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How to stimulate ownership of quality

05/12/2019 | | Quality

Continuous improvement is key to create market advantage and stay ahead of your competitors. The question is, how do you create a quality mindset among your coworkers and how do you motivate them to continuously improve themselves and the products or services they’re working on? In order to do so, you need to create ownership of quality. Read more on how to stimulate employees to take ownership of quality.

The consequences of the absence of quality ownership 

What a lot of people forget when trying to stimulate ownership of quality amongst employees, is that you have to actively involve your coworkers during your quality improvement process. 

An example: 

In my previous job as a Quality Manager in a factory, a colleague noticed a big issue in one of the production lines: “Bart, I have a problem.  We notice our operators won’t even consume the products of their own production line. At the same time, we see an increase in customer complaints and a decrease in the product quality.”

Clearly, there was a lack of ownership of quality. People were just doing a job without realising the impact of their job on the food quality and safety. 

Ask the expert

To stimulate the quality ownership amongst the operators, my solution was simple: “Ask the expert.” Because, by asking the operators why they won’t eat their own products, you will get a direct answer. They are the expert. They work on that product line day in, day out and therefore have the actual knowledge and experience to know what’s going wrong and … probably know how to solve the problem as well. 

The operators probably know exactly which part of the process is causing the problem. The reason why you haven’t heard about this problem before? The answer is simple: because no one asked them before! 

Your coworkers as a critical part of the solution

After assessing the problem with a small team, we went back to the operator: “Since you had a very good idea on how to improve the quality and food safety on your production line, we now know how to improve the production process. That’s why we decided that you can be part of the solution: here’s your project. It’s yours, you are now the owner of this improvement project and we will give you all of the support and resources that you need. “

Expect push-back if you present it to your employees this way. That’s why it’s very important to focus on a good approach when trying to stimulate ownership of quality. Otherwise, the answer you get will be “this is not my responsibility ...”. 

Make sure to guide your employees and make them feel appreciated and important. By giving back to your employees, they are willing to improve their process and other employees are going to be more willing to help improve your company as well. 

And that’s how we create and start infecting people with ownership of quality and stimulate a quality mindset