Jim Bolte has been president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama (TMMA) since 2009. Since they’ve just built their 4 millionth engine, one could assume that business is pretty good. In a recent interview, Bolte has a secret to all this success. Sign language. Well, not entirely, but a sign language is a form of good communication. To Bolte, good communication breeds success.
FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS TO TOYOTA PRESIDENT
Bolte started his career in computer programming before computers were even a common concept. For the youngsters out there, that was a pretty long time ago. Jim was just getting his start in the professional world and Toyota was too. Despite intense demands from the company, Jim kept his head down, mind open and eventually became head of TMMA.
BOLTE ATTRIBUTES COMMUNICATION TO SUCCESS
An amusing anecdote by Jim revealed his desire to learn sign language to decipher what his girlfriend was saying. She and her friends would often speak the language and poke fun at Jim, so he decided to get on their level of communication. While a fun little tale, there is a deeper meaning behind it. Speaking someone’s language means that you are creating a relationship. An understanding. Some people travel through foreign countries without the slightest attempt of learning the culture or language. They form no relationship. While their personal experience in that country may be seen as a success, the relationship, on the whole, is a failure. By learning to nurture relationships with effective communication, Bolte was able to gain the respect of his employees and create a healthy environment at Toyota.
BIG TIME COMPANY WITH A SMALL TOWN APPROACH
Sales of Toyota in North America continue to climb. Despite this overwhelming accomplishment, Jim Bolte does not handle his workers like they are simply cogs in the big Toyota machine. Like a small town, Bolte appreciates the one on one encounters that occur on a daily basis. Bolte believes that sitting down, having deep, personal connections with people in his line of work has greatly helped Toyota get to its place. Every team member is an essential part of the process, and Jim Bolte makes sure that is known. A wise lesson that many of American’s largest corporations could surely learn from.