Discover the secrets of Toyota’s legendary culture and leadership with Mike Hoseus, renowned industry consultant and author of The Toyota Culture. In this episode, Mike shares his experience working with 1000 people at Toyota and his expertise in developing and implementing transformation initiatives in various organizations. Joel and Mike delve into the key principles that drive Toyota’s success, including how to create a culture of problem solvers among frontline employees and maintain a remarkably low turnover rate. Whether you’re in manufacturing or any other industry, this episode offers practical insights on how to emulate Toyota’s success and build a strong organizational culture. Tune in now to learn from one of the industry’s leading experts!

Tell us about yourself and your journey.

I started my career almost accidentally or providentially, working for Toys R Us after college. When my wife was transferred to a hotel in Lexington, Kentucky, I stumbled upon an opportunity to work for the new Toyota plant being built nearby. At first, I was hesitant because I knew nothing about manufacturing or cars. But after being convinced by a Japanese trainer, I decided to apply and was fortunate enough to become the 201st employee at the Toyota plant in Georgetown, Kentucky. I started as a supervisor with 20 people on the plant floor and grew with the company, eventually becoming an area manager and plant manager, overseeing over 1,000 employees. My journey also led me to human resources, where I discovered the importance of people systems in the production process.

What do you mean by “working for those people”?

At Toyota, we have a people-first culture that emphasizes servant leadership and developing our employees. This is in contrast to the traditional top-down approach where managers think they have employees working for them. We believe that by working for our employees, we can empower and engage them to improve quality and lower costs. This approach has been a cornerstone of the Toyota Production System and The Toyota Way, which prioritize doing things with higher quality, in a shorter amount of time, and at a lower cost. It’s not about cutting corners or reducing the workforce, but about respecting our people and utilizing their skills to provide more value to our customers.

How does a people-first culture affect employee tenure?

At Toyota, we’ve measured the impact of our people-first culture on employee tenure and turnover. We have consistently had less than 3% turnover per year, which is significantly lower than many other companies. This is a real cost savings, as turnover can cost up to half a year’s salary per employee. By investing in our employees and developing them, we empower them to contribute to higher quality and lower costs. This creates a win-win situation where employees are more engaged and committed to the company, and the company benefits from their skills and knowledge.

What is the importance of team huddles?

Team huddles are a crucial part of the Toyota Production System, where we have 5-minute huddles in the morning and afternoon with over 6,500 employees. These huddles may seem like a waste of time, but they are actually a productive way to improve communication, collaboration, and problem-solving among team members. By focusing on the most important issues and identifying potential problems, we can improve efficiency and productivity on the plant floor. It’s not about discussing irrelevant topics or setting unrealistic goals, but about working together to achieve our common goals and creating value for our customers.

What’s something that you believe that if everyone else in the world believed too, would make the world a better place?

It’s the respect for every individual. If we truly believe that, and truly respected every individual, no matter what they could or couldn’t do for us, how would we treat them? I think our behaviors and actions would be different.