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What's the key to quality control?

TOTAL QUALITY MANAGEMENT (TQM) is a philosophy that focuses on improving customer and employee satisfaction, as well as profitability. One of the key factors of TQM is that of employee involvement through team work. Without it, even the best-intentioned TQM program cannot succeed. To have an effective team, however, a company must emphasize the people part of the equation through enlightened management, ethics, and the elimination of fear.

Employees cannot put their best foot forward if they fear losing their jobs or if they do not find management's behavior ethical and rational, according to the theories of W. Edwards Deming, the legendary business strategist who transformed Japanese business operations in the 1950s. Deming has guided numerous American companies in enhancing quality and improving their financial performance. He includes the elimination of fear in his fourteen-point plan for revitalizing an organization. Other points, which will not be discussed here, address practical, broad-based strategies, such as creating a mission, instituting ongoing training at all levels, and eliminating quotas.

Fear of reprisals can affect an employee's willingness to speak freely in a TQM open-discussion forum. Consider the following example. A loyal employee and ardent follower of TQM strongly believed in his managers' commitment to TQM and its problem-solving teams. This employee jumped on the TQM bandwagon, volunteered for teams, and made every effort to contribute his ideas, whether negative or positive, during team meetings.

Senior management was not as interested in the success of this team effort as the employees were led to believe. Much of what was said during these meetings was passed on directly to senior management--a clear violation of the teaming principles. Only the team's solutions or recommendations to problems should be communicated outside the team. Because of this breach in TQM principles, this employee feared his job would be in jeopardy if he remained active in the TQM process. Consequently, he resigned from the team.

On his annual performance evaluation, he received an overall score of four on a scale of one through five--one indicating the best performance, five indicating the best performance, five indicating the worst. He analyzed the appraisal's eight categories, in which he was rated with twos and threes on the same one through five scale. Since management never approached him during the year about his performance and provided no justification for low scores, he was confused as to why he received such a poor overall rating.

In another case, a security department issued its mission statement as recommended by Deming. The department's statement read that the security department desired to be recognized throughout its customer base as an organization known for its integrity, commitment, and responsiveness. Six critical operating principles were developed. One principle was to have in place a work environment for the employees that would foster satisfaction, pride, and creativity. Through a solid reform system, employees were to experience satisfaction, pride, and belief in their abilities.

Later, a new position became available at one of the company's field operations. Resumes were requested, and interviews were conducted by a team. The new position was given to one of the members of the interview team. Many people protested the unethical selection process, but nothing was done to correct the problem.

A third organization that had been following TQM principles was forced to lay off employees due to canceled contracts. One employee with more than twenty-five years of service was told that her job was being eliminated. After being laid off, she discovered that her job had been given to a man thirty years her junior. She appealed the hiring decision but lost and remained laid off.

These cases illustrate how some organizations have failed to train and educate managers in leadership techniques that truly carry out the spirit of TQM. They have created managers who manage without relating to people as people. In such environments, management has taken the principles of TQM and manipulated them to fit its own selfish needs.

TQM will not grow rich in this soil. Failures are so damaging that we may not be able to salvage the TQM efforts. Worst of all, we may not be able to salvage the people harmed by managers unskilled in TQM.

It is only after companies educate managers to be leaders that they can embark on a TQM philosophy. As Verne E. Henderson relates in his book What's Ethical in Business?, we must adopt a philosophy of cooperation, participation, and leadership directed at continuous improvement of quality.

Quality, however, is only the goal. People are the means. We are spending such an enormous amount of time on number crunching that we have begun to spend less and less time on the people principle of TQM. Remember, it takes people to make TQM work.

Jerry Schoonover, CPP, is security manager for the Alexander Haagen Company, Inc., in Burbank, California. He is a member of ASIS.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Viewpoint; Total Quality Management
Author:Schoonover, Jerry
Publication:Security Management
Article Type:Column
Date:Oct 1, 1993
Previous Article:Management of Aggressive Behavior.
Next Article:Connecting multiple systems for maximum efficiency.

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