Total quality management is an approach that first originated in the 1950s and became popular in the early 1980s. It is a continuous effort of an organization in which the management and employees ensure customer satisfaction and customer loyalty by being completely involved in the production of goods and services that satisfy their customers.
It is a combination of management and quality tools that focus on increasing the business prospects and reducing the losses caused by uneconomical practices. Total quality is a collection of attitude, organization, and culture of the company. It is infinitely adaptable and variable. It uses a set of tools and techniques for process improvement called six sigma. It is one of the widely used processes in which 99.96% produced results are expected to be defect free. Many companies including Motorola, Toyota Motor Company, Ford Motor company etc. have implemented Total Quality Management. TQM acts as a foundation for many activities in an organization such as:
- Improving teams
- Meeting customer needs
- Reducing time of development cycles
- Employee involvement
- Reducing service and product cost
- Challenging goals
- Empowerment of the employee
Principles of Total Quality Management:
The key principles of total quality management include:
- Management Commitment
- Employee empowerment.
- Decision making
- Continuous improvement
- Customer focus
Key elements of Total Quality Management:
In order to implement total quality management successfully, an organization must concentrate on the eight elements. These elements drive the force behind improvement, leadership, design and planning initiatives. These are:
The eight elements are categorized into groups of four depending on their function. The groups are:
The entire process of Total Quality Management lies on the foundation of the elements consisting of ethics, integrity, and trust. TQM involves every employee in this level irrespective of their designation.
Ethics is an element that is concerned with the understanding of the good and bad in any situation at the workplace. It is a subject related to the organization as well as the individual. Ethics of an organization set up the business code which outlines the guidelines that every employee is expected to follow. The individual ethics incorporate the rights and wrongs.
Integrity is an element which refers to the morals, honesty, values, and sincerity of an individual in the organization. It involves respecting fellow workers and the policies of the organization. This is one of the important characteristics for which the customers expect.
The by-product of ethical conduct and integrity is trust. The framework of Total Quality Management cannot be built without trust. It stimulates complete participation of all members in the organization. It improves the relationship among employees which helps in better decision making. It also promotes continuous improvement by individual risk-taking.
2. Building bricks:
Based on the foundation of ethics, integrity, and trust, bricks are a collection of elements which are placed in order to reach the roof of recognition. The elements of the building bricks include:
To be highly productive, employees must be trained. This responsibility falls solely on the supervisors who are responsible for implementing Total Quality Management in their respective departments. Employees must be trained under decision making, problem-solving, interpersonal skills, technical skills, and business economics. This is done so that the employees can work effectively and produce efficient results.
Teamwork is a crucial element of TQM. It helps the business to receive effective and efficient solutions to the problems. Teams also provide a permanent improvement in process and operation. TQM organizations usually adopt three types of teams. They are:
- Quality improvement team: Also known as excellence teams whose purpose is to deal with the problems that recur often. They are set up for 3 to 12 months.
- Problem-solving team: These teams are set up to solve certain problems and also to identify the root cause of those problems. They usually last from 1 week to 3 months.
- Natural work team: These teams consist of a group of skilled individuals who share responsibilities and tasks. They usually work for an hour to two every week.
Leadership is a quality trait of a person who provides an inspiring vision to the team and sets strategic directions to be understood by all. This is one of the crucial elements which must be constructive, effective and positive.
3. Binding mortar:
Binding mortar is an element which binds all the other elements together. The key element of this category is Communication.
Communication binds the organization together and is the core element of success. It is necessary to make sure that all the levels of communication among the suppliers, member and the customers are kept open. The communication among employees or the members of the organization is done in three ways. They are:
- Downward communication: Downward communication is the central form of communication in any organization. It is basically done through discussions and presentations.
- Upward communication: Upward communication provides a platform to build trust amongst the employees and the supervisors.
- Sideways communication: This type of communication takes place among various departments. It allows dealing with customers and suppliers in a professional way and helps break down the barriers between the departments.
The roof consists of a final element which tops off all the other elements of TQM. It is called recognition.
This element involves the suggestions and achievements for the teams and the individuals including positive feedback and encouragement. Every employee seeks recognition and it is the duty of the supervisor to detect and recognize the contributors and motivate them. This increases self-esteem and boosts performance and morale in an individual.
These elements help an organization to effectively implement total quality and ensure they meet all the requirements of its customers. This helps them to focus on customer satisfaction and can help in the growth of the organization.
Various tools can be used to implement TQM such as PDCA cycle, fishbone diagrams, histograms etc. These tools help can be used in any situation and can provide efficient outputs when used correctly.
This content is sponsored by Jane Thomson.