Quality is ingrained, rewarded by top manufacturers

ASQ study finds training, financial incentives help boost quality improvements


Organizations with a centralized quality department are more likely to provide training to necessary staff, and manufacturing companies provide more quality training than services organizations, according to ASQ’s Global State of Quality Research.

The ASQ Global State of Quality Research: Discoveries 2013 report shows that 76% of staff directly involved in quality receive training when an organization has a centralized quality department. In organizations where senior executive leadership oversee quality, 56% of staff involved in quality receive training.

In manufacturing, 51% of staff directly involved in quality receive training, while 48% in services industries provide training to quality personnel.

The Global State of Quality Research is the only research that creates a baseline of fundamental quality and continuous improvement practices around the world. The Global State of Quality Research: Discoveries 2013 report provides a high-level overview of results from 1,991 respondents in 22 countries. To conduct the research, ASQ partnered with APQC, an industry leader in quality and continuous improvement benchmarking research.

The ASQ Global State of Quality Research: Discoveries 2013 is the first of three reports that will be released this year, followed in July by Analysis, Trends, and Opportunities, based on the worldwide survey data. Insights, Case Study Reports, and Continuing Conversations will be released in November to coincide with World Quality Month.

Training expands externally

According to the Discoveries 2013 report, 98% of manufacturing organizations, and 94% of services organizations provides some training to staff working directly in quality in areas like Six Sigma, lean, auditing, ISO and quality management.

And the training isn’t only for internal employees. Results show that 46% of manufacturers train tier one suppliers in the organization’s quality management system, while 21% of services organizations train tier one suppliers.

Bharat Wakhlu, resident director of Tata Services Limited, said training is, and will continue to be, determined by organizational competencies needed to drive customer satisfaction. Training and good customer service are “not disconnected,” he said.

“(Training is) to be seen as a continuum in the organization in order to create a high-performance company,” Wakhlu said. “It’s all integrated.”

Incentives and culture

While training provides the skills to help organizations thrive, incentives can help motivate employees to meet critical quality targets.

According to the Discoveries 2013 report, 88% of companies offer incentives to employees who meet critical quality targets. Organizations use financial awards, nonfinancial awards, informal manager recognition, honorary awards, variable compensation or a combination of incentives to recognize employees.

Informal manager recognition is used by 55% of respondents to acknowledge employees who meet quality-related goals, and 30% of respondents use financial incentives to acknowledge quality personnel. Another 24% of companies use nonfinancial awards, according to the research.

Not surprising, 45% of organizations with annual revenues of more than $10 billion — the largest of the revenue groups surveyed — offer financial incentives to employees. In contrast, 22% of organizations of less than $100 million in annual revenues use financial incentives, according to the results.

Wakhlu said that while financial awards are great incentives, a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment are the ultimate motivators.

“People are really being driven by a sense of accomplishment,” Wakhlu said. “If they do good things and are creating value for people, there is a great deal of intrinsic motivation. That is a very big driver for creating the kind of culture that is sustainable over the long term and a wholesome (culture of quality).”

Defining quality

The quality culture at an organization depends on its definition of quality. When asked in the survey to define quality, respondents offered varied responses. In a similar question, 37% of respondents say quality is mainly a continuous improvement activity, 24% says it’s a method to manage organization-wide performance and 22% says it’s a compliance activity.

Roberto Saco, CEO of Aporia Advisors, said quality — and its definition — continues to evolve.

“Every generation has to redefine quality and what it means,” said Saco, who also is on the advisory panel for the Global State of Quality Research. “Every few years we expand the concept of quality. It keeps evolving. That’s why it’s so hard to define quality.”

For more information or to download the free Discoveries 2013 report, visit globalstateofquality.org.

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