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Total quality management (TQM) is a management philosophy that seeks to guide the operation of the entire organization. It typically requires every person in the organization to be focused on the customer and the service or product that the customer receives. Therefore, total quality management is typically integrated into all elements of the company and requires complete support from management and staff to be successful.
The basic principles of TQM require all members of the organization to be focused on improving quality. Improving quality usually results in changing how employees are trained and how they produce their products or provide their services. For any change to be effective, it usually requires the total support of workers, which can result in improving the organizational culture. The organizational culture consists of the attitude and beliefs of the workers throughout the company.
While many managers may believe that their organizational culture is positive, negative subcultures may prevent positive outcomes from occurring. Negative thinking is often the result of fear. Therefore, organizational leaders typically need to address the issues that impact these subcultures and motivate workers to embrace new management practices. This usually means eliminating fears that may exist within the workforce. Once workers are willing to support the organization fully, then total quality management practices can be implemented and customer satisfaction improved.
Mission and vision of an organization typically guide the operation of the business in TQM. The operation is a process that is created based on data collection that requires consistent monitoring in order to identify problems and continually make changes. Typically, changes can only be made when the facts support them and those changes must work to support the strategic operating plan of the company. The operating plan usually needs to be aligned with customer need.
In total quality management, employees become part of teams that are tasked with completing a mission. Each team member is empowered in the organization because the team’s action has the ability to result in the success or failure of the entire company. Teams typically require strong leaders that effectively communicate with fellow workers so that all employees understand the process of which they are a part. Leaders usually train, inspire pride in employees, and build confidence among workers so that they can assist in the success of the company and provide better customer services.
TQM also requires a fast response time in relation to consumer need. Managers not only concentrate on how their company operates, but also on the qualities of other companies in the industry that result in superiority. One of these qualities is often the ability of the company to immediately address a customer’s concerns and produce a product when it is needed without an extensive wait time. When customers are required to wait for a product or service, they will often turn to a competing business for faster results. Consequently, total quality management calls on workers, managers, and leaders to develop operational methods regarding response time that focuses on customer satisfaction.