Delivering long-term value to customers is a challenge. Out-of-the-box solutions aside, there’s only one sure way of enriching the lives of customers – and that’s by creating a quality culture in the company and working towards total quality creation.
A culture of quality refers to a professional environment that champions quality in every activity that takes place. Companies should focus on creating and offering quality in every process, product, or service.
A culture of quality can be adopted only when there is an implementation of total quality management (TQM) in the company. TQM is a practice where every internal stakeholder in the company is committed to continuous performance improvement.
In fact, this is the fundamental tenet of quality creation – it is people-centric, and you need employees who are committed to quality to make quality culture a reality.
How companies can foster and nurture a quality culture in their workplaces
1.Communicate the importance of quality
The reality is, most employees want what is best for the company. They are willing to do what it takes to help the company succeed. But, barring a few proactive employees (who can inherently understand the long-term benefits of quality), most adopt a quality mindset only when they are explicitly told how quality can benefit them and the company. This is why it’s important for employers and managers to actively highlight the benefits of creating a culture of quality.
Employers should explain why policies, procedures, regulations, and standards have an important place in the company and why employees must adhere to them at all times. They must chalk the direct relationship between policy compliance and quality.
2. Empower your staff
An organization that discourages employee feedback or is unsupportive of employee involvement will hardly find itself able to foster a quality culture in their company. This is because of the absence of staff empowerment.
To benefit from the commitment and ingenuity of employees, employers must empower them to suggest improvements and to make their case heard by the top management. These ideas should also be recognized publicly, as this encourages other hesitant employees to chip-in with their ideas and improvements as well. When employees are discouraged from doing so, they will not be as forthcoming with their ideas, and the company may be impacted negatively because of it.
The truth is, employees are often more perceptive than the management, and their greater exposure to ground realities makes them more sympathetic to the company’s challenges and weaknesses. This is why they’re better-placed to suggest process improvements, which can help the company deliver quality and value to customers. This is also why employees must be given their freedom.
3.Create a culture of trust
Studies show a direct correlation between employee trust and employee performance. This, in turn, translates to higher quality performance.
When employers treat employees as equals whose suggestions and feedback are worth evaluating and actioning, they create an atmosphere of trust and respect. This gives employees the courage and support they need to go out of their way to find solutions to inefficient processes and poor quality outcomes.
But when this space of psychological safety is absent from the workplace and when employers disregard or, worse, disrespect anything employees say, it creates a very threatening work environment, which hampers motivation and creativity.
Additionally, the absence of a culture of trust makes the company and its operations opaque. This lack of transparency prevents employees from understanding the impact of their roles in the overall quality lifecycle in the company. When this happens, they are less likely to buy-into the culture of quality or even work towards continuous improvement.
4. Implement guardrails
One of the primary reasons why employees are discouraged from working towards improved quality is the presence of a high risk of mistakes and non-conformance. This is where the implementation of operational guardrails will help. These guardrails are essentially technology or policy changes that make it easier for the employees to work more efficiently and deliver value.
For example, companies can implement an electronic document management software to automate their entire document management and control process. From document creation to revision to distribution, every single activity can be automated to reduce potential human error. Such guardrails prevent routine oversight, and when integrated with AI technology, they can improve the speed and efficiency with which process errors and defects are identified and addressed.
This limits the risk that employees must bear and encourages them to commit to the creation of a quality culture.
To create a culture of quality, employees must understand and buy into the quality mindset. It is only with a company-wide involvement that true quality and continuous improvement can be achieved.