Respect for humanity is such an important principle in lean manufacturing because the biggest resource in any company is the people that work there. If you are going to implement lean, you need to get the cooperation and participation from everyone in the company. The respect for humanity principle goes so much deeper however, than just the people that work there. You must have respect for the workers at all levels, the customers and suppliers, as well as the environment.

Respect For The Workers

As a leader in a lean manufacturing environment, you must treat your subordinates with respect and dignity. The people that report to you are the biggest asset you have at your disposal. Include them in upcoming changes and ideas so they may give their input. The more they are involved, the more the idea becomes their’s and the more likely they are to accept the change.

A key aspect to remember when considering respect for humanity is listening to the ideas of others. The people that work in the particular areas usually have some good ideas for improvements. By listening to the ideas, you may help refine them, if needed, into something workable. Too many times I hear good ideas from people in a production area that have not been implemented because their leaders don’t listen. Make sure you have the decency to listen to the ideas of your reports. Remember, if you respect them, they are more likely to respect you.

Respect for Customers and Suppliers

It’s much easier to treat your customers with respect than it is your suppliers as your customers are your source of income. A solid customer service policy backed with a guarantee that your customer can rely on when placing an order is a great start.The bigger problem for most companies is treating their suppliers with the same level of respect as they do their customers. One way to handle this is with the following motto; treat others as you would like to be treated. I realize it’s a simple concept, but many people have a difficult time living up to this philosophy when dealing with suppliers.

For the most part, every company is a supplier to someone else, whether it’s another company or the end consumer. If everyone throughout the supply chain treats their customers and suppliers with repsect, the ability to work through issues becomes a lot easier. A supplier is much more likely to work with their customer to resolve issues when they know the customer will work with them.

Of course there are times where a supplier will not work cooperatively with you. In these cases, you will have to pull the customer card and take the hard-nose approach. If the supplier continues down this path, resource when the opportunity presents itself. It is important to have the entire supply chain on the same page.

Respect for the Environment

The last area to consider with regards to respect for humanity is the environment. With today’s push for a green environment, it’s much easier to pay attention to the effect that you personally have on the environment. But what about your company?

Does your company have a recycle program in your office and cafeteria? Do you recycle scrap metal or plastic in your production facility? Is your packaging environmently friendly? Is your product packaged in more material than necssary? Are hazardous waste materials properly disposed of? These are all important aspects to consider when trying to play a role in maintaining the environment. Regular audits (as well as outside programs such as ISO 14001) will help your company to do it’s part. Helping to keep the environment clean is probably one of the best ways to ensure your company’s respect for humanity goes a long way.