95% of the conversations that go on in the Guided Imports office would probably bore most readers to tears. But here’s a conversation I had with our Quality Control Manager, Salvador Orozco.
We had just finished reading a recent blog post on Renaud Anjoran’s QualityInspection.org that goes into detail about how a lot of the work instructions given to factory workers are entirely worthless.
Renaud essentially explains major things such as safety, quality and maintenance considerations are rarely followed. Not surprisingly, this often results in the sorts of defects we’re all too well aware of.
Sal made an interesting point regarding factories’ lax interest in providing proper work instructions. Sal explained, “I think most Chinese factories don’t provide any training to their employees. Workers are seen as an expense rather than an investment, so training and incentive may often be out of the question.” He paused, sighed and said, “I’ll also be more blunt and say most factory workers don’t want to think or do more than they have to. ”
There are no incentives in most Chinese factories for workers to give their own input. Usually it’s one boss making all the decisions. I will go as far and say that workers are incentivized NOT to give their input to improve workplace procedures and NOT to question the establishment as it may offend the workplace supervisor/managers/etc. I think this kind of thinking leads to a toxic workplace environment where no innovation or improvement can take place. Like Renaud’s article says, workers are getting paid by the unit. If they spot a problem it may halt production and ultimately cut into their pay.
Sal went on to say, “I certainly can’t speak for Chinese society, but I am under the impression that most Chinese manufacturing workers will feel more comfortable following rules. I think setting rules and with clear visible mistake proof instructions is the way to go. Literally, go over production instructions before production starts and have them sign a piece of paper that explains that they read the instructions. It seems like micromanaging, but I think it’s essential in this line of work. If issues arise, a production manager can go down the line and see where the mistakes were made. Perhaps incentives can be offered for workers who spot defects. But then again someone can cheat the system and start making defects on purpose. Having seen what I’ve seen, I totally expect that to take place! Haha”
Renaud’s article, What Good Assembly Work Instructions Look Like can be found here.