Role of Quality Leaders

Leaders of any organisation play an important role for maintaining quality. As we know, the leader in TQM is a person who inspires, by suitable means, having sufficient capability to affect a group of individuals to become willing followers in the achievement of the organisational goals. Research identifying the keys of successful leadership in quality management reports the following:

  • (a) Attention through vision.
  • (b) Meaning through communication.
  • (c) Trust through positioning.
  • (d) Confidence through respect.

Describing the characteristics of leaders in quality management, they have an unprecedented vision and concern with the results; are excellent in the area of communication; they are predictable and make their positions known; they must have positive self-esteem and a commitment to bring out the best in others. Here are the seven most identified qualities of great leaders and executives: a) Vision

Good entrepreneurs have a very inspirational and farsighted vision which they share passionately with the employees. Their clarity of goals is of a sensational level. Also, they are experts in strategic planning. Quality is what makes them different from managers. They have a clear vision, which transforms the individual into a particular type of person. This quality of vision transforms a ‘transactional administrator’ into a ‘transformational leader.’

b) Courage

‘Value is, rightly, considered the main virtue, because everyone else depends on it,’ according to Winston Churchill. One of the most important qualities of a good leader is value. It also depends on the ability of the leaders. Willingness to take risks in pursuit of achieving goals indicates the quality of courage, while following such thinking does not guarantee any success. Every commitment made by the leaders and every action they take carries any risk.

c) Integrity

According to Zig Ziglar, ‘With integrity, you have nothing to fear because you have nothing to hide, w'ith integrity, you will do the right thing and you will not be guilty.’ In each strategic planning session for large and small companies, the first value that all leader groups agree on for their business is integrity. Everyone agrees on the importance of total honesty in everything they do, both internally and externally. The heart of integrity is the truth. Integrity always requires telling the truth to everyone.

d) Humility

According to Larry Bossidy, humility gives results. Humility is the quality of being humble. Humility is a leadership quality w'here strong and decisive leaders are humble at the same time. Humility does not mean that it makes leaders weak or uncertain. It means that they have the self-confidence and self-awareness necessary to recognise the value of others without feeling susceptible. One of the rarest traits of leadership is where a strong, decisive leader is humble which requires the leader to be a master of self-confidence.

e) Strategic Planning

‘The strategy is not the consequence of planning, but quite the opposite: it is the starting point.’ According to Henry Mintzberg, strategic planning is remarkable. Without strategic planning, leaders cannot imagine their success. They have the ability to look to the future, to anticipate with some precision the evolution of industry and markets. Leaders have the ability to foresee trends long before their competitors. They constantly ask: ‘According to what is happening today, where is the market going? Where will it be in three months, six months, one year, and two years?’ They do so through thoughtful strategic planning. Anticipating the market is the key which only a few leaders or organisations practise, but which eventually go on to outlast their competition in the market. It gives the advantage of moving first in the marketplace.

f) Focus

Successful people maintain a positive direction in life, no matter what happens around them, focus on past successes instead of past failures, and on the next steps to bring them closer to home rather than the other distractions that life presents to them.

Jack Canfield

Leaders always focus on the needs of society and the situation. The leaders focus on the results, what they must do themselves, the others, and the company. Great leaders focus on their strengths, on themselves, and on others. They focus on the strengths of any type of organisation, in what the company does best to satisfy demanding customers in a competitive market. Leaders must have the ability to take things on themselves when required, ensuring the complete focus of the employees, and making productive use of the time to perform well.

g) Cooperation

‘If their imagination leads them to understand the speed with which people access their requests when they appeal to their own interests, they have virtually nothing to do’ - Napoleon Hill. The ability to make everyone work and join together is essential for success. Leadership is the ability to make people work for them because they want to.

Advantages of TQM

There are so many advantages to implementing TQM in an organisation. Here we explain some of the advantages of total quality management (TQM) which include:

  • 1. Cost reduction - If applied consistently over time, total quality management can reduce costs throughout the company, especially in the areas of scrapping, recovery and on-site processing, and reduced warranty costs. Since these cost reductions directly impact net profits without incurring additional costs, this can result in a surprising increase in profitability.
  • 2. Customer satisfaction - Because the company offers better products and services, and customer relations are relatively effective, there should be fewer customer complaints. Fewer complaints can also mean that resources dedicated to customer service can be reduced. Increased customer satisfaction can also lead to a bigger market share, as current customers will work on behalf of the company to attract more customers.
  • 3. Defect reduction - TQM places great emphasis on improving quality within a process, rather than integrating quality into a process. The reduction of defects leads to an improvement in quality. This not only reduces the time required to repair errors, it also reduces the need for a team of quality control personnel.
  • 4. Morale-These are the fundamental benefits of total quality management. The continued success of TQM, and, in particular, employee participation in this success, can significantly improve employee morale, which reduces employee turnover and, consequently, hiring and training costs for new employees.

Implementation Steps of TQM

The relevant prerequisites relate to the history of the organisation, its current needs, the events that led to the management of total quality, and the quality of working life of employees. If the current reality does not include important preconditions, the implementation of TQM should be delayed until the organisation is in a favourable state for its success.

If an organisation has a proven track record of environmental awareness and has been able to effectively change the way it operates when necessary, TQM will be easier to implement. If an organisation has always been unreceptive and lacks the capacity to improve its operating systems, employees will be unhappy and qualified change agents will be lacking. If this condition prevails, a comprehensive management and leadership development programme can be established. A management audit is a good evaluation tool to identify the current levels of operation of the organisation and the areas that require changes. An organisation must be fundamentally healthy before starting TQM. Implementation steps of TQM are shown in Figure 2.2.

Implementation steps of TQM

FIGURE 2.2 Implementation steps of TQM.

Pillars of TQM

TQM is basically dependent on five pillars, as shown in Figure 2.3.

These pillars provide strength to TQM. It is the base for the quality improvements. These pillars are:

  • 1. Product.
  • 2. Process.
  • 3. System.
  • 4. People.
  • 5. Leadership.

TQM as a system helps in enabling integration of aspects like quality development, maintenance, and improvement of various groups in a company on a continuous basis. It enables different facets of businesses like marketing, engineering, production, and finally, the services to operate at a cost which is at optimum level and allows for full customer satisfaction.

On the basis of all the logical conclusions and a review of the literature, it seems that for the implementation of TQM to be successful, it must be based on some pillars to strengthen the base of the strategic measures. The researchers propose that the implementation of TQM is effective if it is based on eight pillars. The pillars work well by linking together cohesively, rather than in silos. On successful implementation, the goal of utmost importance, i.e. the goal of TQM can be achieved. Here is an explanation of the eight pillars of TQM.

Pillar One (P1): Creation of Quality Management Environment

A philosophy of integral quality management must begin with a process where the atmosphere of quality management is created and furthermore, it gives a free hand to the employees for investigating and correcting problems associated with quality. It requires an organisation to have a clear vision and mission with respect to the implementation of TQM. The mission and vision statement need widespread circulation within the organisation so that all the employees align themselves with it. TQM is a challenge that affects the entire organisation. TQM transformation has a prerequisite of knowledge of the fact that a product/service quality needs improvement. Therefore, an awareness programme is needed to implement TQM to create a positive environment throughout the organisation.

Pillars of TQM

FIGURE 2.3 Pillars of TQM.

Pillar Two (P2): Development of Teamwork

Unless the requirements of a customer are measured accurately, it is difficult for a company to look for the goal of continuous improvement. A business must be organised to obtain the necessary feedback on quality levels of products/services and also to obtain reliable information on the identification of the actual needs of customers. Customer satisfaction must be taken into account by all employees who automatically mandate a workplace to involve the front-line employees in the decision-making process. Establishing and valuing the contributions of the team is an essential component of TQM.

Pillar Three (P3): Practice of Quality Control Tools and Techniques

Primary responsibility in TQM lies with the employees. Only the application of the correct tools and techniques can enable the employees to identify the right problems with the quality. Statistical Process Control (SPC) is by far the best tool to improve the quality of the products/services. It includes seven basic techniques, namely, Pareto diagram, process flow diagram, cause-and-effect diagram, sheet paper, histogram, control charts, and scatter chart. This technical tool can be used to improve its capacity.

Pillar Four (P4): Focus on Customer

TQM recognises the futility of efforts involved in manufacturing a seemingly perfect product that no client wants. Needless to say, thus, that quality has to be customer oriented. Being customer oriented leads to more attention towards the goal of customer satisfaction which needs to be integrated in the planning processes and their maintenance on a day to day basis. For continuous improvement, the customers’ requirements must be systematically measured and met. The company must organise itself to obtain the necessary information to identify the needs of the clients and obtain reliable and timely comments on the quality levels of the products/services currently available.

Pillar Five (P5): Focus on Supplier Relationship

It is important that the administration allows the purchasing department adequate time to identify several qualified low-cost providers and analyse the information provided. Poor selection of suppliers is possible if an unrealistic deadline is given to the department due to lack of sufficient information from the providers. Better coordination is necessary among different departments such as procurement, engineering, and quality control to evaluate the qualifications for the manufacturing processes of the services. Close working relationships need trust and credibility among the stakeholders which is practically difficult. Companies need to apply the right tools and techniques with systems to establish a favourable and satisfactory relationship with the suppliers. Some of these systems include ‘supply systems’; ‘advanced planning and planning’; and ‘transport planning systems.’

Pillar Six (P6): Benchmarking

One of the best tools in understanding and implementing the practice of continuous improvement is benchmarking. It helps in understanding the level of the organisation in terms of its performance as against the best practices in the industry. It borrows the best of the ideas and adapts them to give it a competitive edge in the market. The need for benchmarking begins with the identification of gaps in established process objectives and existing practices and achieves the desired improvements defined in accordance with best practices. Since benchmarking is not a strategy or a business philosophy, it must be used correctly to achieve the expected benefits. Comparative analysis is fast and economical, as the process is imitation- and adaptation-based. It is not a pure invention.

Pillar Seven (P7): Improvement of Processes

Training of employees and adapting for newer technologies can lead to process improvement. Process improvement can be the beginning of a quality programme. Most authors favour an attitude of zero defects and a ‘just in time’ attitude for the quality agenda, which implies a zero faults mentality. Refinement involves activities that continuously improve a process that is not interrupted. This improves efficiency and effectiveness. It is easier for all to adopt this policy to undertake doing things faster and better with little waste. Innovation and technological advances are key factors in the renewal strategy which lead to important improvements.

Pillar Eight (P8): Involvement of Employee

Continuous improvement in a process is achieved when employees are involved in decision-making. This happens when they are trained to make decisions. This is one of the objectives of the TQM implementation. It aids in improving quality and a rise in productivity. It is clear that employees must participate in any process of change, including quality management practices. Employee participation in the implementation and planning phase of reward and recognition activity is essential. Rewards for efforts that are appreciated by the administration should be one of the strategies in rewarding people in the organisation. An important reward system based on the achievements of the team can be considered. An effective reward and recognition system must be based on the evaluation of the performance of the employees. This shall serve as a basis for their career advancement in the company in terms of promotions or salary hikes. It also helps in aligning the employee with the organisation’s goals.

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