What is total quality culture? You can most probably guess the meaning but you should know that it is an actual term as opposed to being a colloquial phrase. The term is a derivation of Total Quality Management (TQM) which is an approach to management where the goal is to achieve long-term success by way of focusing on customer satisfaction. It is what you may refer to as the Amazon strategy. Customer satisfaction is something that is very much trending in business circles these days. The logic is that if the customer is satisfied, the pressure from product development, competitor poaching, and even price wars can be relieved.
At the ground level, total quality culture is simplistic in nature – make customer satisfaction paramount in all your operations. It is more like a philosophy than strategy because it doesn’t change the tasks and actions but instead the way you do them. Total quality culture is a psychological thing that needs to be at the forefront of your company culture. This is possibly why it is so difficult to achieve total quality culture for most small to medium scale businesses. In this post, we will try to help you achieve it in your own business.
Ensure Quality Vision Is a Part of the Business Strategy
The direction of a company, as well as its approach, is governed by its business strategy. The business strategy itself is an amalgamation of various elements such as organisational structure, cash flow projections and operational dynamics. One of its elements, though, is the vision and mission statement. Both these elements basically cover the underlying principle on which the company will operate. These elements need to revolve around the business’s quality vision for the business to have a total quality culture.
The quality vision can be formulated in a wide variety of ways. It can speak of the current status of the industry or it can talk about the ambitions of the organisation. Regardless of how the quality vision is formulated, however, it needs to specify how the business envisions its quality promises to its customers, clients, associates, and workforce.
Establish Systemic Feedback Loops to Support Total Quality Culture
Including quality vision within the business strategy is the beginning of the entire concept. What follows is the establishment of systemic feedback loops designed to monitor the operations of the organisation from the perspective of quality control. By calling these feedback loops systemic, we mean that they need to be integrated with the operational systems so that there is neither any delay or oversight related neglect of the quality vision.
The purpose of these feedback loops is basically the monitoring of every operational process and their subsequent refinement. Systemic feedback loops allow the people in charge to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses of the systems they have created. They further augment the ability of the decision makers to improve said systems and make them more effective. Finally, since systemic feedback loops allow improvement of established processes, they end up making the business more agile in dynamic markets.
Owing to this agility, the business is able to respond to changing market requirements better. For example, scalability is one of the inherent benefits of having operational systems that can be refined within acceptable time periods. Therefore, when the business is booming, the company can augment its capacity but when the market is fallow, the company can contract its liabilities. Effectively, establishing systemic feedback loops create a culture of growth and total quality.
Evaluate and Analyse Performances In Terms Of Quality Goals and Metrics
Systemic feedback loops are very effective in monitoring the operations and ensuring that quality is the primary objective of the employees. However, they still need the right metrics to be effective. The majority of organisations stumble at this step because they choose metrics that focus on returns rather than quality. The metrics used in monitoring the performance of systems and employees, alike, need to revolve around quality as opposed to either quantity or financial return.
The metrics businesses choose for measuring quality depend entirely on the quality vision and the kind of products or services they are offering. However, the chosen metrics need to revolve around quality goals established by the business. Quality goals will be the tangible representations of the quality vision formulated by the business.
Put In Place Employee Training Regime with Standardised Programmes
Even though systems could make or break a business, their success and continued growth depend on its workforce. It is the individual employees who are the source of all innovations in a business. However, constructive innovation and creativity are only possible once you know what systems you’re working with and what they’re capable of. Employees need to become accustomed to the established systems in the business for total quality culture to permeate through every facet of its operations.
This directly means putting in place an employee training regime based on standardised programmes. Essentially, the employees need to learn what the quality objectives are within each component of the systems they’ll be working within. They’ll also need to learn the systems so that they know what their options are within it and what they can do to improve their performance.
Make Quality a Management Subject of Discussion
Since total quality culture is a phrase drawn from the concept of TQM, its roots lie in management. This means that it is the senior management that is responsible for inculcating total quality culture in the workforce. It is possible for a business to incorporate all the components mentioned till now and still fail to achieve total quality culture. How? This is possible if the senior management of the business doesn’t focus on it.
Most employees take their cues on what is important and what isn’t from their bosses. The fact that quality is important needs to filter down the hierarchy by the bosses. This starts from the promoters, filters down through the senior and middle management, and then reaches the employees. How it filters down is also worth considering even though it is very simple. The bosses and managers just need to pay more attention to quality for the concept of total quality culture to truly become a part of the overall company culture.