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Three Different Approaches in Total Quality Management

written by: Linda Richter • edited by: Jean Scheid • updated: 1/24/2012

It's wise to evaluate approaches of Total Quality Management (TQM) that best suit your type of business, your personal management style, and your customers. Here we're looking at three of the top favorite management processes: Empowering your team, Pareto charts, and ISO quality procedures.

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    What is TQM?

    Deming from fda.gov 

    As you consider your approaches of Total Quality Management (TQM), you have to evaluate which methods best suit your company and your management style. The term came from the teachings of the late statistician and industrial consultant, W. Edwards Deming, who promoted five basic principles:

    • Reduce errors that occur during the manufacture or presentation of a product or service.
    • Render efficiency among the components (staff or company departments) necessary to produce the product or service.
    • Utilize the most modern equipment or procedures available.
    • Maintain constant levels of employee training and education.
    • Assess levels of customer satisfaction.

    Some of Deming’s most renowned work centered on adhering to qualify specifications, but Deming believed in more than slide rule measurements and calibration techniques. His formula for success focused on quality as the outcome of work efforts divided by the total costs. This theory held that by concentrating on manufacturing a quality product, costs would naturally decline over time. Conversely, Deming believed that when companies focused all their efforts on reducing costs, then quality was jettisoned. There are multiple approaches of Total Quality Management, and many managers like these three best:

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    Create the Ultimate TQM Environment

    Employees and departments should not feel as if they are in competition with one another. If you are managing TQM, then your primary goal is to ensure that you instill a sense of pride in your workers that will build cross-functional teams of employees. Lessen your focus on merit increases and statistical achievements, and increase attention toward the individual’s contribution. Reward self-improvement and cooperative efforts among employees. When product tests show repeatedly demonstrable improvements, celebrate the success with your staff.

    Your approach with clients should be to offer a quality product, not the cheapest-possible product or most-quickly-produced product. A company that follows this formula might experience higher costs in the beginning, but as workers become accustomed to details of the job, the processes will become streamlined—and thus less costly—as a natural byproduct.

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    Utilizing Pareto Charts

    While Deming eschewed too much attention to statistics, it’s true that charting can clarify causes versus their effects. The Pareto chart illustrates the principle put forth by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto that approximately 80 percent of your defects come from 20 percent of your problems. Create a Pareto chart to display what you believe are current negative factors in a given area; note where the line you have plotted along your x-axis meets the 80% mark on your y-axis. Whatever you capture to the left of that line is important. Whatever is on the right might be bothersome to you personally, but its overall effect on your product or service quality is negligible.

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    ISO: Setting Standards for Consistency

    peacock by llamnudds on flickr 

    The ISO has been around since 1947, and many companies are certified in one or another level of ISO standards. It trains groups of employees to function consistently in performance of job duties in order to ensure predictable outcomes. Whether or not your company achieves ISO certification, the wise supervisor appreciates the importance behind a standardization process.

    Why is it so important to practice consistency? Consider the last time you took a cardiopulmonary resuscitation class. You learned that if you come upon an unconscious victim, there is a series of steps through which you must proceed if you want to pass the course (and, of course, revive the victim). You cannot bypass the seemingly simple steps; you’ve got to check that the environment is safe, you must shake and shout to the victim, and next call 911. Only then can you perform the seemingly more important steps such as checking for breathing, tilting back the head, and giving your initial rescue breaths. But by learning each step in order by rote, you are learning a mnemonic; if need to put your skills to use in a true emergency, you will automatically perform all the correct steps.

    The same applies to standardization of procedures within a company. It’s wise to review policies and procedures across all departments and determine where cross-training will render your employees able to act uniformly and efficiently, whether it applies to product development, customer satisfaction, or any other area of procedure. Uniformity of process can result in vivid, satisfying achievements.

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    Result: A Corporate Culture Based on Quality

    Remember: You can combine various approaches of Total Quality Management to best suit your company, your product or service, and your management style. As you steer your corporate culture toward appreciation of each contributing employee as well as the customer, your quality will climb and your costs will drop.