6 Ways To Get Production Teams To Own And Take Pride In Quality

Team accomplishments mean more than individual cash incentives or prizes, and seeing how combined efforts make a difference for customers matters more than individual recognition. In the pursuit of quality, production teams want the opportunity to find purpose, gain autonomy and mastery in their daily work.

Designing a quality management and improvement program on the foundation of autonomy, mastery and purpose has the greatest chance of succeeding.

Dan Pink writes in detail about how these three factors are the foundation of intrinsic motivation to change in his book, Drive, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. He also presented at a TED Conference on this topic, The Puzzle Of Motivation. The talk is approximately 18 minutes long, packed full of insights and worth the time to watch.

Much of the research on how production teams can increase quality correlate with Dan Pink’s research on enabling teams with greater autonomy, mastery and purpose.

In the research study, The Link between Six Sigma and Quality Culture – An Empirical Study written by Davison and Al-Shaghana in the Total Quality Management & Business Excellence Journal, statistical analysis was completed to find the organizational factors that most influence the formation and continued growth of a quality-driven culture.

Key takeaways from the study include the following:

  • Relying on production teams to improve quality shows each team member the company is more committed to the goal than providing individual incentives to team members.
  • The higher quality tools and applications acquired to support the quality management strategy, the greater the perceived organizational commitment to change.
  • Investing in employees’ quality management training and development is a stronger motivator than offering financial incentives.
  • Providing teams with the freedom to be self-directed in how they choose to attain quality management goals create higher morale than if they’re managed to a given metric or key performance indicator (KPI).

6 Ways To Get Production Teams To Own And Take Pride In Quality

The following six ways to get production teams to take ownership of quality and continually improve are based on W. Edwards Deming’s 14 Points For Total Quality Management. Autonomy, mastery and purpose are foundational values of Deming’s 14 points.

Creating constancy of purpose, removing barriers that rob people of pride in the quality of their work, and instituting a vigorous program of education and self-improvement for everyone are just a few examples.

The 6 ways to get production teams to own and take pride in quality are:

1. Provide continual feedback on how the production team’s quality levels are impacting customers.

Nothing infuses purpose into a team faster than the shared decision to improve. Individuals will sacrifice more to a team goal and strive for higher levels of performance with their team mates are counting on them.

That’s why shared awards are so powerful; they reinforce this focus on excelling for the team first. Using customer satisfaction data and insights to give teams feedback on how they are doing and what they need to improve on from the customer’s perspective is one of the most effective ways to get a team to change.

If there aren’t systems in place to provide this feedback to the production team level it’s one of the best investments that can be made in improving quality.

2. Providing production teams with their quality goals for the week, month, and quarter, and relying on them to exceed them.

When production teams are given clear, measurable quality goals and the freedom to achieve them, higher performance is most often achieved (Davison, Al-Shaghana, 2007).

Autonomy is critical for teams to achieve more and look to each other for support, while also realizing each person must excel to help the team. The team-driven obligation to excel is far more powerful than any tightly managed series of metrics or a micromanagement approach.

3. Give each production team the opportunity to present their results in the monthly production team drives high levels of achievement and purpose.

When manufacturers have chosen to do this the production teams begin competing on quality to have the best results to share at the monthly meeting.

The focus and intensity to excel at quality go up and it’s routine to see production team members making sacrifices for each other so they can attain a common goal.

4. Find the budget to invest in an excellent education and training program to provide production teams with the opportunity to master their specific areas.

Excelling at continuing education programs is one of Edward Deming’s 14 points and consistently emerges from studies of high performing production teams as a key success factor.

In their study, Creating And Managing A High-Performance Knowledge-Sharing Network: The Toyota case (Dyer, Nobeoka, 2000) researchers Dr. Jeffrey Dyer and Dr.Kentaro Nobeoka found that the Toyota onboarding process for new suppliers includes so much training it can take over a year to pass all the certifications.

Supplier candidates say that insight gained from the training delivers cost savings to their companies, making the training knowledge more valuable than money  (Dyer, Nobeoka, 2000).

5. Providing a strategic view to production teams of how their hard work and contributions to improving quality improve revenue and cost performance.

Critical to providing opportunities for quality ownership and inclusion in the company-wide quality strategy, each production team needs to have the opportunity to see how their efforts make a difference across the entire company and with customers.

Quarterly production meetings or company-wide meetings are a great venue for showing how each production team is making a cost and revenue contribution by improving quality.

It’s also important to share stories of how exceptional quality from a given production team delighted a customer and led to them attaining their goals.

6. If production teams are isolated, break down barriers and reorganize processes and departments to keep them more involved.

Making them more included in the company’s information news will generate new ideas of how they can collaborate with other departments, further improving quality through better communication.

Across nearly every study on how to create quality-driven teams, open communication across department boundaries emerges as another critical success factor today.

Additional references:

Bell, R. R., & Elkins, S. A. (2004). A Balanced Scorecard for Leaders: Implications of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Criteria. SAM Advanced Management Journal (07497075), 69(1), 12-17.

Clark, D. M., Silvester, K., & Knowles, S. (2013). Lean management systems: creating a culture of continuous quality improvement. Journal Of Clinical Pathology, 66(8), 638-643.

Davison, L., & Al-Shaghana, K. (2007). The Link between Six Sigma and Quality Culture – An Empirical Study. Total Quality Management & Business Excellence, 18(3), 249-265.

Deming, W. E. (2000). Out of the Crisis. MIT Press.

Dyer, J. H., & Nobeoka, K. (2000). Creating and managing a high-performance knowledge-sharing network: the Toyota case. Strategic management journal, 345-367.

Pink, D. H. (2011). Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Penguin.

Srinivasan, A. and Kurey, B., 2014. Creating A Culture of Quality. Harvard Business Review, 92(4), pp.23-25.

Wellins, R. S. (1991). Empowered teams: Creating self-directed work groups that improve quality, productivity, and participation. Jossey-Bass Inc., 350 Sansome Street, San Francisco, CA 94104-1310.

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