To cultivate a quality culture in your organization, you must first be clear about what “quality” means to you.
Quality can be meeting industry regulations – indeed, you should definitely be meeting all the legal requirements for your business – but this is the absolute bare minimum. It’s not likely to make your organization stand out from the crowd.
True quality culture in your company is when everyone genuinely cares about producing the best results possible. This means everyone from management to new hires to customers understands that your company strives for excellence in every aspect of the business model.
So how can you develop a quality culture in your company? Read on for six top tips.
1. Place value on quality
Management needs to value quality and make that evident to staff through actions, not just words. It’s all very well to have a policy, or posters, or motivational quotes saying that your company values quality, but all these measures are fruitless if the lived experience of your employees contradicts those messages.
For example, company policy might state that quality is more important than speed when working on projects. But if management punishes staff who spend longer on projects by asking them to work unpaid overtime, then the message the company is really sending is that workers should prioritize speed over quality. This results in staff who are focused on finishing a project rather than on producing the best possible project.
A similar problem arises when management starts to focus more on cutting costs than on the quality of the work produced. For example, if management introduces incentives for staff to find more cost-effective ways of working, then the focus shifts from “high quality” to “low cost”. The company is placing a higher value on cost-cutting rather than producing high-quality work.
Your organization needs to show that you value quality, not just through words but through actions. These actions need to be consistent at all levels of the company so that prioritizing quality becomes a core company value.
2. Actively seek a quality culture
Make sure your commitment to the quality culture in your organization is quantifiable: are there specific examples you (and your staff) can point to in order to demonstrate how you value quality?
These examples might be the policies you enact or the posters on display, but they should also be a tangible part of your processes. You might decide to check each product by hand before it is packaged or you might install a cheap VoIP service, so that you can prioritize 24/7 customer service for customers around the world.
2. Develop a sense of pride
Develop a sense of pride not only within your workforce but also within your customer base. This is particularly important if you are marketing towards younger generations. Research shows that members of the Gen Z demographic tends to shop based on their values. If you can develop a quality culture within your workplace, this will translate to your marketing and social media presence.
A company that truly values quality at every stage of the process will appeal to young people who take pride in value-based buying. This means that if you want to appeal to Gen Z shoppers, you should aim to make them proud to be consumers of your brand.
However, be careful not to take pride too far – you will also need humility and a willingness to respond to feedback. This is particularly important in the application industry – companies who build mobile apps have, on occasion, been known to tend towards hubris. Remember, perfection takes time, talent, and a lot of patience.
3. Seek feedback at every stage
Seek feedback from your customer base as well as from your staff.
As part of this move, be willing to discard those elements of your processes that don’t value quality. If you’re receiving negative feedback – from staff or customers – on certain features, be willing to adapt. Smoke test regularly to help you to gain feedback at every stage of the development process.
If you find yourself wanting to bring staff back into the office simply because that’s how your organization has always worked, you might want to consider if that is truly the path to best quality work. If your staff can work more efficiently at home, then cultivating a quality culture might mean supporting this move, as well as emphasizing the mentality that results are more important than physically occupying the same space.
5. Encourage continual training and development
It’s easy to offer initial training and then assume that because staff members hold certificates that they’re automatically upholding those standards for the rest of their time with the organization. Additionally, it’s easy for staff to attend a course, complete the required assessment, and then return to their old habits as soon as they return to the workplace.
Training reinforces the standards that employees should be upholding, so you need to ensure that the training courses are also up to that high standard. Make sure the courses include the latest information, recognizing that regulations may change over time or as your company develops.
6. Prioritize consistency
A company culture that prioritizes consistent quality is one of the hallmarks of modern businesses. Consistency helps staff understand what is expected of them, and what they can expect from you. An organization with clear expectations is likely to have a more positive and productive work environment.
Allowing one instance of lower quality products being produced encourages the production of more low-quality products. Ensure that your staff have the resources and incentive to prioritize quality at all times, not just when upper management comes to visit.
Successful organizations make quality culture a habit
Strive for quality in every part of the workday so that it becomes ingrained in the culture of the organization. Actively seeking quality and encouraging pride in both staff and customers allows them to seek quality through actions rather than just through words.
Training staff for quality culture should not be a chore, or seen as simply a means of ticking a box to fulfil regulation guidelines. Rather, quality training should be a regular part of company culture to remind staff of processes they’re already familiar with and develop skills they’re already using.
Kate Priestman is the Head of Marketing at Global App Testing, a trusted and leading end-to-end functional testing and ad hoc testing solution for QA challenges. Kate has over 8 years of experience in the field of marketing, helping brands achieve exceptional growth. She has extensive knowledge on brand development, lead and demand generation, and marketing strategy — driving business impact at its best. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.