A culture of quality doesn’t happen by accident. If it’s really a priority for your organization, then leaders throughout the company must make time for it. They must nurture it. They need to allocate a portion of the agenda at management meetings to talk about it. They should reinforce it in communications to employees. They must dedicate the necessary time and resources to make sure that a culture of quality survives and thrives everywhere in the organization, every day.
That may not necessarily sound difficult, – but considering all competing priorities faced by today’s business leaders, it’s easy for cultural issues to get relegated to the back burner. If your job is centered around quality and fostering a culture of continuous improvement in your organization, you’re competing with a CFO who’s concerned about cash flow and keeping costs in line with the budget. You’re competing with a VP of Sales who’s calling for management’s attention to closing deals before the end of the quarter. And with the HR department, which is struggling to maintain staffing amid an ongoing labor shortage.
How you make sure quality gets the attention it deserves? The short answer is: “Connect the dots.” Show upper management how quality programs and a culture of quality impact all of those other priorities. Then make sure you’re reinforcing that message on a routine basis.
A culture of quality has a cascading effect, creating positive results throughout the organization. When management fully understands that, they’ll make quality a priority.
Quality Makes Good Financial Sense
In a recent post, we addressed the financial benefits of quality management initiatives. Consider the aforementioned CFO, focused on cost containment and staying within this year’s budget. What is the impact of good quality programs on costs? It reduces scrap. It results in less time and effort spent re-working product. It lowers shipping costs. Effective quality programs decrease the number of customer returns and post-sales service calls to fix problems. They lower the likelihood of recalls, positively impacting liability risks.
If your job is centered on quality management, then you already understand the positive impact it can have on bottom-line profitability. Be sure to develop a constructive relationship with the finance leaders within your organization, and to clearly align around metrics that track the cost of quality (COQ) and the cost of poor quality (COPQ) in your company.
Quality Drives Sales
Quality drives consumer loyalty, and it results in increased sales. The VP of Sales probably cares more about meeting this quarter’s revenue targets than he or she does about next quarter’s or next year’s goals. Nevertheless, the company’s cumulative reputation for quality has an impact on every sale. In this age of social media and online reviews, word travels fast. When quality is not up to customer expectations, buyers hear about it quickly.
Yesterday’s quality failures have a negative impact upon today’s sales. The good news is that the opposite is also true. When companies establish a strong positive reputation for quality products and services, it makes the sales team’s job a lot easier.
Sales leaders in your organization might not intuitively understand the contribution of quality management programs in this process. It pays to proactively communicate the value of QMS to those leaders on a regular basis, to help them understand the connection between quality initiatives and their efforts to meet their quarterly and annual targets. Sharing key metrics such as a net promoter score (NPS) with those leaders can help to get the point across.
Quality Supports a Fully Engaged Workforce
A culture of quality fosters an environment in which employees find meaning in their work, take pride in being part of a winning team, and are willing to go the extra mile to get the job done right. In other words, employees are more fully engaged.
How does that help your human resources department? Employee engagement leads to lower turnover. That means lower costs related to hiring and training new employees. (Your CFO will like that, too.) It means a 41% lower rate of absenteeism. They contributes to an environment where people enjoy coming to work. A positive culture of quality makes HR’s job easier.
Hopefully you’ve seen a pattern here. When leaders throughout the company understand the benefits they accrue as a result quality management in your organization, it’s a lot easier for executive-level management to recognize QMS as a core priority for the company. Make sure you’re communicating with those leaders on a regular basis and providing them with concrete information that illustrates the positive impact of quality.
Building a culture of quality takes time, but it’s well worth it. The team at Intellect would love to be part of that journey with you. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help make quality part of everything you do.