Monday, August 31, 2015

How Company Culture Relates to Quality

Today's media highlights shifts in company culture to attract and keep talented workers. Flexible schedules, liberal parental leave, fun activities, free food, community involvement, and environmentally friendly corporate agendas promote a company culture favored by employees. What is company culture and how does it relate to quality?

Culture of an Organization

Company culture is the "character" of a company. Company culture includes:
  • methods of getting things done
  • philosophy of work habits and work behavior
  • goals to make the company successful
  • values and their importance while conducting business
  • working conditions
Some aspects of company culture are intangible. Attitudes, morals, and assumptions held by employees are difficult to determine and quantify, but important in shaping company culture.

Company culture is projected from top management down. Successful company culture is driven by management practices that carry this culture throughout all rungs of the organization. To keep the culture positive and relevant, however, employees should be involved in discussions about changes to and maintaining company culture.

Company Culture Affects People and People Drive Quality

A Culture Supporting Quality

Quality of the product or service and effectiveness of quality systems is improved in:
  •  a culture where employees understand quality and it's effect on company success
  •  a culture where employees can freely make suggestions and report problems
  •  a culture where employees are happy and this happiness is passed on to customer contacts
  •  a culture enhancing creativity which can help quality problem-solving
  •  a culture cultivating teamwork as a powerful tool in quality improvement

The "happiness" aspect of culture is especially powerful in businesses that have direct customer contact. Zappos, an online shoe and clothing business, relates employee happiness to customer satisfaction. In the video below, employees discuss their company culture.

The Culture of Quality has been a popular topic at ASQ over the years. Jennifer Calloway, a quality culture expert, is interviewed in the ASQ TV video below. More ASQ videos on the subject can be found here. (The 46 minute webinar referred to in the video can be found here. )

Company culture is fluid and subject to shift. Management must be vigilant to nurture and protect a positive culture and thereby drive good quality.

ASQ Influential Voice blogger James Lawther has written What Not to Do in Creating a Performance Culture. This article can be found here.

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Credits: Photos courtesy of iStockphoto, Infographic produced by the author using Adobe Illustrator © 2015 All Rights Reserved