Total Quality Management (TQM) is a good way to drive a company towards continuous improvement, and it’s a tightly focused approach that relies on improving the overall quality of the company’s products or services by a noticeable margin. Quality control is an integral part of any business, and when TQM is applied, the effort is spread across the entire organization rather than having a dedicated single department for it.
A major part of TQM is aligning the company with the requirements of its customers, and delivering a product that meets them in every way (and exceeds them if the current production resources allow for that). With that in mind, the main driving factor behind implementing TQM should be the requirements of the company’s users.
Building on Customer Satisfaction
It’s a simple relationship understood by every leader – better customer satisfaction leads to better long-term results for the whole company. And obviously, aligning the company’s work towards the common goal of driving up that satisfaction will result in better productivity across the board. However, some leaders don’t seem to understand the full implications of integrating customer satisfaction within the organization on such a fundamental level, and an improper application of TQM leads to a situation where you might as well not even be applying TQM at all.
Recording the performance of each product on the market is critical, and the company needs to have good measures in place to ensure that this data can be analyzed as thoroughly as necessary. Once you’ve built up a good data set that covers your whole operation from A to Z, you’ll start to see some patterns between the work of different departments and the final outcome in terms of customer satisfaction. And this leads us to another important point…
Quality Is Everyone’s Responsibility
A fundamental difference between TQM and other quality control approaches is in the way it treats failure to meet expectations. In many organizations, dissatisfied customers are usually blamed on specific nodes in the production chain, typically lower on the ladder and closer to the actual production floor.
That’s a huge mistake though, and not only does it lead to a decline in productivity and results in the organization, but it can also result in innocent employees being blamed for mistakes that were ultimately the result of mishandled management.
The company’s leader is as much at fault when an unsatisfied customer complains as is everyone on the production floor, but only companies with a proper implementation of TQM tend to see things that way. And if the leader doesn’t want to take responsibility when appropriate, this can further drag the whole company down by creating an atmosphere of distrust and lack of loyalty.
Dissatisfied Customers Ruin the Whole Company
And that’s the key detail to learn here – when you allow the company to release products that don’t meet customer expectations, this affects the whole organization, even if the immediate punishment falls on people at the lower levels. With that in mind, the first thing an organization must do after implementing TQM is to come up with a comprehensive list of customer requirements that are to be satisfied, and working on that list. Every action taken by the organization should be aligned with the goal of improving things for its customers.
This might sound like an obvious hint, but you’d be surprised by the number of organizations that miss this point and end up working to satisfy their immediate needs. While this may lead to a brief spike in productivity and market performance, it will ultimately ruin the whole company.
Total Quality Management can be an extremely powerful technique for improving your company’s performance on the market, but if you’re not paying extra attention to the needs of your customers and the way your product meets them (or doesn’t), you’re going to run into huge trouble with the overall productivity of the organization at a later stage.