The question arises as to whether or not total quality management (TQM) has any relevance in human resource management. Indeed many are still trying to determine what role HR can play in quality management.
But before that, what is TQM?
TQM is understood as a management philosophy on the continuous improvement of the quality of products and processes.
BS 7850-1, defines TQM "as management philosophy and company practices that aim to harness the human and material resources of an organization in the most effective way to achieve the objectives of the organization."
There are nine common TQM practices identified by Cua, McKone, and Schroeder (2001), namely,
1. cross-functional product design
2. process management
3. supplier quality management
4. customer involvement
5. information and feedback
6. committed leadership
7. strategic planning
8. cross-functional training
9. employee involvement
HR is clearly involved in improving leaders commitment, training and employee involvement. But as a business partner, HR plays a role in every area of organizational activities.
HR is expected to get acquainted with the business of the organization. This is clearly demonstrated in organizations that provide services to customers. The focus is on customer needs.
HR is expected to facilitate the ivolvement of every level of employees in the continuous improvement of processes in order to serve customers better. Better processes should result in quality products and services. And this is expected to attract new customers and to retain current ones.
Successful implementation of TQM
Nayantara Padhi (2010) states that successful implementation of Total Quality Management requires an organization to concentrate on the eight key elements, namely
1. Ethics which concerns what are right or wrong in doing things
2. Integrity implying honesty, morals, values, fairness
3. Trust that builds the cooperative environment essential for TQM
4. Training to improve employee productivity
5. Teamwork for quicker and better decision making. He mentions three types of teams:quality improvement teams, problem solving teams and natural work teams
6. Leadership presumably the most important element
7. Communication that provides the vital link between all elements
8. Recognition in order to strengthen employee self-esteem
To Nayantara "Total quality is a description of the culture, attitude and organization of a company that strives to provide customers with products and services that satisfy their needs."
It is said that the limitation of Total Quality Management is connected to its neglect of HR policies and the failure to align HR policies to TQM. If HR is alienated from quality, this "could seriously retard the spread of quality through the firm. (Cruise O’Brien and Voss, 1992) They argued that quality depends on "employee involvement and commitment."
However, the limitation of Total Quality Management in HR matters offers opportunities for HR specialists to demonstrate what they can contribute.
Giles and Williams (1991) "rightly point out Personnel people have much to offer quality management.
They are guardians of key processes such as selection, appraisal, training and reward systems, which get right to the heart of achieving strategic change."
HR potential contribution to TQM, now and in future
Whether you are in HR or not, it is important to realise the role that HR can play in helping to make total quality management a success story in the organization.
Reflect on what Adrian Wilkinson, Mick Marchington & Barrie Dale had stated: "The key question must be how the function can continually improve its contribution to quality management initiatives and organisational success."
HR can offer crucial help in the contiunuous improvement in organizations.
Click HERE to read more about TQM (Thesis by Adediran Oluwatoyin & Adediran Oluseun)