Commitment to Quality
A small company has great potential advantage over larger
companies in implementing a TQM program with employees. There
are fewer people to communicate with, and the manager in charge
of implementing the TQM program is generally the owner or CEO.
The CEO can make timely, binding decisions about TQM programs.
A unified and committed team. Personnel in all jobs
must understand and commit to the TQM program and work as a
team. Company personnel must have permission to go beyond the
normal barriers between functional jobs (or departments, if you
have them) to communicate in a timely manner on behalf of
providing quality and customer satisfaction. All employees,
regardless of job, status, or tenure, must understand and commit
to customer satisfaction as a number one priority.
It is not enough for a CEO to tell employees
that they are "empowered" to put
customer satisfaction as a number one priority.
One small company CEO summed it up by saying,
"If you are really committed to building a strong,
customer-oriented company and want to get that same commitment
from your employees, you have to take the risk of encouraging
and showing them how to act entrepreneurially, and reward them
TQM program commitment steps. Small or large companies
serious about making the commitment to TQM and customer
- provide specific programs, written guidelines, and
training sessions for all company personnel
- allow for decision-making and mistakes by all company
- provide a specific timetable for training, behavioral
modification, and feedback
- follow up with customers to obtain feedback on the success
of the new TQM programs
- commit to weeding out uncooperative company personnel
The smaller the company, the more visible the CEO and top
management are to all employees. Top management must not only
commit to TQM and set daily examples, they must also give
explicit permission to employees to act in the same manner.
People may also need training and written guidelines to fully
empower them. This also reduces the personal risks of adapting
new behavior within the company and towards customers.
What about employees who do not have direct customer
contact? Some company employees who do not have regular
direct contact with customers (e.g., shipping and receiving,
plant workers, financial analysts, etc.) may be confused about
what their new role would be with a TQM/customer satisfaction
program. The answer is the more everyone in your company
knows about your customer's business, needs, complaints, and
sources of satisfaction with your company, the more motivated,
productive, and efficient they will be.
Day-to-day activities of an internal staff employee, who has
never even spoken or met with your customers, also affects the
quality of your company's products and services. And ultimately,
all company employees affect customer value and satisfaction.
For example, if customer invoices do not go out on time or there
are shipping mistakes due to poor internal communications, you
may not hear about the problem from your customer. Your customer
may simply switch to a competitor as a way of solving this
Therefore, owners or managers in a small company must commit
to sharing and communicating customer information and customer
feedback with all their company personnel. This
information should consist of the customer's business
description, personality, expectations, problems, opportunities,
and periodic survey feedback (keeping in mind, of course, that
your particular business may demand that certain information
about customers should be kept confidential). Managers must also
allow employees to share and discuss this same customer
information, where confidentiality is not essential, to
encourage fellow employees to
improve quality and customer satisfaction.