Management and Worker Participation in Quality Management

For effective and efficient management of an organisation, people’s involvement is necessary. Workers’ participation, recognition, empowerment, and enhancement of competence provides the involvement of people in achieving the organisational goals.

In the global market, there is a tough competitive environment in the industrial arena. The new organisations entering into the market, locally and globally, have provided the customer with a wide variety of choices for products. To grow and succeed in a competitive market, every organisation needs to focus on quality improvement in problem-solving and processes used for it. Total Quality Management (TQM) is a continuous process that strives to increase customer satisfaction, lower costs, and minimise defects and variations in every aspect and every process of the business

Salient Features of TQM

  • • To involve every employee in the organisation to improve quality and customer satisfaction.
  • • Managers take decisions and send them to workers.
  • • Top to bottom management system.
  • • Slow and inflexible.
  • • Focuses on the importance of employee involvement.

Employee Involvement

This is a system for direct participation of employee by giving them responsibilities for organisational success. Many companies have started involving their employees in the problem-solving and decision-making process of the firm. It is one participative style of management.

For example, we consider the case study of Ford: A problem arises in Ford - they suffer from a competitive threat from car manufacturers in Japan, and a study has been carried out on their performance efficiency. After this study, they found that performance and efficiency was high because of their empowered workforce and the teamwork they have. Employers gave the responsibility for the relevant process to the workers themselves so that if they found the quality failed to meet the standards specified, they could stop the process. This gave them a feeling of being an owner not an employee, which pushed them to do their best to achieve quality work.

Principles of TQM

  • • Teamwork.
  • • Training.
  • • Motivation.
  • • Recognition and rewards.
  • • Feedback.
  • • Praise for good work.
  • • Empowerment.

Key Barriers in Implementation of Employee Involvement

  • 1) Lack of experience of workers.
  • 2) Resistance to change from traditional to new system.
  • 3) Lack of trust of workers for management’s motives.
  • 4) Lack of management commitment to employee involvement.
  • 5) Lack of experience in participative activities.

Most of the companies have achieved a strong bond between workers and managers. These companies attain that level through the policies and standards set for TQM. Even this transformation from traditional practices to the new system was a long process. It requires a lot of effort and time, and it is a slow process.

Top Management Commitment

Top management is the uppermost level of management in an organisational system. There are three levels of management - low-level management, middle-level management, and top-level management. Top-level managers are responsible for controlling and overseeing the entire organisation. Top management is made up of the senior officers of an organisation, like the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), President, or Vice-President. Top-level management is focused on market position through long-term planning. Middle-level managers deal with decision-making processes of their area of responsibility and meet the objectives of the organisation.

According to the ISO 9000 series of standards, ‘Top management may be defined as the person or group of people who directs and controls an organisation at the highest level.’ The implementation of a management system should be a decision by top management. But top managers’ commitment is not always clearly understood by the employees. Top management is the board of directors. They make the vision and mission of the company and set the objectives of the company.

Top Management Responsibilities

  • • To set the policies and objectives of the organisation.
  • • To focus on customer requirements.
  • • To make sure that appropriate processes are implemented for achieving objectives.
  • • To check the quality management system is established, implemented, and maintained and is effective and efficient at reaching the quality objectives.
  • • To make sure that the availability of resources is sufficient.
  • • To review the effectiveness of the system on a regular basis.
  • • To set an action plan for the quality policy.
  • • To set actions for system improvements.

Quality Circle

A QC is a group of workers who do the same or similar work and meet regularly to identify, analyse, and solve work-related problems A QC group is small in size and led by a supervisor or manager. The results or solutions they find are finally presented in front of management. Even then, wherever possible, workers independently implement the solutions to improve performance, which motivates other employees/workers. The QC concept is based on respect for the individual. It builds mutual trust and understanding between workers and management. QCs were most popular during the 1980s. QC involves paying attention to major topics like improving safety and health, improving product design, and making improvements in the workplace and processes used in production. The structure of a QC is shown in Figure 8.3.

The QC concept was introduced in 1962 by a Japanese Company named Nippon Wireless and Telegraph. QCs are formal groups of employees. They meet regularly during working hours and are trained by experts (known as facilitators) who may be industrial experts and specialists in the basic skills of problem identification, information gathering, analysis, statistics, and solution generation. QCs are free to select any topic they wish (other than those related to salary and terms and conditions of work). QCs have the advantage of continuity, meaning the circle remains intact from project to project.

Structure of a quality circle

FIGURE 8.3 Structure of a quality circle.

Salient Features of a Quality Circle

  • • QCs are formal groups of employees.
  • • QCs are free to select the topic of their choice.
  • • It provides an opportunity to the members of the QC to use their creativity, wisdom, and experience for making improvements in the work.
  • • It builds trust and understanding among employees and management.

Objectives of a Quality Circle

  • • To improve productivity, quality, and safety, and reduce costs.
  • • To provide an opportunity to the members to use their wisdom and creativity.
  • • To enhance self-development, such as leadership qualities.
  • • To support the motivational needs and self-esteem of employees.
  • • To improve the quality of life of members.

Benefits of a Quality Circle

  • • Cost reduction.
  • • Increase productivity.
  • • Improve quality.
  • • Better communication.
  • • Increased teamwork.
  • • Smooth working.
  • • Great sense of belonging.
  • • Increase safety.
  • • Knowledge and skills of workers fully utilised.

Zero Defects

Zero defects is a management tool which reduces defects through prevention. It may be defined as a state where defects are eliminated and reduced to zero. This philosophy was introduced in 1960s by Philip Crosby. It is used by automobile industry for first time. Zero defects concepts mean no wastage in production. A lot of objections and criticism has been faced by the concept. Some researchers say that there cannot be a state of zero defects. Zero defects in quality management refers to a state where waste is eliminated and defects are reduced. It means ensuring quality standards and reducing defects to the level of zero in projects.

Let us explain it with an example. Suppose there is a product developed with zero defects in terms of quality today, but in future it may lack in features that the new product will have. So, we cannot say that the object or product is perfect. The zero defects concept is based on perfection to improve quality. Perfection might not be achievable, but at least it will lead towards an improvement in quality. The parameters of the zero defects concept are shown in Table 8.1.


Parameters of Zero Defects Concept

S. No.


Zero Defects Concept



Prevention of defects


Key idea

Works right the first time and every time



Higher cost



Continual improvement through leadership



No defects are acceptable



Applicable to every job


Workers’ involvement

Worker can identify the problem



Limited employees needed

Principles of Zero Defects

  • • Quality is conformance to requirements.
  • • Prevention of defects is preferable.
  • • The standard of quality is always zero defects.
  • • Quality is measured on the basis of price.

Zero Defects Theory

Zero defects theory means that there is zero waste in a production system. Waste applies to all unproductive processes, tools, and employees, etc. The unproductive things that do not add value to a project should be eliminated from the work or production system. This is the process of elimination of waste, waste reduction, and reduction of costs involved in waste. This is the move towards perfection. Zero defects theory works on the fact that all work should be perfect the very first time. Zero defects theory is based on four elements for implementation in the system. They are:

  • • Quality is a state of assurance.
  • • Zero defects.
  • • Quality comes first.
  • • Quality in terms of money.


  • • Cost reduction.
  • • Waste reduction.
  • • Improves services.
  • • Improves quality.
  • • Customer satisfaction.


  • • Increased costs in defect finding.
  • • Work environment and production may be affected by strictness.

Small Group Activity

Small group activity is also known as continuous improvement. It is a method for problem-solving by making a team of some members who search for the root causes of problems, and solutions to eliminate them. In manufacturing plants, solving problems is limited to the removal of the symptoms, and does not go into the root cause of the problem. We have a tendency to spend more time on solving the problems, and forget about the complete study of the problem. The root causes are not removed. Therefore, the problem will be repeated. With the help of the SGA, you first find the root cause and remove it completely. The final solution is standardised, which prevents the recurrence of the problem. For all this process, team members should learn the use of techniques like cause-and-effect diagrams or fishbone diagrams. The team members should also learn communication skills, teamwork, and decision-making in order to use their knowledge and experience.

Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement is based on a Japanese concept called kaizen, which is the philosophy of continually seeking ways to improve operations’ (as shown in Figure 8.4). It includes identification of standards of excellent practices and developing a sense of ownership of the process among employees.

Cause-and-Effect Diagram

In the year 1950, Ishikawa first developed this tool in Japan, to explain the causes that affected the production of steel. This was further developed by Ishikawa in the early 1950s in Japan. It identifies all the probable reasons/causes of an effect or problem. It provides a basis for brainstorming sessions and has the power to categorise ideas to form useful solutions. It gives a systematic representation of causes and their effects on a problem. A cause-and-effect diagram is also known as a fishbone diagram, as shown in Figure 8.5.

How to Construct a Fishbone Diagram

Step 1: Define the problem statement, also known as the effect of a process.

Step 2: Conduct the brainstorming session to identify all the possible causes of a problem. The focus here is people, machines, materials, inspections and testing, maintenance, safety, and services, or the service after sales.

Step 3: Try to categorise all the possible causes.

Step 4: Again, try to identify all the sub-causes of the main cause by using the question ‘why?’ and develop a high level of understanding of all causes. Step 5: Draw the causes and all possible sub-causes in a diagram.

Continuous improvement (kaizen)

FIGURE 8.4 Continuous improvement (kaizen).

Structural Approach

‘SGA structure is taken from PDCA-circle given by Dr. W. Edwards Deming’ (1982). It consists of eight steps on the basis of the SGA circle, as shown in Figure 8.6. The SGA team works independently. SGA will be used when the problem needs more than one person and no one answer for it is available.

The eight steps of the SGA process shown in Figure 8.6 are:

  • 1. Identify and choose a problem.
  • 2. Determine the objectives.
  • 3. Analysis of the problem.
  • 4. Finding solutions.
  • 5. Data analysis.
  • 6. Execution of solutions.
  • 7. Solution checking (if it works or not).
  • 8. Standardise the solution, which is final.
Cause-and-effect diagram (fishbone diagram)

FIGURE 8.5 Cause-and-effect diagram (fishbone diagram).

Structure of an SGA project

FIGURE 8.6 Structure of an SGA project.

Advantages of SGA:

  • • Team-owned solutions are always received with more enthusiasm than imposed solutions.
  • • Improves the relationships between the participants.
  • • The group usually generates better solutions than solo person.


After this chapter, the reader will be able to understand the concept of human aspects of the management of quality and the success of a business. Organisations who want to gain profit and sustainability in business have to focus on customer satisfaction, continuous improvement, and development of their human resources. TQM can change the working of an organisation by adopting new techniques, education, and training. The total quality management system works for continual improvement at all levels, and also is constantly upgrading the skill levels of all employees, which can only happen through continuous education and training. Top management and all the other employees play a vital role in providing quality products and services to customers. Therefore, to achieve overall performance excellence, organisations need to input Total Employee Involvement (TEI). Employees are the main force who makes the difference between a world-class organisation and an ordinary organisation.

Case Studies

Case Study 1: Aerospace Manufacturing Company

Customer: Global supplier of aircraft titanium casting parts.

Purpose: Producing zero-defect aircraft parts.


Customer’s requirement:

  • • Overall aircraft safety and producing zero-defect parts.
  • • Also wants costs associated with expensive production of titanium casting parts as well as costs associated with assembly to be managed.


The challenges facing them:

  • • Management of production costs, as titanium casting parts are expensive to produce.
  • • Management of delivery times, as parts needs to be produced on time because they are part of a complex assembly process.
  • • Maintain quality with zero defects.
  • • Creation of a production model.
  • • Customer satisfaction with quality and work.


The actions taken to solve the challenges:

• Costs: They adopted a production process to produce parts in machines which allowed faster and more efficient inspection.

  • • Delivery time: They made improvements in technology, machines, equipment, and continuous improvement processes that provided a shortened lead time.
  • • Zero defects: They made new fixtures and using them eliminated hand intervention.
  • • Model: They received the customer’s permission to use a digitised part for programming a model to use in production.


  • • High quality of parts produced.
  • • Less human intervention.
  • • Better tool life and management of that tool for other manufacturing techniques.

Case Study 2: Quality Circles Programme at Hughes Aircraft17

Objective: To promote workers’ participation in management.

Area: Hybrid microwave devices manufacturer.

Problem: Excessive errors in assembly, part scrapping, re-work.


  • • Insufficient lighting, dirty projector screens, and lack of colour-coded documents.
  • • Minor changes in the assembly planning documents.
  • • To study the documents on assembly errors, part scrapping, and re-working.


  • • Send a request to the environmental health and safety department to conduct a lighting check, set overhead lighting, and replace the existing station lighting.
  • • Clean screens on projector and warped slides were replaced and all assembly documents were coloured.


  • • Provided for the growth and development of individual workers.
  • • Created a more viable and collaborative work group.
  • • Increase in information-sharing among their staff, increased cooperation, and willingness to make an extra effort.

Points to Remember

  • Motivation: Motivation is the force behind each and every action, willingness, and goal of any person.
  • Quality circle: A quality circle is a group of workers who do the same or similar work and meets regularly to identify, analyse, and solve work- related problems.
  • Zero defects: Zero defects is a management tool which reduces defects through prevention.

Self-Assessment Questions

  • 1. What do you mean by human aspects?
  • 2. What are the main human aspects in management?
  • 3. What is commitment?
  • 4. What are the types of commitment?
  • 5. What is job commitment?
  • 6. What do you mean by motivation?
  • 7. What are the types of motivation?
  • 8. Differentiate between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.
  • 9. Explain various theories of motivation.
  • 10. What do you mean by employee involvement in quality management?
  • 11. What do you mean by continuous improvement?
  • 12. Explain the structure of top management.
  • 13. List the various responsibilities of top management in quality improvement.
  • 14. What is a quality circle? Explain its structure, advantages, and disadvantages.
  • 15. What do you mean by zero defects?
  • 16. Explain the steps involved in making a cause-and-effect diagram.
  • 17. What is a fishbone diagram? What is it used for?
  • 18. Explain small group activities. What are its advantages?


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