Characteristics of a Strong Quality Culture

Quality Culture

Your organization’s success depends on your commitment to cultivating a strong quality culture. Without continuous improvement processes and an established quality culture, challenges can mount quickly, so how do you troubleshoot quality culture? Remember these key characteristics of a strong quality culture as you plan your company’s next quality makeover.

Strong Quality Culture is Subjective but not a Mystery

Manufacturing quality itself is difficult to quantify, and each company has its own quality processes. Your company may already struggle to capture quality metrics in real time. Adding culture to the equation only complicates matters by bringing in subjective, qualitative characteristics, which data cannot define. Defining a subjective concept like culture makes quality management even more challenging if you do not have a good starting point. A Harvard Business Review study shows how subjective quality culture really is when compared to data-driven, quantifiable metrics like new-product introductions.

Generally, quality culture is “an environment in which employees not only follow quality guidelines but also consistently see others taking quality-focused actions, hear others talking about quality, and feel quality all around them,” HBR’s survey said.

In other words, quality culture is about living quality every day in every action, not just compartmentalizing quality as someone else’s department or someone else’s problem. Do not make the mistake of diminishing the affects of qualitative, subjective influences on manufacturing quality overall. HBR’s insights are again key from this perspective. “Many of the traditional strategies used to increase quality – monetary incentives, training, and sharing of best practices, for instance – have little effect,” HBR’s survey said. What does have a measurable influence is cultivating a middle-out quality culture where employees take initiative and consider how everything they do can affect quality.

Measuring Quality Culture

Yes, your company can, in fact, measure its culture by listening to employees and genuinely acknowledging their contributions to quality. Research by Forbes Insights shows why employee engagement is so important to measuring quality culture. Forbes’s study found that “only 60 percent (of manufacturing employees surveyed) say their management supports the quality vision and values unequivocally.”

Similarly, Forbes found that less than half of employees say that management leads by example. Furthermore, only 61 percent of manufacturing employees say that their company has a well-defined quality culture. The question is, how can your company even begin to strengthen quality culture when there is a 50-50 chance that your company does not even define quality at all?

As a seasoned quality professional, you live and breathe quality, but your colleagues may not share your enthusiasm. To strengthen quality culture, your task is to cultivate an environment where quality is a way of life. Certain metrics show a high degree of correlation between quality culture and quality outcomes, such as supplier defect rate and defective parts per million opportunities.

Can Quality Management Software Strengthen Quality Culture?

Do not think that you can simply take a tough-guy approach to enforcing quality processes. When trying to strengthen quality culture, you will find better results if you think of yourself more like a quality coach, not the quality police.

Interestingly, according to Forbes’s survey, you may have the most push-back from middle management, so this is where enterprise quality management software shines. With QMS, you get the benefits of accountability, responsibility and cross-functional team work in one solution. User-friendly QMS has been designed to eliminate silos of information, redundant job duties and wasted time. If your company is new to enterprise quality management software, you may have to look for easy wins to show that it’s the right tool to strengthen quality culture. Subjectivity is an inseparable characteristic of quality culture, but you do not have to worry about how to quantify the impacts it can have on your company’s quality. You can measure how well your quality initiatives are working by examining metrics that correlate strongly to your workplace environment and how leadership affects your company’s bottom line.