TQM and Quality Circle, Culture Change

Basic Principles of TQM

In TQM, the processes and initiatives that produce products or services are thoroughly managed. By this way of managing, process variations are minimized, so the end product or the service will have a predictable quality level.

Following are the key principles used in TQM:

  • Top management –The upper management is the driving force behind TQM. The upper management bears the responsibility of creating an environment to rollout TQM concepts and practices.
  • Training needs –When a TQM rollout is due, all the employees of the company need to go through a proper cycle of training. Once the TQM implementation starts, the employees should go through regular trainings and certification process.
  • Customer orientation –The quality improvements should ultimately target improving the customer satisfaction. For this, the company can conduct surveys and feedback forums for gathering customer satisfaction and feedback information.
  • Involvement of employees –Pro-activeness of employees is the main contribution from the staff. The TQM environment should make sure that the employees who are proactive are rewarded appropriately.
  • Techniques and tools –Use of techniques and tools suitable for the company is one of the main factors of TQM.
  • Corporate culture –The corporate culture should be such that it facilitates the employees with the tools and techniques where the employees can work towards achieving higher quality.
  • Continues improvements –TQM implementation is not a one time exercise. As long as the company practices TQM, the TQM process should be improved continuously.

The Cost

Some companies are under the impression that the cost of TQM is higher than the benefits it offers. This might be true for the companies in small scale, trying to do everything that comes under TQM.

According to a number of industrial researches, the total cost of poor quality for a company always exceeds the cost of implementing TQM.

In addition, there is a hidden cost for the companies with poor quality products such as handling customer complaints, re-shipping, and the overall brand name damage.

Quality Circle

A quality circle is a volunteer group composed of workers , usually under the leadership of their supervisor , who are trained to identify, analyze and solve work-related problems and present their solutions to management in order to improve the performance of the organization, and motivate and enrich the work of employees. When matured, true quality circles become self-managing, having gained the confidence of management.

Participative management technique within the framework of a company wide quality system in which small teams of (usually 6 to 12) employees voluntarily form to define and solve a quality or performance related problem. In Japan (where this practice originated) quality circles are an integral part of enterprise management and are called quality control circles.

A Quality Circle is volunteer group composed of members who meet to talk about workplace and service improvements and make presentations to their management with their ideas.” (Prasad, L.M, 1998). 

Quality circles enable the enrichment of the lives of the workers or students and creates harmony and high performance. Typical topics are improving occupational safety and health, improving product design, and improvement in the workplace and manufacturing processes.

Objectives of Quality Circle

The perception of Quality Circles today is ‘Appropriateness for use1 and the tactic implemented is to avert imperfections in services rather than verification and elimination. Hence the attitudes of employees influence the quality. It encourages employee participation as well as promotes teamwork. Thus it motivates people to contribute towards organizational effectiveness through group processes. The following could be grouped as broad intentions of a Quality Circle:

  1. To contribute towards the improvement and development of the organization or a department.
  2. To overcome the barriers that may exist within the prevailing organizational structure so as to foster an open exchange of ideas.
  3. To develop a positive attitude and feel a sense of involvement in the decision making processes of the services offered.
  4. To respect humanity and to build a happy work place worthwhile to work.
  5. To display human capabilities totally and in a long run to draw out the infinite possibilities.
  6. To improve the quality of products and services.
  7. To improve competence, which is one of the goals of all organizations.
  8. To reduce cost and redundant efforts in the long run.
  9. With improved efficiency, the lead time on convene of information and its subassemblies is reduced, resulting in an improvement in meeting customers due dates.
  10. Customer satisfaction is the fundamental goal of any library. It will ultimately be achieved by Quality Circle and will also help to be competitive for a long time.


There are no monetary rewards in the QC’s. However, there are many other gains, which largely benefit the individual and consecutively, benefit the business. These are: 

  • Self-development: QC’s assist self-development of members by improving self-confidence, attitudinal change, and a sense of accomplishment.
  • Social development: QC is a consultative and participative programme where every member cooperates with others. This interaction assists in developing harmony.
  • Opportunity to attain knowledge:QC members have a chance for attaining new knowledge by sharing opinions, thoughts, and experience.
  • Potential Leader: Every member gets a chance to build up his leadership potential, in view of the fact that any member can become a leader.
  • Enhanced communication skills:The mutual problem solving and presentation before the management assists the members to develop their communication skills.
  • Job-satisfaction: QC’s promote creativity by tapping the undeveloped intellectual skills of the individual. Individuals in addition execute activities diverse from regular work, which enhances their self-confidence and gives them huge job satisfaction.
  • Healthy work environment: QC’s creates a tension-free atmosphere, which each individual likes, understands, and co-operates with others.
  • Organizational benefits: The individual benefits create a synergistic effect, leading to cost effectiveness, reduction in waste, better quality, and higher productivity.

Culture Change

A common set up where individuals from different back grounds, educational qualifications, interests and perception come together and use their skills to earn revenue is called an organization. The successful functioning of an organization depends on the effort put by each employee. Each individual has to contribute his level best to accomplish the tasks within the desired time frame.

Every organization has a unique style of working which is often called its culture. The beliefs, policies, principles, ideologies of an organization form its culture.

The culture of the organization is nothing but the outcome of the interaction among the employees working for quite some time. The behaviour of the individual with his fellow workers as well as external parties forms the culture. The management style of dealing with the employees in its own way also contributes to the culture of the organization.

Employees working for a considerable amount of time in any particular organization tend to make certain rules and follow some policies as per their convenience and mutual understanding. Such policies and procedures practised by the employees for a long time to make the workplace a happier place form the culture. The culture often gives the employees a sense of direction at the workplace.

Organization culture however can never be constant. It changes with time.

Let us understand the concept with the help of an example.

Organization A was a well-known event management firm. Tom, Sandra, Peter and Jack represented the management. All the four were in their mid-thirties and thus emphasized on hiring young talent. No wonders this organization followed a youth culture. The employees were aggressive, on their toes and eager to do something innovative always. The organization followed a macho culture where the employees performing exceptionally well were appreciated and rewarded suitably. Appraisals and promotions came in no time and feedbacks were quick. The management also encouraged in formal get-togethers, dinners to bring the employees closer and increase the comfort level.

After proving their mettle for quite some years, Tom, Sandra and Peter decided to move on for better opportunities. Tim, Maria, Sara all in their fifties stepped into their shoes and took the charge along with Jack, the only member left from the previous team. They did not somehow approve the previous style of working. They brought their own people from their previous organizations and thus caused problems for the existing employees. The management strongly supported punctuality and did not quite promote parties; get-togethers at workplace. There were no feedbacks or rewards. The employees lacked enthusiasm and never bothered to do something innovative.

Is there any change in the work culture ?

A change in the management changed the entire style of working.

Reasons for changes in work culture

  • A new management, a new team leader, a new boss brings a change in the organization culture. A new employee but obvious would have new ideas, concepts and try his level best to implement them. He would want the employees to work according to him. His style of working, behaviour and ideologies would definitely bring a change in the work culture.
  • Financial loss, bankruptcy, market fluctuations also lead to change in the work culture of the organization. When an organization runs into losses, it fails to give rewards and appraisals to the employees as it used to give earlier.
  • Acquiring new clients might cause a change in the work culture. The employees might have to bring about a change in their style of working to meet the expectations of the new clients.
  • The employees on their own might realize that they need to bring a change in their attitude, perception and style of working to achieve the targets at a much faster rate. Such self-realization also changes the work culture.

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