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We're all in it together - World Quality Day

Quality is a small word that encompasses so much in our lives. Think about the last time you bought a car, had home renovations or even bought a pint of milk. Did the process of doing these tasks run smoothly or did something unforeseen arise? How did you rate the overall quality of the products and the experience? Did you complain? The point is that quality encompasses a large portion of our day to day lives. So, at work it should be no different.

Within an organisation, every single person is working towards the same quality standards and depending on the type of organisation, there will be a variation in the accountabilities each employee takes. Factors such as enterprise size, geography and job level all have a part to play in how quality is built within an organisation. In terms of measurement, quality is assessed and implemented in various ways such as KPIs, objectives and pareto etc. But other factors such as document control, customer engagement and completeness of activities are also vital indicators to evaluate the wider organisation’s quality too.

It is somewhat unlikely that you will find the word ‘quality’ on many job descriptions, but it is a keyword that is often considered to be a prerequisite of the job. It is intended and embedded within the role without the need to be exclusively mentioned in delivering the aspects and accountabilities in which the role entails.

Think about your daily routine and how much quality is involved – from waking up, getting ready, eating, looking after kids and fulfilling your job requirements at work, even right through to your social and sporting commitments. Now consider how you prioritise quality in each aspect of your daily life and ask yourself – how can I implement quality in my working role and what is required from me from a quality perspective? Could you be doing more to ensure that quality is executed in your role. The focus of quality and culture are growing in unison across organisations and is something that continues to require support, drive and commitment from everyone involved to push it into the right direction. Quality is imperative to drive change, police boundaries and manage change in an organisation. But, this can only work if everyone pulls together.

A limitation in all organisations is the deemed level of quality involvement. ‘Oh, that’s for the quality team to pick up’ or ‘That one’s supplier related’. The battle ground of quality issues in organisations, often by defacto, means that accountability is shifted elsewhere with little ownership at the source or drive for the necessary improvements. Organisations have to motivate a culture of quality ‘heartbeats’ in their employees to help them understand where they fit into the company ‘jigsaw’ to see just how large and significant their piece is on the overall of quality within the organisation.

Many companies will map out their employee risks from a health and safety perspective showing the high risk people who go on site, drive machinery or work shifts and compare them to low risk office 9-5 workers – the evidence is clear there is low and high risk across differing roles. Quality cannot be branded the same, it is not a one size fits all model as varying roles and impacts play a much greater part when assessing quality risks.

On reflection, the ‘we’re all in it together’ focus of this blog couldn’t be more prudent in today’s world. Quality must be paramount for an organisation to improve. International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) drives continuous cyclic improvement from a business management system but the grassroots drive starts with the CEOs, MDs and Directors and it trickles down to the entry and junior/apprentice roles of businesses. It is clear that everyone has a critical role to play in the quality of an organisation.