The question comes up a lot when it comes to talking about quality management processes, but we figured that we would answer it the best we could here: just what role do employees have in quality management? After all, can’t we just outsource the role of employees to technology? Not quite. If anything, if employees aren’t vested in your company’s quality metrics, they aren’t going to focus very much on them. If there isn’t enough employee buy-in, the processes will not get executed. They’ll stay theoretical, not actual. This is not healthy for the business’s bottom line, nor is it a good outlook for the employees. When people feel that a company is directionless, they tend to jump ship very quickly.
Where do we begin with TQM as it relates to employees? The best way to start would be at the beginning. When a new employee is hired, TQM should be part of the onboarding process. We need to make sure that every single employee being hired understands the mission of the company and what’s expected of them. You need to make sure that they get all of their questions answered. Not every company uses Quality processes, so there are going to be some questions involved, which means that you need to look through things appropriately.
For the employees that are already part of the company, there are ways to make this an easy transition. Continuing education is a big deal in a lot of industries, so why shouldn’t we add this to the list? If existing employees feel like they’re getting valuable information, they’re much more likely to stay compared to when people feel that they aren’t being nurtured professionally.
It’s also important to make it clear to employees how this information affects them as individuals. Employees that are willing to use the framework in order to complete objectives should be viewed as their very own special category. That level of employee engagement means that they’re committed to the company, and this drive should be rewarded.
On the other hand, you need to make it clear in evaluations that failure to use these frameworks and move company objectives forward is not acceptable. Employees that consistently fail to follow the rules will end up being put on a personal improvement plan. If the PIP fails then they will have to be terminated. Managing employees is hard because there is always the issue of termination, which makes it hard to keep retention statistics up. However, it’s a good idea to be able to stop this in its tracks by looking at how each employee is performing. Regular coaching should be part of any improvement plan, so that problems can be addressed quickly.
Again, taking care of employees is never easy because there is a fine balance between the two extremes that has to be walked at all times. You may also need to talk to the appropriate departments before approaching an employee, because you do not want to get in any legal trouble or expose the company to certain liabilities.