?
Don't be cheap.

July '99 News for a Change | Email Editor
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