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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're also more proactive. That in turn leads to better customer experiences, more referrals and higher customer lifetime value.
But there's no denying that 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. Suppliers fail to provide important credentials.
So how can you get your stakeholders to engage with quality? There's no 'one size fits all' solution and it isn't easy – even veteran quality professionals struggle to drive this kind of engagement, and every organisation will be different. You need to be bold, creative and flexible – and ideas may not come that easily when you're preparing for an upcoming audit.
Here are 10 proven strategies to inspire you and your team to promote quality in your organisation.
#1 – Ask for opinions
When employees don't feel as if they can speak up, they may be withholding valuable ideas and solutions that could help propel your organisation forward. Asking your staff for opinions will give you valuable insight and help you to create an 'open-door policy'.
You could ask for opinions by:
- Inviting groups of employees to a monthly roundtable
- Building feedback into processes using systems such as Qualsys's CAPA software module
- Sending your employees a survey
Whether you've acted on your employees' ideas or not, the key is to always give them feedback!
#2 – Make time for mentoring
If you're thinking "Mentoring? I don't have time for that!", wait just one moment. Mentoring and coaching is a key responsibility of the quality professional, according to the Chartered Quality Institute (CQI), the leading professional body for the advancement of quality practices in the UK.
Taking the time to sit with struggling employees and discuss their challenges will not only make those people feel more valued, it'll also help them to understand and engage more with quality.
You could improve quality mentoring by:
- Following a structured approach
- Setting goals
- Using systems such as Qualsys's training records management software to track competency requirements
- Assessing performance on an ongoing basis
#3 – Reward good performance
Good performance can be rewarded either financially or with recognition, yet few quality professionals are in a position to offer the former (even though quality and compliance performance metrics should be considered for all financial rewards, in every organisation). What this means is that you'll probably need to find more creative ways to reward good performance.
You can recognise good performance:
- Internally: by sending emails or newsletters to the organisation, by sharing a sponge or by promoting through your organisation's intranet
- Externally: on social media, by hosting a quality awards ceremony with all of your employees, suppliers and customers, or by sharing the news on your blog.
#4 – Improve accountability
Accountability is key to improving engagement with quality. 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'll enable you to track individual performance, keep an accurate record of all activity, and learn what went wrong and why.
#5 – Clarify goals and responsibilities
One of the biggest issues employees have is confusion over their actual role. Sometimes things get lost in the mix, and it can take time to identify issues and act upon them.
To avoid this inertia, every employee should have a set of goals and responsibilities. Keeping these goals in a centralised system such as Qualsys's document management module means you can remind employees of their roles and responsibilities and easily manage any changes to them.
#6 – Perfect your onboarding process
If you don't already have an initiation programme for new starters, you'll be missing an important opportunity to nurture and embed a culture of quality and compliance.
If you don't think you'll have time to manage an onboarding training programme, systems such as our training records management software can help. Through pre-configured workflows, you can automatically send training emails, notifications and documents to your new employees over a set period of time.
It's also worth adding a 'quality gatepost' for all new staff. Add hiring criteria such as 'quality understanding' or 'GRC awareness' to your job advertisements and explore them in interviews.
#7 – Celebrate World Quality Day
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 you raise the profile of quality. Many quality professionals who've taken part in these activities tell Qualsys that they believe World Quality Day is one of the most valuable ways to drive engagement with quality.
World Quality Day Beer – Qualsys sends thousands of
'The 4:00PM Pint' beers to quality professionals across the globe
#8 – Provide ongoing training and support
On top of compulsory training, you can arrange for employees to take part in less formal training sessions. By getting employees to guide their own learning or using our CAPA software module to spot gaps in their skills, you can suggest a programme 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.
Records of these sessions can then be added to your document management module so those who were absent can still keep up to date.
#9 – Host your own events
It may sound like a lot of hard work 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're a Qualsys customer, we can sponsor your engagement events by providing you with event plans, speakers and promotional 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 email firstname.lastname@example.org.
#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'll give you an opportunity to share stories and talk to people in departments with whom you may not normally have much contact.
What you should do now
Try our free training toolkit, designed to help you embed a cooperative, business-wide culture of quality: