Can You Save Personnel With Your QMS?

While working with a client recently, we covered how their QMS could improve corporate profitability and a discussion of employee retention developed.  Can you actually save and retain quality personnel with your QMS?  Quality management systems such as TL 9000 and ISO 9001 are known to be effective in many ways, but have you considered that they may actually help you keep from losing valuable people? While there is no real data to support this contention, companies will provide numerous anecdotal accounts suggesting that this is true.  The difference is how management identifies and handles quality problems.

There are basically two completely opposite methods used by management to deal with quality problems.  One method is to use the “ready, fire, aim” approach.  Management jumps to a quick solution after weak analysis and blames an employee or group of employees.  This is acceptable to employees at large, until they themselves become the targets of the blame game.  Once this culture takes hold it doesn’t take long for employees to duck problem solving to avoid being “called out.”  In the end, many employees will leave a company that has a corporate culture of blame.

The second method is to use quality management techniques to solve quality issues.  For this to work, top management must insist on a culture of no blame, in which process change is the result of deep and effective problem analysis. In this culture, problems are viewed as opportunities to make the overall business better. The focus is on “process failure” rather than “personal” failure and problem analysis and corrective action are conducted in a formal way.  Because we rely on formal problem solving techniques, we seek data and facts to determine the root cause of a problem.  Does this mean that people never cause problems?  No.  However, when it turns out that a problem is the result of direct human failure, it is dealt with as the “exception” versus the rule, with the employee being dealt with in private.  For more information on deploying these and other techniques in your QMS, please contact us at