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Deming’s Point No. 8 – Drive Out Fear

Deming’s Point No. 8 – Drive Out Fear


W. Edwards Deming’s 8th point can also be defined as “Creating a Culture of Trust”.


I will again start my blog with a fitting quote –

“Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong”
Peter T. McIntyre


Maslow’s well known Hierarchy of Human Needs, states that unless humans have satisfied their basic “physiological” needs (air, food, shelter, job), those higher level – “self actualization” needs (personal growth, further education, promotion, etc…) will not be sought after.


Much of this information has been known for a very long time, yet we as organizations, Managers, Supervisors, etc… still have failed to address this. Many Managers and Supervisors have only a minimal understanding of the job that their employees do, the problems they encounter, and the employees input on to make things better.


In a time when many are fearful of job loss due to the sluggish economy this is even more prevalent. Employees are afraid to take their problems to their Managers for fear of job loss.


What are some of the effects (“symptoms”)?

  • Fear loss of job or negative impact on reviews
  • Fear of ridicule by Managers or peers
  • Fear of being blamed for the issue


What are some of the actual causes for this?

  • Lack of a stable process, system , QMS or environment
  • Lack of actual training or a training process
  • Lack of resources to perform the work (equipment, time, personnel, or materials)
  • Lack of authority or empowerment to “stop the process” by Management when there is a problem (“We have to make a shipment” syndrome) 
  • Conflicting objectives in the organization or department
  • Untrained, unqualified managers or others in leadership positions that fear empowering their workers.


How do we “fix” this?

  • Train employees properly. Do not just put them on the job. If they are not confident in the ability to do the job, we cannot expect them to perform properly.
  • Empower your employees. This means to give them the tools, information and support to do their assigned tasks.
  • Have an “open door policy” so issues do not get “trapped” in the hierarchy.
  • Practice “open book management” so that employees feel and are part of the team and have input into how the business is operated to some extent.
  • Be willing to “stop the process” when there is a problem and give workers the authority to do so. Nothing is more discouraging than not being able to do a good job and make quality products or services for your customer.
  • Train Management in and enforce, encourage empowerment of the employees. This can be very challenging for them but can stifle employee enthusiasm and creativity
  • Do not merely chastise employees when there is a problem. Solve the problem with them and fix the process. Take the “person” out of it. An environment of “yelling, screaming and condescending discussions” will only encourage the environment of “fear”.



Here is to improvement.