Quality management stands or falls with implementation in practice. Yet this topic often remains somewhat abstract for employees on the work floor. This may, or even should, be different! Previously, quality was often the responsibility of one person or department, but nowadays this is no longer sufficient. It is no longer just about the quality of products, the whole organisation has to be top-notch! And this requires more involvement in quality management: both from the management, and from employees on the work floor. With the five tips below, you will create the desired involvement within your organisation.
It starts with an inspiring vision that clearly describes the ‘why’ of quality management and the desired outcome. By involving employees in drawing up the vision, they will better identify with it and feel more connected.
In addition, quality management should become part of the organisational culture. The type of culture of the organisation has a lot of influence on quality management. Consider, for instance, the following situation: if employees experience quality management as an obligation, they will be afraid of being held accountable for it. This discourages people from reporting deviations. A culture focused on quality is essential for long-term success.
Organisations are increasingly working with self-managing teams and processes are becoming agile. For quality management, not only ‘management’ is very important, but also ‘leadership’. Whereas management is mainly about planning and control, leadership is about the big picture, motivation and inspiration. There is an important condition here: motivating and inspiring employees only works if the board and management itself fully believes in quality management, sets a good example and does what it promises. ‘Practice what you preach’!
Leadership can be useful on several levels. How you approach that is largely the same as, for example, creating informal risk leaders.
To create support, internal communication is essential. Communicating internally is one of the most important things to create support. Not communicating or not communicating enough can lead to distrust among employees. In a quality-oriented organisation, there is therefore plenty of communication. Employees should have the opportunity to give feedback and ask critical questions. In addition, this contributes to awareness and commitment, thus motivating employees to implement quality management from ‘below’ and not just from the top down. For example, regularly share positive quality-related news, such as a decrease in costs for quality defects, or customer reviews. And communicate through various means and channels, such as Intranet, an e-mail newsletter or meetings.
Creating support starts with awareness. Do people understand the consequences of their actions? That employees need to be aware of the quality policy does not mean that they have to be able to recite it blindly, but that their actions are in line with this policy. If people understand why things should be carried out in a certain way, they are much more likely to carry out work in that way, than if they are just told to. Awareness is cultivated by having the right culture in a company and by involving people in determining ways of working so that they are motivated to do the right thing.
Do employees have the right knowledge and skills to perform their jobs well? Competencies can be acquired through proper education, training and/or experience, among other things. In the past few months, the majority of the world has been working from home. In the near future, learning and further training will also have to be done (largely) remotely. This is perfectly possible via e-learning. With testing software such as iQualify, you can easily learn digitally, wherever and whenever you want.
Knowledge is in employees’ heads, but also in systems. That knowledge must flow and be shared. In quality management, recording important information and agreements is essential. Manuals, procedures, work instructions and forms are frequently used in organisations. By making this easily accessible, for instance through a document management system, you make quality management more popular. This way, you take document management to the next level, stop unnecessary searching and get the most out of your business without costing a lot of time.
Companies are increasingly seeing the benefits of working remotely; by automating and digitising processes, a lot of manual work can be automated and people can focus more on content. Improving quality positively affects the company’s bottom line. Systems support quality management, but it is no guarantee of success. Quality awareness and employee commitment is key. Creating support has everything to do with how awareness is created among employees. Ultimately, employees determine the success of quality management. Because, you take care of quality with everyone.