Friday, May 6, 2016

Employee Engagement on Quality Roundtable

This post is for the ASQ's June 2016 Roundtable Discussion of the following topic:

Employee engagement:

1). To what extent do organizations—whether your current employer or previous ones--engage employees about the importance of quality?  
2). How should companies approach this issue? 
3). How can they avoid “sloganeering” and make a real difference?

I want to share my personal experience working with many organizations over 40 years globally and my teaching quality management world-wide for over 23 years as follows:

1). At AT&T Bell Laboratories in Switching Systems Business Unit (SSBU) and International Switching Customer Business Unit (ISCBU) there was great focus on quality improvement initiatives led by Vice President and Executive Directors. The following approaches were undertaken to engage employees about importance of quality:

  • Senior Leadership Team (Executive Directors and Directors) was trained in Quality 101 course to expose them to the importance of quality planning and improvement. 
  • All employees were systematically trained in AT&T's 7 steps Process Quality Management & Improvement (PQMI) guidelines. This led to Division-wide ISO 9001 certification in one year.
  • Systematically deployed US Baldrige Performance Excellence Framework to assess all Business Units on an annual basis.
  • Held Quality Improvement Recognition Events to spread innovative quality improvement initiatives among the workforce.
  • Developed and deployed Employee Recognition & Celebration Process to recognize great work done throughout the Division.
  • The author has trained over 350 professionals at AT&T Bell Labs in ASQ's Certified Quality Engineer (CQE) refresher courses over a five-year period. Of the 350 trainees, 200 took the CQE Exam and 89 became ASQ Certified Quality Engineers.
  • For a decade organized Satellite Broadcast of ASQ's National Quality Month programs to expose all employees to the state-of-the-art quality management practices.
2). Organizations should follow general principles of Talent Engagement Model  shown below for recruiting, involving, motivating, developing, and retaining employees to instill quality improvement culture.


Here are some pointers for effective employee engagement for quality culture:
  • Recruit employees with talent and train them for skills (Reference: Buckingham, M. and Coffman, C. (1999). First Break All the Rules, Gallup Press, Omaha, NE).
  • Involve employees by exposing them to effective teamwork, orientation, mentoring, and effective meeting management practices.
  • Motivate employees by establishing recognition and suggestion systems. Follow the Theory of Strengths (Reference: Clifton, D. O. and Nelson, P. (1992). Soar with Your Strengths, Dell Publishing, New York, NY).
  • Develop employees with appropriate education and training, timely performance feedback, and coaching.
  • Retain key employees with regular dialogue between supervisor and employee at least quarterly (Kaye, B. and Jordan-Evans, S. (2013). Love 'Em or Lose 'Em: Getting Good People to Stay , 5th Edition, Barrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco, CA)
  • Overall Reference: Vora, M. K. (2005). “Managing Human Capital” chapter in Six Sigma for Transactions and Service, P. 471-500, McGraw-Hill, New York, NY.
3). To avoid sloganeering, coach senior leadership team in Dr. Deming's philosophy of systems thinking and expose them to hollowness of slogans versus systematic improvement to create value for the customers and organization.

I look forward to your views on employee engagement for quality.