Total Quality Management
Total quality management (TQM) is defined as “a philosophy of organization-wide commitment to continuous improvement, focusing on teamwork, customer satisfaction, and lowering costs” (Daft 640). This definition shows the various aspects that are a part of a total quality management approach to business. These include that a TQM approach involves the whole organization, that continuous improvement is a major focus, and that there is an emphasis on satisfying customers. To consider quality management in more detail, these three aspects will now be considered. This will be followed by a consideration of the importance of quality management in business. Finally, the effects on both managers and employees will be discussed. This will provide an overview of quality management, while also showing the impact it has on organizations.
The first important aspect of TQM is that it involves the entire organization. This includes that it involves all tasks, all departments, and all functions. This overall approach was first described by Creech, who described TQM as an approach that puts “quality in every aspect of management” (Creech 7). The important feature is that quality management is not just about identifying areas that are most important to the organization. Instead, it means performing every function well. With the TQM approach, it is considered that improving every aspect of an organization will improve how it operates overall. In addition, it means that even minor improvements will make a major difference, if they are organization-wide.
The next important aspect of TQM is the emphasis on continuous improvement. Continuous improvement is defined by one author as involving everybody in the organization “from the boardroom to the mailroom, in a daily search for incremental improvements” (Cherkasky 6). With this approach, there is no single goal that the organization is aiming to achieve. For example, the goal is not to increase productivity to a certain level, reduce inefficiencies to a certain level, or improve a product until a certain amount of new customers are attained. There is not single goal because the goal of the organization will always be changing. This is true because no matter how much the organization improves, the goal continues to be to find new ways to improve. This also explains why continuous improvement is about incremental improvements, rather than major improvements. The significant point is that a major improvement could not be expected to be found every day. In much the same way, not every employee would be capable of making a significant change. For example, a junior employee with limited experience and limited responsibilities will not be likely to have the knowledge or the authority to recognize ways to improve significantly. However, a junior employee might still be able to find a minor improvement. If everyone in the organization is doing this, the end result can be major because the improvements accumulate. Another aspect of TQM related to continuous improvement involves the use of team. One text describes how teams should be used to identify and solve problems as part of continuous improvement (Daft 641). This involves identifying potential problems that can be prevented, identifying current problems that require solutions, and identifying opportunities for improvement. Teams are used as a way to combine the knowledge of all employees so that everyone has an opportunity to contribute.
The final major aspect of the TQM approach is the emphasis on satisfying customers. The TQM approach is based on recognizing that an organization exists to serve its customers. If the organization does not provide its customers with what they want, it will not succeed. In addition, the organization must provide quality products and services. In this context, quality does not necessarily refer to a product that is the best on the market. Instead, quality refers to a product or service’s ability to meet the needs of its customers. This means that a reasonably priced Ford vehicle can be considered just as good quality as a higher priced Mercedes Benz. The emphasis is not on how products and services compare to each other, but on how they compare to what the customer wants or needs. If the Ford vehicle gives customers what they want, it can be considered quality. It should also be noted that quality does not just refer to the actual product. Instead, it also includes other aspects associated with the product. This includes service components. Using the car example again, consumers do not just have expectations in regards to the car itself. They might also have expectations in regards to the process of purchasing it and the process of servicing it. To be a quality product, Ford would need to meet these expectations by ensuring that people can source vehicles, by ensuring that sales people have information on the vehicle, and by providing a system that makes serving the car easy and affordable. This focus on all of the aspects that contribute to customer satisfaction also makes involving the entire organization effective. For example, if the organization only focused on quality in manufacturing and ignored marketing and sales considerations, they might not satisfy customers.
Now that quality management has been described, the importance of the approach can be considered. One point that makes TQM especially significant relates to how competitive the business world. In this competitive environment, it is not enough for an organization to be succeeding in the current time. As long as any business is succeeding, there will be many others trying to achieve more. These businesses will look for ways to improve and better themselves so they can win more customers or . This means that organizations cannot afford to remain stagnate. Competition in the business world will result in progress, and for a business not to be left behind, it needs to find ways to improve. Another important point is that there is constant advancement in the business environment. This includes technological changes as computers and information technology improves. This also includes improved processes as new research is carried out and new things are discovered. In addition, people are constantly changing and adapting. This is another reason that an organization cannot remain the same. Organizations need to change to keep up with advancements. The TQM approach based on continually improving helps organizations to progress. In turn, this keeps them and helps to achieve competitiveness. Another important point is that in the quest to do better, the focus is placed on doing more with less. If organizations need to improve costs, they need to do more with less. If organizations need to improve efficiency, they need to find ways to work smarter. A TQM approach assists because it can identify the ways to improve and work smarter. A TQM approach also assists because it means that the organization is making the best use of every employee. By involving all employees, everyone’s skills and knowledge is used. This is a better use of human resources and represents an increase in effectiveness and efficiency.
It is now important to consider how a TQM approach impacts both managers and employees. The first point is that employees need to be more involved in their work. It is not enough for employees to carry out specific tasks as directed by their employees. Instead, employees need to contribute their own thoughts and ideas. Employees will also be more involved in teamwork and will be expected to take on greater responsibilities. Specific responsibilities include predicting or identifying problems and helping to find solutions or preventative measures. The end result is both a greater responsibility and a greater involvement. Employees will also need to be more adaptable and willing to respond to situations and make changes. Employees will need to be responsible for their own actions and for the functioning of their section or department. Finally, it must be noted that employees will not necessarily be able to contribute well to a TQM workplace without adequate information and training. Employees may need specific skills such as communication skills, teamwork skills, and problem solving skills. Since employees play a greater role in the organization, they may also need knowledge that goes beyond the specific task they complete in the organization. For example, an employee in the manufacturing section may need to have some understanding of how their task contributes to the overall process to identify ways to improve. There are also significant changes for managers. The major change is that they must encourage, motivate, and involve employees, rather than organize and control them. The emphasis is on giving employees more independence, while motivating them to want to achieve. Fletcher (35) describes this change by noting how managers need to set objectives and goals for employees, instead of just setting them specific tasks to complete. Managers also play an important role in TQM by assessing and implementing the solutions or improvements suggested by employees.
The main features of TQM have now been described. In addition, it has been seen that a TQM approach to business provides significant benefits to organizations. At the same time though, the approach may require some changes. However, considering that modern organizations need to improve and move forward to stay competitive, the benefits of TQM far outweigh the inconveniences.
Cherkasky, S.M. “Total Quality for a . Quality, 31(1992): 4-8.
Creech, B. The Five Pillars of TQM. New York: , 1994.
Daft, R.L. Management. Fort Worth, TX: The Dryden Press, 1997.
Fletcher, C. “Appraisal: An Idea Whose Time has Gone?” Personnel Management, September 1993: 34-37.