top of page

Emotional Attachment Creates Employee Engagement

Updated: Mar 5, 2021

I learned about emotional attachment while being trained at Toyota. There I learned that no matter your function as a Team Member you have a responsibility to identify at least 26 improvement ideas annually which will allow the company to remain competitive. This requirement was written into every position description and no it was not rewarded in any manner ... it was your responsibility.

The kind of behaviour that was instilled into every Team Member was the ability of Team Members to observe process, identify wastes and improvements. These ideas were acknowledged by the organization ... it seemed like every team member was motivated to find ways to eliminate their position. Primarily because no Team Members are walked out of the organization due to process improvements but more likely to be rewarded with a position of greater responsibility.

This is an advanced form of emotional attachment because it captures the Team Member background thinking, that when immersed in their process they need to find opportunities for improvement ... but there are other ways of getting emotional attachment from your team members.

One of the main methodologies Lean Practitioners like to use is the use of Check Lists. The most powerful Check List is the TPM Check List. TPM has morphed during the years ... it started as Total Predictive Maintenance where the Team Member performed equipment self checks to early detect potential problems that could result in unscheduled down-time. It then gradually evolved to Total Productive Maintenance where in addition to self checks the Team Member was authorized to perform some basic maintenance tasks and adjustments like lubrication of the equipment. Today we promote TPM as Total Productive Management where we have incorporated several checklists into one comprehensive list which includes the equipment checks but also area housekeeping requirements, proper stocking levels of supplies, quality and safety.

The most important attribute (view our TPM Station) of the TPM station is that by having the Team Member conduct the checks we are emotionally attaching the Team Member to the process. If unscheduled down-time should occur we can then work with the Team Member to identify additional checks that will early detect potential issues going forward. To increase the span of emotional attachment you should have tasks that need to be completed at the start of shift, during the shift and at the end of shift. Primarily the start of shift tasks are to insure that your Team Member is operating in a safe environment and that the process is Predictable.

We acknowledge that leaders want to do a great job at Leadership. In many cases this means that the Leader wants to walk the process and will speak and engage Team Members to discuss their progress and address their concerns. Typically this done at the start of their day before regularly scheduled meetings begin ... but this can be counter-productive especially if several Leaders walk the floor at different times.

Why?? If you observe a Team Member who has zoned into the process with their muscle memory you will observe that they are likely performing a dance. Studies have revealed that once you interrupt a person doing a task it can take up to 21 minutes before that person is back into their zone. So those leaders walking within the process are actually creating interruptions and stymying productivity.

So a good way to know if a process is operating within tolerance is to use an Hourly Run Board ... but make it big so that it is visible from at least 50 feet away.

People are naturally competitive so when presented with aggressive but achievable objectives most people will do their best to accomplish them. So if you set hourly performance targets your Team Members will do their best to meet them. If they fail to meet the target this then becomes your opportunity to offer coaching or problem resolution. This can be done while being an observer and without interrupting the Team Member.

As the Team Members are performing within their process and documenting progress on their Hourly Run Board they truly are emotionally attached to their process and hopefully as they operate while in the zone they are considering improvements to their process.

Emotional Attachment creates Employee Engagement and this is best observed by having Team Members do a daily Reflection. The best manner to facilitate Reflections is the use of the Daily Report-Out Methodology. This is a very powerful methodology that relies on the use of Precision Speaking and Generous Listening. Typically the Team Members answer to What Worked Well? ... so we keep doing it, What Didn’t Work Well? ... so we stop or change that activity and finally What To Do Different? ... to act as fodder for Continuous Improvement.

Finally you need to invest in creating a professional environment for your Team Members so they are proud to come to work and feel pride for your brand.

I once had a mentor advise me that there are literally hundreds of books on how to golf and even if you read all of them it will not necessarily make you a great golfer. In order to become a great golfer you need to read the books and then invest in a lot of training to develop your golfing muscle memory. It also helps that when golfing you have some colleagues along to act as observers to provide subtle feed-back for improvement.

We would love to be your observer as you deploy your Lean Methodologies.

Related Posts

See All


We do more than just blog. We're active Lean practitioners who would love to help you achieve your productivity goals.

bottom of page