Management Article

Mike Roberts’s picture

By: Mike Roberts

Editor’s note: A webinar on this topic will held on Nov. 19, 2013, at 11 a.m. Pacific, 2 p.m. Eastern. Register here.

And previewing the webinar, Matthew Littlefield will be a guest on Quality Digest Live this Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, at 11 a.m. Pacific, 2 p.m. Eastern.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock that doesn't get Wi-Fi for the past two decades, you know that social media has significantly affected both consumer behavior and the way businesses interact with consumers. But what does that mean for quality management?

In contrast to several decades ago, today’s microblogging capabilities and short-form content provide everyone who has an opinion and access to an Internet connection with the option to publicly communicate his thoughts at the click of a button. Impressively, across social media channels, the number of such instances has grown exponentially, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

Gallup’s picture

By: Gallup

In the intense competition to attract and retain top talent, U.S. employers are vying to offer the most alluring perks imaginable to their workers. Companies such as Google are leading the trend, hoping that happy employees are more productive, creative, and passionate workers.

On the surface, it’s hard to argue with this approach: A free lunch, a siesta in the nap room, or a massage at work would probably make anybody happier. But happy doesn’t necessarily equal productive, or even loyal.

Gallup recently studied the relationship between workplace policies and employees’ engagement and well-being and found that indulging employees is no substitute for engaging them.

Gallup’s picture

By: Gallup

Many companies measure employee and customer satisfaction without much to show for it. That’s because their surveys—whether one magic question for customers or 100-plus-item monstrosities for employees—often focus on the rational and exclude the emotional. However, it’s vital to measure emotional factors because with customers and employees, feelings are facts.

You can significantly boost your company's performance by measuring, managing, and focusing on your customers’ and employees’ emotional engagement, Gallup’s research shows. We call it the “engagement premium” because that boost in performance is extremely lucrative.

Engagement premium = higher business performance

Recently, a large Asia-Pacific financial services company asked Gallup to survey its employees and customers in 80 of its retail banking branches, using Gallup’s HumanSigma framework. This approach works by measuring the rational and emotional drivers, needs, and perceptions of employees and customers, enabling managers and staff to apply learnings and insights from this measurement to maximize performance.

Knowledge at Wharton’s picture

By: Knowledge at Wharton

If loyalty is defined as being faithful to a cause, ideal, custom, institution or product, then there seems to be a certain amount of infidelity in the workplace these days.

Consider some recent studies: MetLife’s 10th annual survey of employee benefits, trends and attitudes released in March 2012 puts employee loyalty at a seven-year low. One in three employees, the survey says, plans to leave his job by the end of the year. According to a 2011 Careerbuilder.com report, 76 percent of full-time workers, while not actively looking for a new job, would leave their current workplace if the right opportunity came along. Other studies show that each year, the average company loses anywhere from 20 percent to 50 percent of its employee base.

James Brewton’s picture

By: James Brewton

Lean Six Sigma has proven itself as an effective strategy for business success in both private and public sectors. The methodology has helped enterprise leaders recognize business processes as engines that drive performance excellence and help to deliver value. Lean Six Sigma offers a comprehensible road map, tools, and techniques for achieving superior performance.

Many organizations that were considering lean Six Sigma or actually engaged in pilot initiatives at the outset of the recent economic decline are now embracing the methodology as a way to achieve long-term improvement and sustain customer loyalty as they weather slowdowns and uncertain forecasts.

Companies that successfully plan for and deploy lean Six Sigma will achieve improvements in both their top and bottom lines; however, significant long-term benefits to organizations’ employees, and customers might be unrealized unless these companies recognize and close a critical gap in today’s conventional lean Six Sigma approaches.

The recent quality improvement evolution

The modern era of quality and process improvement movement that started during the 1980s has been continually evolving, enhancing the value of this important business management discipline (figure 1).

By: Todd Patkin

In a perfect world, we’d all be looking forward to the holiday season without anxiety. Unfortunately, for most employees, that isn’t even close to being the case. Times have been tough, and for several years, workers have been stretched thin as they try to do more with less. As an employer, you might want to reward your people for their hard work with a raise or holiday bonus—if only you had the funds. Although you can’t distribute money you don’t have, you can make your employees feel happier and more appreciated.

People will never admit it, but money is not the thing they desire most from their work. Instead, showing appreciation, respect, and, yes, even love are the three most important ways to make your people feel great about their work. Starting this Thanksgiving, if you really begin to live out the holiday’s spirit, you’ll also find that happy, engaged employees are the single best way to improve your company’s bottom line.

I speak from experience here. For nearly two decades, I was instrumental in leading my family’s business, Autopart International, until it was bought in 2005. During that time, I made it my No. 1 priority to always put my employees and their happiness first.

Jay Arthur—The KnowWare Man’s picture

By: Jay Arthur—The KnowWare Man

At a recent health-care conference I had a conversation with Mary, a Six Sigma Black Belt for a 700-bed hospital. She told me that the hospital had only a few copies of Minitab software, which was shared by several people. She was always being asked to close out of the program so that someone else could use it.

Recently I spoke with a several Six Sigma Green Belts who work for a large defense contractor. They told me they had no registered software at their disposal, that only the Black Belts were provided with software.

A professor who teaches Six Sigma has his students draw a Pareto chart by hand, and he times them; the best and worst times range from 45 to 75 minutes. Then he shows his students how to draw a Pareto chart in seconds using Excel-based software.

I’m going to argue that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to succeed at Six Sigma without software.

Consider the surprisingly high cost of lean Six Sigma:
• Up to $250,000 to train a Six Sigma Black Belt
• Up to $60,000 to train a Six Sigma Green Belt

Norman Bodek’s default image

By: Norman Bodek

I have long admired and respected Toyota. I have been to its factories, published and written books and articles about its revolutionary production system, known many of its brilliant people, and taught its methods to thousands of students. Like many of Toyota's admirers, I was shocked and saddened by the company's disastrous unintended acceleration problems and their tragic results. My students and friends have continued to ask me, "How could Toyota have let this happen?" Where did the world's quality leader go wrong and how can Toyota and you ensure that problems like this will not manifest into millions of recalls and billions of dollars of losses?

After studying the recent problems at Toyota, I have reached this conclusion: Had the tools of the Toyota Production System been extended from the factory floor worker to every employee who makes contact with the customer, Toyota could have dramatically reduced the resulting financial impact and human tragedy. This article is the first in a series to address this idea in some detail.

Marvin Marshall’s picture

By: Marvin Marshall

Leadership would be easy if it weren’t for those we lead. As any leader or manager knows, getting people to actually want to do the tasks you need them to do can be a challenge. People will not fully commit to a task unless they’re motivated to desire your goals and objectives or the reason behind the task.

Unfortunately, many managers and leaders rely on external motivators to get people to do things. For example, using rewards as enticements, or threats of punishment, are approaches aimed at obtaining obedience and compliance. They overpower, rather than empower. Telling people what to do and then rewarding them if they do as expected, or threatening them if they do not, increases stress while diminishing professional relationships.

Because these management approaches are manipulative, the results are never as effective as cultivating internal motivation. Manipulative approaches are something you do to other people and they have little long-lasting effects. This is in contrast to working with people to empower them.

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