While it is possible for middle managers, alongside a strong workforce, to develop a quality focus, total quality management is the responsibility of top management (Evans, 2013, p. 26). Once the organization and quality matters are figured out by upper management, a blueprint is set for everything to run smoothly. A good example is how the Motorola CEO would leave meetings once quality was taken care of because he knew financial and other issues would take care of themselves (Evans, 2013, p. 26). Even if employees and middle managers can manage for a time without TQM taken care of by top management first, eventually they will fail without strong leadership from the top. There must be stable, quality-focused management at the top for any company to succeed.
TQM may be the responsibility of top management, but their employees (the people) must be at the heart of it. With trust being the main reason for employees to leave an organization (Evans, 2013, p. 28), a company needs their employees to trust them and believe that top management has their needs listed as a top priority to keep employees around and the company successful. Gaining the trust of employees includes being aware of their knowledge, skills, and motivation (Evans, 2013, p. 27). If top management gives their employees chances to show what they can do and utilize their skills, workers are more fulfilled and will perform better. Finding out what motivates a workforce will create positive reinforcement and increase performance. The top is where TQM starts, but the workforce is very important to a quality-focused company.
The goal of TQM should be focusing on the customer. After all, “the customer is the judge of quality” (Evans, 2013, p. 29). If the customer is not happy, the product does not get made or purchased, which means profits go down. This is a bad thing all around. Successful companies must stay close to customers and know their present and future needs; even needs the customer may not know how to express (Evans, 2013, p. 29). Continually finding ways to get customer feedback is important as well (Evans, 2013, p. 29). This is a very necessary tool in keeping up to date with everyday, changing needs. Additionally, top management and the workforce must both know the customer is much more than just a shopper, or the external customer who buys a product (Evans, 2013, p. 29). The customer also includes the internal customer or those who manufacture a product and process orders, and the entire public sector- society (Evans, 2013, p. 29). In short, if the focus is on keeping the customer happy the workforce (the people) are happy and leadership is happy. Customer focus helps TQM to come full circle and keep the public sector functioning as it should.
Evans, J. R. (2013). Quality and performance excellence. Mason, OH: South-Western, Cengage Learning.