Toyota, Herd Mentality, and HR | HR Fishbowl

sheep-6862533Let me start by saying that my sincere sympathies go out to anyone who has been harmed in any way by the Toyota accelerator/floor mat issues.  It sucks you’ve been hurt and I hope appropriate reconciliation will come your way…if even possible.  Having said that…

Would all you other crazy-hypersensitive-sky is falling-little ninny nanny-overly judgmental-freakazoids please just cool it?  This is a perfect example of how the general public is prone to media hysteria, hypnosis, and herd mentality.  Here’s a company that did the auto industry a favor: it injected a competitive life into the increasingly arrogant and complacent Big 3 and in the process brought 10′s of thousands of jobs to the US (their Direct Investment in the US has grown to $17 Billion and they spend $29 Billion annually with US companies).  Think of all the cars this company has put on the roads in the US over the last 53 years (27 million Toyotas on the road in the US right now) and then…this.  The media gets a hold of it, the American public cries “foul,” and the next thing you know the company is projected to lose somewhere in the neighborhood of $2B by the time this is all said and done.  And for what?  Toyota owners have a better chance of killing themselves by slipping in the shower (2,300:1) than they do having even an issue (not a fatal one) with their faulty accelerators or floor mats (13,500:1).  Check it out.

One of the hardest things you’ll ever do as an HR professional is take a stand on an employee’s performance, suggest they “aren’t done yet,” and insist that you (all) have an obligation to at least try and salvage their career with the organization.  This is easy enough to do when you have some employment law risk to fall back on.  But try it when the mob is forming, when quick-judgment has already been passed, and some loud mouth is crying “foul.”  If HR professionals went along with the herd every time performance came into question, our “Grim Reaper” moniker would be well deserved.  We go out of our way to understand the dynamics at play, we gather facts, we interpret the data, and we always perform a risk analysis.  History (track record) is considered.  Multiple view points and diverse perspectives are sought.  And ultimately a recommendation is made.  But we always start with the benefit of the doubt…don’t we?  Don’t we begin with the premise that people make mistakes, that no one is perfect, that flawless performance is fleeting, and that every one should be given another (and another) chance?  And more than anything, we hate the “either/or” solution and always look for the “and/both” solution…

Why do Americans suck at this?  There are solutions to this problem, their are a number of models not subject to the issues, the company will pay for the fix, and it’s not like they are going to put new cars on the market that have the same issue.  To any one who is thinking some semblance of “I really like Toyota but now there’s no way I’m buying one,” you’re a doo doo head.  I just hope you’re not an HR professional too.

Related Posts:

9 Comments – Leave a comment!

Trackback URL

Leave a Comment