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http://imedia.vuse.vanderbilt.edu/mt322/library.htm#Module 2

 The People Side of Quality

The objective for this module is to understand how people and intrinsic motivation fit into the big picture of quality improvement.

Discussion:

This module requires that you review the case study consisting of the scenarios from Module 1 and Module 2.  In Module 1 your focus was on the customers who seemed rather abused by the system.   In Module 2 you should have begun to pick up some cues from the employees.   It's very easy to say we should get rid of all the employees and start over.  But what we often forget is that good people trying to work in poor systems will quickly get discouraged and leave or burn out.  "Intrinsic motivation is something that we are born with," said Dr. Deming in his seminars, but we begin to crush that motivation as soon as we put children in competitive situations where someone will win and someone will lose.  Grades in school, gold stars for being better, are all meant to motivate, yet for many, it is the greatest demotivator.  We have created systems in the workplace that serve to crush the spirit of the worker.  Read the following two quotes:

"Hardly a competent workman can be found who does not devote a considerable amount of time to studying just how slowly he can work and still convince his employer that he is going at a good pace.  Under our system, a worker is told just what he is to do and how he is to do it.  Any improvement he makes upon the orders given to him is fatal to his success."

Frederick Taylor, 1929


"... the reasons for your failure are within yourselves.   Your firms are built on the Taylor model.  Even worse, so are your heads.   With your bosses doing the thinking while the workers wield the screwdrivers, you're convinced deep down that this is the right way to run a business.  For you the essence of management is getting the ideas out of the heads of the bosses and into the hands of labor.

Business, we know, is now so complex and difficult, the survival of firms so hazardous in an environment increasingly unpredictable, competitive and fraught with danger, that their continued existence depends on the day-to-day mobilization of every ounce of intelligence."

Konosuke Matsushita,  1982


These quotes set the stage for how people fit into the quality equation. Too often managers have little or no idea what the processes are and how they function, yet hold the employees responsible for the outcomes.

How do we provide our employees with joy in work?  The most powerful tools to help people deal with the chaos of their jobs are the flowchart and the Ishikawa diagram.  Flowcharts begin to show the complexity of the processes and why some employees could never succeed in their jobs regardless of how motivated they are.  Have you ever stopped to study the jobs that have frequent turnover?  Is it the supervisor, the job, or the employee?  In some situations, I have found it helpful to create a horizontal flowchart of the process, trying to divide the flowchart into meaningful segments. (It seems easier to deal with segments than big processes).  For example the clinic example might consist of: making appointments, registration, assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and discharge).  Then under the flowchart, list all the issues in each segment that create problems for those working in this process.  Under these issues, I list the data we have about this process (which is usually not much!), and finally I list the organizational policies (if any) that may be influencing this process.   Such an exercise quickly identifies where people are being held accountable for parts of the process that they cannot control.  More importantly, it shows management where it might have placed policies that have actually made the process worse.

Another useful exercise is to look at all the policies for human resources.   Typical results of this analysis show a large number of policies that are meant to control employee actions.  And the policies just keep getting bigger and more complicated as more exceptions are found and incorporated.  There is a story that I heard (I have no data to know it is true) that a company had 13 pages of "Personal Leave" policy, with a large number devoted to bereavement leave.  If an employees' immediate family member died, the policy was clear on granting leave, but what about an aunt that was very close to you, or your best friend, or your mother's best friend and you're needed to drive, or ...?  The more the company tried to dictate, the worse the situation became.  The story goes that the company did away with all bereavement leave policies and had one sentence: "If you need time off for a death, see your supervisor."   They said that Grammy, who had died about 5 times, stopped dying.  Peter Block, in his book Stewardship, makes the point  that we cannot treat employees like children and then expect them to be responsible adults.

Another key concept about people and improvement is that all improvement requires change (however, not all change is an improvement!).  People have a hard time accepting change, even if it means better service for their customers and often a smoother work life for them.  Education alone will never "make" people change. Change is not a rational act, it is an emotional one!  There have been many books written on change and how to get people to change.  The following quote from Robert Quinn's book Deep Change, probably sums it up best: "We cannot easily recognize that the problem is part of the system in which we play an active role.   Our first inclination is always from a perspective that externalizes the problem, keeps it somewhere "out there." Because the problem is out there, it is always others who need to change.  Our first thought is to tell them to change.  Our second is to force them.  Painful experience tells us that this route is usually less than successful and often disastrous, producing undesirable and unproductive results." (p. 32-33)

Quality improvement is all about finding out what needs to be changed in order to improve.  You will learn the tools, methods, even the art of improvement, but it will still require that people be willing to try new things, collect data to see if a change is an improvement and be willing to change permanently those processes that should be improved.  People will always be the hardest hurdle in this journey.   Facilitative leaders will do much better than dictators!!


Team Orientation:

Another very important part of this module is to acquaint yourself with the idea of interpersonal skills, team-building skills, cross-functional teamwork, consensus development, and empowerment.  All these terms come with positive and negative connotations (just read the comic strip "Dilbert"!).  However, all improvements (except for the very personal ones) require that people work together.  Very few of us learned to work together in school or at work as evidenced by the plethora of seminars, books, conferences, etc. on the subject.   Use the Internet to explore resources on some of these subjects.

No meeting should ever be held without a clear statement of aim/purpose, an agenda with items that reflect the aim,, time limits  and how long this project will last.   No one wants to commit to meetings that will last 5 years, unless they know that in advance.  Working in teams is difficult for most people.  Yet the reason is very simple:  each invididual brings a personality type to the table which will color their expectations and their working style. Some may be social and want to talk about family and events, some will be drivers who want to get to the task and quit wasting time talking, some will be detailed oriented and others will be slow steady workers who will get it done but frustrate the drivers to no end.  If a team is having a hard time getting started or keeping the momentum going, it may be necessary to stop and  admit that the group is struggling and talk about the problems.   If the team needs to work together for a long time, I would suggest that team-building skills be done so that they will be able to move past the differences and onto the task.  If the group's assignment is short term, then it may be necessary to rethink the group composition, the style of the leader, the task, etc.


Assignment:

There is no particular assignment for this module but you will be expected to include the results of your Internet search, as well as the following readings, in your final assignment in Module 5.
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