I use a very simple linear formula in my mind to measure the quality of products or services of an organization. That simple formula is ‘the quality of products or services offered by an organization’ is linearly related to its ‘People Treatment’ or ‘how the organization treats its people.’ You might be wondering how the treatment of people is related to ensuring product or service quality. The simplicity of the whole idea, however, might surprise you!
Quality is something that cannot be touched; making it highly intangible. Although attempts have been made to measure with numbers and digits, the basic concept of quality is based on human perception. Simply put, it’s purely psychological. If you want to relate such a complex psychological factor to your product, then developing processes or providing a wide range of training for the employees or a lecture once a day won’t cut it. Instead, the concept of quality must be ingrained inside the minds and thought processes of the employees. The comprehensive belief system must be put into the conscious and unconscious minds. If this can be done successfully, only then will the employees become sensitive to quality. KPIs will then automatically harmonize this sensitivity to the work and ensure the quality of the entire operational process.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say, you make food products and are inclined towards producing very high-quality outputs. Subsequently, you initiated various training for the employees to achieve the goal. However, on a seemingly unrelated note, the quality of lunch you provide for the employees is not up to the mark of quality satisfaction. Maybe the hygiene of the food purchased or the cooking facility or the dining facility is compromised. Or maybe, with the allowance provided, it is not possible to eat anywhere else except for cheap unhealthy eateries.
In an environment, when people eat unhealthy, unhygienic food every day, there will be a subconscious indication in their heads that even if they eat food of such quality, there is no harm. A little compromise can be afforded.
But is there really no harm? There is, in my books.
With this prevalent mindset, these very people will compromise little by little when they work for your product. The man who works in the factory will be a little careless in the production process, the quality checks will be minutely sacrificed. The distribution system he works in will get delayed or the product will be handled with a little less care. The sales representative will be a little less sincere. The marketing expert will be a little unmindful in understanding the consumer insights. And maybe the HR personnel will not be putting in a little extra effort in shortlisting the apt employee.
For organizations that believe in the “Peoples First” concept and nurture that concept wholeheartedly in every field of operation, product or service quality automatically becomes their strongest suit. At the end of the day, the perception of quality is comprehensive.
The bottom line is that subconsciously, their mindsets will revolve around the understanding that, “It’s not that much. A little compromise can be made. There is no harm in it.” And all of these would start with the sub quality standard food you provided them.
Now think about where your product or service value will stoop to when people in each function allow a little concession? A little less quality of raw materials will be purchased, production will be as desired, distribution will be inefficient, efficiency in sales will fall, communications will not be sharp and there will be a slight gap in calculations. Even if you hire hundreds of people, they will either be dissatisfied or leave the organization without being able to adapt.
All of this might sound a little far-fetched, but it may all trickle down to the fact that you have not added ample attention to the quality of the food provided to the employees. You have set an example of compromised quality to save additional effort. That very example can be reciprocated in the employees’ efforts. If you have set up a positive example, the employee may follow suit. It’s not necessarily just about food, I’m talking about every aspect of employee treatment. So, even if you have 100 training and processes, they will be of no use unless and until the essence of quality is etched in the minds of the employees through active examples. That example can come from everything or anything of how you are treating people – whether with quality or compromise. They will do exactly what you will set as an example for them.
During this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, I especially noticed another issue. During this difficult period, how much did organizations take care of their employees? I comprehend the fact that there were operational and financial issues. But whatever the situation is, if an organization does not hold on to its employees, people who are working hard day in day out for your organization, people who are well-known by the management team, during tough times, then it is delusional to expect the organization or the employees to care about their consumers at all or to produce quality products or services for the consumers out there.
To my study and observation, I have already found that the best and the most renowned organizations in the world emphasize heavily on “people treatment”. They cater to a well-thought-of wage structure for their employees, respect their wellbeing, and consider the smallest of their disadvantages. In each case, they maintain a high-quality image that gets instilled into their employees, who in turn reciprocates responsibility by assuring high-quality products or service deliveries.
For organizations that believe in the “Peoples First” concept and nurture that concept wholeheartedly in every field of operation, product or service quality automatically becomes their strongest suit. At the end of the day, the perception of quality is comprehensive. Your products will either be of quality or not. There simply is no middle ground.
Hence, I shall repeat: to measure the quality of products or services of an organization, look into how they are treating their people.