What is quality? Quality can mean a wide arrange of things to different people. However, every good business strives for quality improvement. The first goal to achieving quality improvement is to know what it is.
The MBA definition of quality is increased efficiency without sacrificing performance. That means you can do more with the same amount of effort. The key phrase being, the same amount of effort. The goal is to work smarter, not harder.
Quality control gets a bad rap in service industries, and mostly because it is often done wrong. Managers, in an attempt to increase quality, will come up with nice sounding empty phrases. After they’ve created the empty phrases, they will simply ask their employees to work harder to live up to the phrase. Now does that sound like working smarter, not harder? Of course not, it is just a perfect example of a lazy manager.
It is estimated that 85% of poor quality lies in leadership. It is up to leadership to give workers the tools they need to work smarter, not harder.
It may be surprising to learn that statistics is the birthplace of quality, but it is.
I was watching the new TV show “Outsourced”. They had a scene where the manager was reviewing the staff, and when reviews came the friend of the manager (who was not selling much) got an excellent review. The others (who were not friends with the manager) did much worse in the review process. Clearly the manager was using his ‘gut’ instead of any real information. The information was later pulled up in the episode, and they were able to able to drastically improve the employees performance.
Can you imagine if managers in a manufacturing plant evaluated machines by how they looked? This would be absurd, but it is how some managers rate service employees.
Using statistics to solve quality problems is a way to stay focused and measure real output. Be warned, that a evaluating employees on statistics alone will result in poor morale, and employees who will purposely manipulate the numbers to make themselves look better.
Let’s take a real life example. Let’s say there is a restaurant who wants to improve their quality. The manager sees that a lot of errors are happening due to errors in the customers orders which are caused by the waitresses and cooks. A bad manager would take the cooks and waitresses into their office and tell them to do better.
A good manager would review the order taking process itself. After researching it, they stumble across an electronic system that will transmit the order straight from the table to the cooks. No handwriting to decipher, no grease can blur any of the writing. After evaluating this method further, order entry is faster, and more accurate. If a restaurant has a large recurring customer base, they can even personalize it so the person’s regular order generates automatically. Now THAT is quality improvement.