A new definition of quality

While the traditional definitions and measurements of quality are worth aspiring to, I would like to offer an additional level of thinking. Webster’s definition defines quality as a general term applicable to any trait or characteristic whether individual or generic. In management, quality depends on many factors. For example, being open and honest at work, seeking positive change, being proactive, and looking for new creative solutions can all be ways of seeking a quality direction. I would even suggest that taking risks and even making mistakes can fall under quality seeking category if one’s heart was in the right place. There is always much that is going on at work that was never explained or communicated. The Best Manager is open, honest, and seeking positive change. The best manager is communicating both the why and the how to change. This is quality and we need more of this from managers.

Examples of Bad Quality Management

I have seen many examples of bad quality management approaches. Picking a quota for how many good performers there should be vs. poor performers. Deciding that the goal for revenue growth this year should be 8 % based on no data. Deciding that only certain people are eligible for job transfer based on their past job performance. Continuing routine processes which adds no value and which people dislike such as the annual performance review, the employee of the month award, and the performance ranking and rating system. The best manager is on the lookout for processes which no longer make sense and ready to change when needed.

Examples of Good Quality Management

The best manager holds creative brainstorming meetings seeking for new ideas. Customers and employees are invited. The best manager implements collaborative processes at work which enable people to work together and not compete vs. one another. Other examples of management quality would be giving people a voice at work. This includes giving people choice as to how they work and when they work. Having processes which encourage creativity, risk taking, and new approaches are all examples of management quality. When in doubt, The best manager works on common solutions, listens well, and communicates plans and activity through multiple methods.

How to encourage and role model quality at work

The best manager doesn’t settle for the status quo. The best manager is always seeking better ways to get results and new approaches to old problems which have not been tried before. The best manager isn’t afraid to ask questions, challenge the status quo, and be creative in getting results with people. The best manager involves customers when seeking new approaches and when resolving difficult problems. All of this provides an open door for people to practice new ways of quality as well.

When quality is poor

When quality is poor, products and services suffer, morale is lowered, and customers lose confidence in the brand. It becomes harder to attract both new customers and new employees. It becomes harder to retain employees. As a result, people drag their bodies to work and leave their hearts and minds at home. No one cares any longer and everyone seems to go through the motions at work. Office gossips take over and productivity goes way down. The best manager is always on the lookout for poor quality and doesn’t ignore or accept status quo.

When quality works!

When there is quality at work, people have more energy. As a result, new ideas seem to flow throughout the organization. People tend to be happier at work and enjoy the culture better. The brand and organization has a better reputation with its customers. Quality breeds quality. People start to look out for one another more, helping, teaching, seeking to improve. More people want to join the organization when quality is up and less people want to leave. The best manager is an example on a daily basis of quality in both actions and values.

The ways to measure quality

Make measurement objective. Ask how, why, how much, and when as examples of approaches in the environment when role modeling quality. The best manager measures with the team the things which matter. People have their work measured as a collective process. Each person can see how their work fits into the bigger picture. There are opportunities to communicate and see how other projects and efforts throughout the organization are moving along. Decisions are made based on first understanding trends using data and input. The best manager knows that people respond better when they understand how they are being measured and for what.

No more contests

The best manager does not reward quality with silly games such as Friday dress down days, movie tickets, and free lunches. The best manager knows providing external rewards only reinforce the need for bigger and better rewards next time. The best manager makes quality part of the culture and behaviors. As a result, there is no need to reward more than a manager would reward good listening skills.

Learning summary and next steps!

Make a list of ten processes in your organization which are not adding value. Make a second list how you might replace or delete these non-valued activities and show what the impact might be on people and the organization. This would be a good process to involve the whole team and would be a good way to role model positive management and everyday quality at work!

Craig Nathanson

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