Total Quality Management (TQM) is a competitive approach to long-term success that’s derived from a dedication to customer satisfaction. Within this system, every employee in a company endeavors to enhance the products, services and internal culture to produce a streamlined set of business processes that deliver an improved customer experience.
Also commonly known as Quality Management in the United States, a TQM effort is unique in that it requires a high level of commitment to an established philosophy, with every member of the organization not only familiar with the end goal but committed to it – a dedication many attribute to the self-motivation of employees through reward-based incentives.
For the overall process to be effective, there are 10 key practices management can use to promote the culture of Total Quality Management and, in doing so, positively impact nearly every process within an organization. These include:
- Foster a continuous drive toward improving products and services
- Stop depending upon inspection to achieve quality
- Work with a single supplier to avoid having to award supplier contracts based on price alone
- Commit to a continuous re-evaluation of processes related to planning, production and service to achieve improvement goals
- Provide on-the-job training to develop and retain valuable staff, including opportunities for extensive education and self-improvement for everyone
- Remove barriers between staff areas to facilitate a free-flow of collaboration and ideas
- Get rid of any slogans, exhortations and targets aimed at employees
- Do away with numerical quotas for employees and numerical goals for management
- Eliminate the barriers that erode pride of workmanship, such as an annual evaluation or merit-based system
- Task everyone within the organization toward achieving the transformation goals of TQM
Fostering Positive Impact through Research and Effective Leadership
The above mentioned practices related to Total Quality Management can have a profound impact on companies both large and small. To achieve the best results, there are two areas of focus that can enable the benefits of Total Quality Management to be integrated as seamlessly as possible: employee participation and benchmarking
Benchmarking is a competitive method used to evaluate the success of a company’s products or services in relation to its competitors. The practice calls for an in-depth study of competitors deemed “best in class” within their niche and is an essential component to achieving a successful TQM impact on your organization. The overall goal is to analyze how a successful organization operates with respect to a particular product or service, emulating and improving upon it whenever possible.
For example, many companies have imitated the highly-successful shopping cart available at Amazon.com, specifically the creation of a “wish list” that not only enables shoppers to create a list of items for future purchase but also motivates them to continuously return to the site to manage and add to the list.
The second area of focus, employee participation, is the most crucial. A successful effort toward the goals established through TQM demands a workforce that is both well-trained and committed to the activities selected for process improvements. As mentioned earlier, this level of participation is often reinforced through reward-based and recognition systems, highlighting the individual and team achievements related to quality objectives.
In addition, continuous education and training for employees adds to the drive for quality by improving the capabilities of those within the organization while instilling a culture of self-improvement that often leads to the retention of valuable employees who more readily view themselves as having a personal stake in the company. As a result, employees are more willing to take on additional responsibilities, communicate more effectively, act creatively and innovate – a system that can be directly linked to customer satisfaction metrics in Total Quality Management.