Tag Archives: feedback

Value of Hourensou – What’s That You Ask?

Here’s an interesting Japanese term…hourensou. Ever heard of it? It’s a common term amongst those at Toyota, but really you can’t find much on it from the Web or from all the great published books on Toyota or Toyota Way.

The word hourensou is broken down into 3 meanings (hou = report, ren = inform, and sou = feedback).

So why a post on hourensou? I want to share my insights on the power of communication (verbal and written) in the workplace and how something perceived to be so simple can really be a visual key to separating your strong performers from your weaker performers.

What does it mean?

Hourensou means to report out to other’s frequently to keep those necessary informed of your work, while remaining open to feedback and direction from a peer or direct. This could be in the written form by using an email to communicate daily progress on a project to the stakeholders or in the verbal form to have short frequent walk-ups to a direct to share and get feedback on the progress of an assignment.

At Toyota, being able to communicate effectively is essential. Assignments are given with the intent that others will follow hourensou from start to finish. If an assignment will take 3 months to do, the expectation from working level to Executive management is that multiple (6-10) updates occur during that period. While performing hourensou, you are also performing nemawashi, a more common Japenese term meaning to prepare the roots or gain consensus. As you involve others in your assignment, you are obtaining their feedback and incorporating it so that the final product is the work of many instead of one.

Hourensou doesn’t equal micro-management

For those of you that have never heard of hourensou before may think it sounds a lot like micro-management of other’s work, but it is quite the opposite. In my opinion, micro-management is when you smother your team members and tell them what to do and how to do it. With hourensou, the team member has ownership of the assignment, makes decisions on his or her own, but by informing others frequently gets necessary feedback to keep the assignment progressing on schedule within scope, both key elements to reducing team member burden.

Whether you have heard of this term before or not, the key is the value of open communication is imperative to having a strong team working towards common goals.   Does your team value communication?




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Given any feedback recently? 5 Steps to Try.

If you are a manager or someone responsible for the development of others, when is the last time you gave those people any feedback? I don’t mean the ‘good job’ or ‘atta boy’, but real, constructive feedback based on those person’s behaviors dealing with certain events @ work?

As a Manager, feedback is a critical component to aid in the personal and professional growth of your members. We probably all realize the importance of this role, but giving feedback, especially when it is to offer improvement is not easy for many managers to do. In this post I offer my suggestions on how to give feedback, but as always would like to get your thoughts and methods used to kaizen my own processes.

5 Step Process to Giving Feedback

1. Make it timely – you want to strike while the iron is hot. For example, if you recognize that your team member was spending time on their laptop and not paying attention during your section meeting, you should prepare to give feedback right after the meeting is concluded. Don’t wait for your next 1 on 1 or for the behavior to happen again. As Nike says “Just do it”. Waiting puts additional pressure on yourself because you know you need to do something about that member’s behavior, but you are waiting for the next perfect opportunity and waiting too long could result in the team member not recalling the situation as clearly due to the gap since the behavior was recognized.

2. Approach with a question – always, always, always ask for permission to give the team member feedback. You should do every time when giving positive reinforcement or coaching direction. You want to ensure the team member is ready to discuss what you have to say. Giving feedback isn’t about using your authority, rather more about seeing eye to eye and having very open coversations.

3. Be specific with examples – This is the crux of your feedback. Emphasis needs to be placed on the behaviors. Based on the previous example above of the team member working on the laptop during the meeting, your feedback should be specific to how that behavior impacts himself and others around him. For instance, the feedback may go something like this…when you work on your laptop in the section meeting, it looks as if you don’t care and that the updates others are sharing on their projects is not important to you. That is just one potential impact caused by that type of behavior, there could be many others. The key here is that you are focused on the behavior, not the action.

4. Listen – be ready to listen because after giving the feedback to the team member and discussing about the observed behaviors, you will want to find out how the team member plans to address the situation. Instead of dictating what is going to happen, find out what the team member is thinking and guide their development based on the end state you want them to reach.

5. Follow up / PDCA – Working @ Toyota you realize quickly that one key skill everyone must develop is Plan, Do, Check, Act or PDCA. This is the last step in the feedback process although it is equally important. If you recognize the need for feedback & determine when to give it (the Plan), address the observed behaviors and ask the team member how they will address it (the Do), but never follow up and see what progress is being made (the Check) then you’ve reduced the value of giving the feedback in the first place. You need to check with the team member in your one on one meetings and continue to guide them in the right direction (the Act) like I blogged about in an another post entitled Effective One on Ones @ Work.

Try out these steps, see how it goes, and post your reflection points back to the blog.



Filed under @Work