How to create an Organization Culture for QUALITY


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A Learning resource on how to change the organization culture

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How to create an Organization Culture for QUALITY

  1. 1. Quality Is In People How to Change the Organization Culture By Jayadeva de Silva.M.Sc, MBIM, FIPM, FITD This paper attempts to highlight that Quality and the customer care are primarily matters of attitude and fall within the scope of Human Relations. It takes precision, patience and power to steer an aircraft in the opposite direction. The same is true of any attempt to change hardened prevailing work attitudes. Apart from massive training and development effort a very strong corporate will to make hard decisions and supreme sacrifices, is required for attainment of 99.9997% Quality which will delight customers. Today’s customers are demanding more from suppliers. The key differentiator between successful companies and their competitors will be quality. Winning in the new market place requires finding a way to differentiate yourself from competitors, and competitive differentiation is not just a question of providing the right products or having the right strategy. It also means paying closer attention to customer care. In the long run, people simply will not buy from companies that are not prepared to go that “extra mile” in terms of looking after their customers. Then the business that pays attention to quality, service and value is going to delight customers, who in turn will ensure that business remain successful. In this paper we will examine the people factor in promoting a Total Quality Culture within an organisation. Leadership for Quality Many companies both local and foreign however, are not satisfied with the pay back in their quality improvement efforts. We feel that the creation of a quality culture encompassing the total organisation requires a revolutionary change. In prevailing work attitude, Surveys among various categories of employees reveal that many people are trapped in their jobs. Could we not, therefore, channel all that concern into quality improvement and make it a positive business process? Great companies who have great names acknowledge that they have great products but more importantly they have great people. 1
  2. 2. “We strive to give our best to the customer through the quality and reliability of our goods and services. Perfection is not easy, but we believe in setting high standards and we expect and demand from all employees superior performance and innovative qualities. We recognise, appreciate and reward a job well done by people who take pride in working for us” So states the business philosophy one of leading Groups companies in Sri Lanka.(where the author headed the HRD function for several years) In a time of turbulence and uncertainty, we must be able to take instant action on the front line. But to support such action, taken at the front, everyone must have a clear understanding about what the organisation is trying to achieve. Effective visions are aimed at empowering our own people first. Customer second. The first task of the vision is to call forth the best from the company’s own people. Effective vision whilst honouring the past prepares for the future. Effective visions statements are clear, challenging and are about excellence. Effective visions make sense in the turbulent world. Effective visions are lived in detail not broad strokes. Customer Perception Such Quantum steps of improvements can be obtained only if they can get the organisation to look at the issues in totally new ways, applying creative skills. Tomorrow’s winner must be entrepreneurial as a habit and will have to continually seek improvements in their ability to serve their customers. Quality is not only for up market products and suppliers who can charge accordingly. Quality can be built in to any business or service, whatever segment of the market has been chosen as the target. It’s a question of meeting the customers’ expectations and then giving just a little bit more. As an example, take two hopper boutiques. Both serve the same range of food, both provide a few tables for customers wanting to eat at the premises and both do most of their trade in takeaways. In terms of quality, they could differ on:  The freshness of their hoppers.  The oil, flour and coconut milk they use for preparation. 2
  3. 3.  The extent to which they can offer customers freshly baked hoppers rather than food that has been kept for a long time  The courtesy and efficiency of their service.  The cleanliness of their surroundings.  The little extras that they provide, such as a paper serviette with takeaways, or a choice of sambols. Employee Involvement Goodyear, an American Company, is reported to have introduced an employee suggestion scheme under the name “Decentralised Idea generation” and they have introduced the term “Associate” as a substitute for employees. Quality is certainly about manufacturing a product that people can depend on every time they reach for it. But according to Donald R Kellogh President of Coca-Cola, it is more than that. Quality, he says, is a way of life that must involve every employee every day. We know that quality improvement is about change. With change you create fear and anxiety. To manage change and make it acceptable one has to build an atmosphere of trust and self-confidence. In October 1887, William Cooper Proctor, grandson of the founder of Proctor and Gamble, introducing a profit sharing plan stressed the core values of their business as follows: “The first job we have is to turnout quality merchandise that consumers will buy and keep on buying. If we produce it efficiently and economically we will earn a profit in which you will share. But the profits can’t be distributed unless they are earned and the company must take care of its equipment, expand normally, remain in a sound fiscal position and part of the earnings must be ploughed back into the business”. It is clear from the foregoing that …Leaders of the best companies profoundly believe in and promote the core values of customer-focused quality. Quality has been, and will, remain the key management imperative. Leaders see quality as the heart of the business. It is known that the rate of progress is slow in many Total Quality Management (TQM) Programmers. Leaders, however, could set demanding goals. Asia Brown Boveri’s (ABB) ’10 up Programme’ is an example. This plan calls for 50% improvement in 10 key areas each year in all business. 3
  4. 4. All this amounts to being committed to meeting the expectations of their clientele, all the time, and then going further. Quality doesn’t just happen. It has to be planned for and built into the way an organisation operates. This means that each person must be clear about what is expected of him or her and what they have to do to achieve it. Management by Objectives (MBO) could be used very effectively in this regard. Quality will only remain at a constantly high level if the organisation is proactive rather than reactive. This means that the emphasis must be on thinking ahead and on preventing problems from arising in the first place. Organisations need to develop ways of working that make these happen. Attitudes on Quality Maintaining high standards in quality depends on the attitudes of everyone involved. Standards will slip if mistakes and lapses are accepted as inevitable. The positive alternative is to do things right the first time and every time. However, if the occasional lapse does happen, then there should be a positive way of dealing with it so that people learn from the mistake, rather than be blamed for it. This means: -Creating an atmosphere in which the people concerned are willing to admit that something is wrong. -Using it as an opportunity to review procedures etc. to prevent it happening again. Only under such conditions, much talked about quality circles can function. Making quality a reality depends on getting the right mix of Attitude, Skills, Communication Management and Expectations. Each factor should be related closely to the other and none can be considered in isolation. Customer Service In order to provide total quality, it is very important that we pay special attention to customer service and customer care. Training of employees has assumed much importance in this sphere. There are some key 4
  5. 5. elements crucial to the success of Customer Service Training. They are as follows: Training must be tied to a complete programme. Where Company wide Total Quality Concept (CWTQC) is practised, customer service could be linked to that process, as already stated above. Commitment of the top management is essential. Senior Managers too should participate in training sessions. Customer Service People should have freedom within standards. They need to be trained to pay attention to standards, and also to take the initiative to provide services not specified in the standards. Service guarantees back-up customer service training and reinforce employee commitment to service standards. Employees will then know that unsatisfactory service has immediate consequences. Service guarantees send a message to customers that the employees are determined to provide quality service. Use of advertising to back up service training and reinforce employee commitment to service standards. Employee will then know that unsatisfactory service has immediate consequences. Service guarantees send a message to customers that the employees are determined to provide quality service. Use of advertising to back up service training enhances the employee’s pride in their work. Very often it reinforces the message learned in training sessions that service counts. It also gives employees a public image to live up to. Monitoring of service quality should be undertaken as a feedback mechanism. Employees should know what they are doing wrong. The company can measure the compliance by employees with the service standards. However, providing consistent good quality service means that a customer must perceive something pleasant happening every time he approaches the company. It must be borne in mind that many service skills are simply not trainable. You can teach a person to say, but not how to say it. You can teach a procedure for handling a complaint, but not the attitude that will 5
  6. 6. satisfy the customer and bring that person back. To get superior customer service, it is crucial to have the right people. The following are some of the proven techniques for Customer Service Training:  Film & Video for Modelling  Group Discussion  Competitor Observation  Job Rotation  Role Play  Video or Audio Feedback  Mass Audience Persuasion  Stress Training Customer care Customer care could be judged only in terms of the feeling of the customer. If the customer is not satisfied with the service he or she has received then that service was not good. The writer is of the view that this is the single most important truth about customer care. It does not matter how hard one has tried or how much one has done. The only judgement that counts is that of the customer. The other important factor about customer care is that good customer care has to come as a surprise! If the customers get what they were expecting, they will not be impressed. After all they expected to get that. If they get less than what they expected, then they will be disappointed. Leading Companies are continuously faced with this problem. Customer care is about detail. It is about getting lots of small things right as well as the big picture. Very often the goods and services offered by competing companies and organisations are not very different. The difference very often depends on the people who are employed. We can learn a lot from Japanese management in the area of total quality management. Therefore, one is tempted to ask - Can we import not just Japanese products but the attitude behind them? Quality is practical. Factories, airlines and 6
  7. 7. hospital laboratories must also be practical. But quality is moral, aesthetic, perceptual and subjective. It is about delivering above expectations. The famous Marketing expert, Philip Kotler, Calls this the delight factor. Quality and customer satisfaction should be measured. Rewards should be made on the basis of these measurements. There could be instances when one hears that a particular problem is not serious, because it happened only once and not symptomatic of a larger problem. At our training programmes we get detailed feedback from the participants. There is invariably some criticism. We have found the criticism to be symptomatic of larger and serious issues. Every Customer complaint is symptomatic of a shortcoming. Moreover, it usually represents a very good opportunity for improvement. Some insist that certain parameters are subjective. Cleanliness is subjective. But it can be measured. We only need to add a question to our questionnaire- How clean is the place on a scale of one to ten where ten is ‘excellent’ and one is ‘very poor’ In our experience, by far the greatest influence on today’s employees are the people who have managed them. Thus manager have to set an example in whatever they do. Formal training can have an effect, but for the most part we emulate the managers we worked for earlier in our careers. In the selection of managers, organisations should be careful to give the required weightage for the candidate’s attitude towards customer orientation and the degree of commitment towards total quality management. In order to incite a “Quality Revolution”, we in Sri Lanka can learn from the experience of other countries, especially from Japan. We could pay closer attention to rework and recycling operations with a view to promoting the concept “Do it right the first time and every time -resulting in zero defects”. We could deliberately reduce the level of all inventories, as overproduction, oversupplying, overbuying of anything can have a disastrous effect on promoting the Total Quality culture. We can start and do everything on time. If quality is about following standards, then we must admit that, in Sri Lanka, the most violated standard is time. We can pay more attention to cleaning up the work environment. Seemingly unimportant things like inspecting toilets, locker rooms and the floor will have to be considered important. 7
  8. 8. If today’s managers set a good example in customer-oriented quality management then their subordinates will develop believing that this is the right way to manage, resulting in a steady improvement of quality. Then life will be more pleasant for everyone. As stressed throughout this paper such a change in prevailing work attitudes and sentiments will eventually lead to greater economic success domestically and internationally bringing greater prosperity and quality of life for all. Thus, Quality is in People. -- -------------…. * This was extracted from the author’s book “Humantalents Management” which is also downloadable free from Author can be contacted in SriLanka by telephone 077 7272 295 E mail 8
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