Every quality professional understands how important engagement is for embedding a culture of quality.
Not only does an engaged workforce better understand their roles - resulting in fewer issues, less wastage and lower costs; they are also more proactive - resulting in better customer experience, more referrals and higher customer lifetime value.
Sadly, however, it can be very difficult to drive engagement with quality, especially in growing organisations where many stakeholders are already feeling stretched. Management switch-off at the prospect of another humdrum status report meeting. Employees forget to submit important paperwork. And suppliers do not provide important credentials.
So how can you get your stakeholders to engage with quality? Unfortunately, there is not a 'one size fits all' solution. It's not easy - even veteran quality professionals struggle to drive engagement with quality and every organisation will be different. You need to be bold, creative and flexible - and ideas may not come that easily when you are trying to prepare for an upcoming audit.
Here are ten ideas to inspire you and your team to promote quality in your organisation.
CQI Competency Framework
1) Ask for Opinions
When employees don't feel as if they can speak up, they may be holding back valuable ideas and solutions that could help propel your organisation forward. Asking for opinions will give you some valuable insights and help you to embed an 'open-door policy'.
Here are some ways you could ask for opinions:
- Invite groups of your employees to a monthly roundtable.
- Embed feedback into processes using systems such as EQMS Issue Manager.
- Send a survey.
The key here is demonstrating that ideas have been actioned or passed on. Do not forget to feedback to your employees!
2) Make Time for Mentoring
If you are thinking "Mentoring? As if I have time for that!" - wait just one moment. Mentoring and coaching is a key remit of the quality professional, according to the CQI, the leading professional body for the advancement of quality practices in the UK.
Taking the time to sit with your struggling employees and discuss their challenges will not only help your employees to feel more valued, it also help them to understand and engage more with quality.
Here are some ways you could improve quality mentoring:
- Follow a structured approach.
- Set goals.
- Use systems such as EQMS Training Records Manager to track competency requirements.
- Assess performance on an ongoing basis.
Need some more time? See how much time and money you could save by using the EQMS ROI Calculator.
3) Reward good performance
Good performance can be rewarded either with financial rewards or recognition. Yet few quality professionals are in the position where they have control over financial rewards (even though quality and compliance performance metrics should be taken into consideration for all financial rewards, in every organisation), but this means you will probably need to find more creative ways to reward good quality performance.
Here are a few ways you can recognise good performance:
- Internally: Email or newsletter to the organisation / share a sponge / promote on intranet;
- Externally: Social media / Hosting a quality awards ceremony with all of your employees, suppliers and customers / share on your blog.
4) Improve accountability
Accountability is key to improving engagement with quality initiatives. Holding individuals accountable, rather than teams or departments, will help to prevent a phenomenon known as social loafing, when people in groups exert less effort than when they work alone.
Using systems such as EQMS improves accountability as it will enable you to track individual performance, keep an accurate record of all activity and will tell you what went wrong and why.
5) Clarify goals and responsibilities
One of the biggest issues employees have is confusion over what one's role actually is. Sometimes things get lost in the mix, and it can take some time to identify issues and take action. To avoid this inertia, every employee should have a set of goals and responsibilities. Keeping these goals in a centralised system such as EQMS Document Manager means that employees can be reminded and changes to roles and responsibilities can be managed.
6) Perfect your new employee onboarding process
If you do not already have an initiation program for new starters, you will be missing an important opportunity to nurture and embed a culture of quality and compliance. If you do not think you will have time to manage an onboarding training program, systems such as EQMS Training Records Manager can help. Through pre-configured workflows, you can automatically send training emails, notifications and documentation to your new employees over a set period of time.
7) Celebrate World Quality Day in your organisation
Held every November, World Quality Day gives you the opportunity to promote quality to the rest of your organisation. How and what you do is up to you. But the CQI always has a number of workshops, activities and event ideas on their website. They give you (free) downloadable posters, promotional materials and much more to help raise the profile of quality. Many quality professionals who have taken part in these activities have told Qualsys Ltd that they believe World Quality Day is one of the most valuable ways to drive engagement with quality.
World Quality Day Beer - Qualsys Sends 1000's of Beers to Quality Professionals Across the Globe
8) Provide ongoing training and support
On top of compulsory training, you can arrange for employees to participate in less formal training sessions. By getting employees to say what they want to learn about or using your EQMS Issue Manager module to spot skills gaps, you can suggest a program of interactive learning sessions. You could team up with other departments to put on a series of webinars, roundtables or even lunchtime 'hot seat' sessions. This will help you to embed a culture of learning and continuous improvement.
Also, if you record these sessions, you can then upload them to EQMS Document Manager so those who were absent can still keep up to date.
9) Host your own events
It may sound like a lot of hardwork and you may even be thinking "Where will I get the budget for this?!" But a well-executed event can give you the opportunity to really engage in a dialogue with your employees, suppliers and partners.
If you are an EQMS customer, Qualsys can sponsor your stakeholder engagement events by providing you with event plans, speakers and promotial materials. Qualsys also run a number of user-groups, customer summits, supplier roadshows and conferences throughout the year which can be useful inspiration for your own events. For more information, please contact email@example.com.
10) Start a weekly quality circle
At the end of each week, get some biscuits, buns or beers and invite your stakeholders to your 'quality circle.' It will give you an opportunity to share stories and talk to those in departments you may not normally get the chance to speak to. Read more about Qualsys' quality circle.
For more ideas, download the stakeholder engagement toolkit.