Quality assurance requires many more moving parts than a team of “checkers.” True quality assurance can be achieved only when everyone in the company feels responsible for ensuring that their work is of the highest possible quality.
A company’s leaders have the important responsibility of ensuring that every member of every department is doing their part to contribute to a quality end product or service. Below, 10 members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share simple but practical ways to make quality assurance part of an organization’s overall, everyday culture.
1. Share a compelling example.
Create a caring culture — a culture in which every member says, “Everything we do at ‘Company X’ is world-class. I am proud of the work I put out, and I am happy to put my name on it. And my name and my reputation are important to me, so, from me, you will get the best.” To do this, show your team what success looks like. Find a company that delivers the values you want, and share that company and why with your team. – David Wescott, Transblue
2. Talk about mistakes.
Encourage a culture of “see something, say something” without making people feel penalized. Praise the person who notices a mistake and is brave enough to say something, and give lots of grace, compassion and support to the person who made the mistake. Own up to your own mistakes too, and be appreciative of whoever noticed. People will notice and feel more confident. – Mary-Cathryn Kolb, brrrº
3. Utilize ‘after-action’ analysis.
The military utilizes “after-action” analysis. This concept reviews and analyzes the “battle plan” and results. This can be a valuable learning tool for an organization. The key is the culture and the understanding that this process will take place. It must be used constructively, not destructively. Buy-in from the team is essential, and personal accountability makes it an effective exercise. – Michael Sikora, Bighorn Wealth Management
4. Always keep the customer in mind.
Everything you are doing should be about the customer. To create a “quality” culture, you need to operate with the customer at the heart of what you do. By placing customer needs at the center of decision making you are showing your employees, customers and the outside world that you care, and more often than not, you won’t just meet customer expectations — you’ll exceed them. – Joanna Swash, Moneypenny
5. Encourage periodic self-evaluations.
Periodic self-evaluations are a great way to maintain high quality-assurance standards on an individual level. When a team member regularly reviews their own performance, it allows space for personal and authentic evaluation, improving personal responsibility. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management
6. Follow a multi-tiered approach.
We have a multi-tiered approach to quality control, including a dedicated team to review all projects, project manager reviews and partner reviews. However, the most important aspect to achieving a high-quality product is instilling ownership and pride in the work in each staff member. – Daniel Wilson, Lacey Thaler Reilly Wilson Architecture & Preservation
7. Include quality reviews in annual employee reviews.
Measuring the quality of an employee’s work as part of their annual review is one way to ensure that they implement a focus on quality. The second way is to develop a simple quality assurance/quality control process that is not cumbersome. The more complicated a QA/QC process is, the more likely steps will be skipped, thus leading to a product that lacks the desired quality. – Jerry Ramos, Ramos Consulting, LLC
8. Have quality targets for every level of the organization.
We believe that quality assurance is everyone’s responsibility. Therefore, it is part of our corporate values and scorecard. Our scorecard targets cascade throughout the organization but are clearly broken down so that each level understands how they contribute to the ultimate goal. – Terry Moody, Alpha Packaging
9. Set up standardized best practices to ensure better results.
Having general business best practices that all employees follow for response time to customers and internal emails is important. Develop principles of customer expectations, loyalty and a positive tone. Ensure the entire company can recite these expectations by heart and live up to them. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising
10. Ensure everyone knows the role they play.
It’s been my experience that the best way to instill a quality-based corporate culture is by involving everyone in the company, no matter their role. Every team member should understand how what they do contributes to producing high-quality products and services and be empowered to contribute quality-related best practices to the organization’s operations. – Daniel Serfaty, Aptima, Inc.