Point 12 – Pride of Workmanship is Power

Pride of Workmanship is Power

Permit pride of workmanship
Remove the barriers that rob hourly workers, and people in management, of their
right to pride of workmanship. This implies, among other things, abolition of
the annual merit rating (appraisal of performance) and of Management by
Objective. Again, the responsibility of managers, supervisors, foremen must be
changed from sheer numbers to quality.

Dr.W. Edwards Deming

The Never Ending Motivator – Pride of Workmanship

There was a Disney movie about the Jamaican bobsled team, titled “Cool
Runnings”. One of the characters, Junior, lacked self-confidence. He
lacked pride in workmanship. One of his teammates gave him guidance. He had
Junior look into the mirror and see “pride” and “power” and a “crazy [person] that
didn’t take nothing from nobody”. It was a turning point for both Junior and
ultimately the team. Creating that kind of pride in workmanship in employees is
the most effective thing a manager can do.

The manager doesn’t need to stand over the operator or pour through charts to see
if the employee did it right. The manager could go play golf because the person
with pride of workmanship is making the best part possible without supervision.

Instilling Pride of Workmanship

When I worked in pharmaceuticals, pride of workmanship was the first thing we
instilled. We simply asked each employee to ask themselves one question;
“Would you want your loved one to take this particular bottle of medicine?”. If the answer was “no”, we didn’t want to sell it
because someone’s loved one would be taking it.

I’ve had clients say to me, yes but something like medicine is easy to create pride in workmanship but our
product isn’t. Generally, I ask them where is the product used and if it fails
what is the worst that can happen. A plastic disposable cover can be sharp and
cut the user or provide a choking hazard. A component in a car or truck or
school bus can fail and the vehicle could crash.

If you can do a Failure Mode and Effect Analysis, you have a tool for instilling pride of workmanship. If
the IT system fails will a company shutdown and put people out of work? If a
report is sloppy and sends management down a wrong path will the company close?
If a customer service rep is surly and the client goes somewhere else, what is
the long run impact on the company? It is the manager’s job to teach the
employee why they are important to the company and should take pride in

Killing Pride of Workmanship

Unfortunately, killing pride of workmanship is all too easy. Ignore an employee when they warn
you of a problem. Ta-da, pride in workmanship just took a major blow and
“I just keep my head down and my mouth shut and collect my pay”
becomes the attitude of the day. Give the employee bad tools, either machines
needing maintenance or reports filled with bad or missing information and the
result is a loss of pride in workmanship. Set an arbitrary goal the employee
can not possible achieve and you rob them of pride of workmanship. Tell the
employee to do a task, reprimand them if they do it wrong but don’t give them
the tools to measure and know if they did it right or wrong and frustration
will kill pride of workmanship. Killing pride of workmanship is way too easy.

You Matter = Pride in Workmanship

To create and maintain pride in workmanship in your staff, make sure they know
they matter. Listen if they tell you “there is a problem” and don’t
shoot the messenger. If they are wrong take the time to make sure they know why
it isn’t a problem.

Each time a manager helps to grow the understanding of an
employee in job knowledge, the manager creates pride in workmanship. The cost
is small, no big raise, no creative title, just recognition that the employee
makes a difference in the overall performance of the company.

When a manager creates pride in workmanship their employees they create the best sales tool in
the world – consistent high quality product. When an employee knows they are
creating high quality product their pride in workmanship increases and the
company reaps the benefit.


  1. I was wondering if you could help me out….

    I work in a plant which has three shifts working on a one operator/machine operation. We have a culture where operators are attemping to hide parts and fudge numbers to make their numbers look good.

    This creates problems because we are not all working for the same goal for delivering parts to the customer and they are not working as a team.

    Can you suggest how we get them to work in a team and still get an idea how each person is doing on their shift?

  2. There are several things going on in your situation. Are you paying by piece or hourly? Do they get a bonus if they get a certain percentage over rate? If you are paying by piece or the bonus on a percentage, the fundemental issue is something you may not have control over. At that point you have to implement robust count controls, it maybe a cycle counter on a machine or moving the parts and having someone else do the counting. Alternately you could look at the material issued versus the parts made, both good and bad to identify when parts are being hidden.

    The root cause of the problem is why the employees are worried about the counts.You need to identify this and determine if there is anyway to change it. If it has to do with how people are paid, it is going to be very difficult to change. I would suggest you chart changeovers and delays to producing parts by shift. If there is an imbalance and pay is related to quantity produced, the negatively impacted shift is going to have the perception they are being treated upfairly and you need to work with management to address the difference (set up pay, or deduct set up/downtime from the available hours to produce parts and pay on the available hours).

    If all 3 shifts have reasonably similar downtime, you need to interview the operators and get their perception. Perception is reality. If a shift has an incorrect perception you need to talk to the operators and post the information so they accept and adjust their perception, multiple interviews will be necessary to make sure the perception has changed.

    Once you are reasonably confident the operators believe all 3 shifts are being fairly treated, you then do a small group training pointing out the negative impact of hiding parts on the customer, on the company, and on the employee.

    I hope this helps. Let me know if it worked.

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