Anyone who runs a business has faced the challenge of ensuring that employees take the right steps to get the job done. This applies particularly to companies that manufacture products or provide services, government agencies that must enforce regulations and organizations like hospitals that are entrusted with the health of patients. How do these concerns go about making sure that employees follow the right steps? They write quality procedures that specify each employee’s role in improving overall performance.
Start by understanding the difference between internal and external quality. Internal quality refers to a company’s attempts to better its inside operations, such as improving management and employee performance. External quality refers to a company’s efforts to maintain high levels of customer satisfaction.
Focus on writing procedures to improve internal quality. Emphasize that everyone in the company—from support staff to senior level managers—must take part. However, remember that if you show a genuine interest in employees’ responses to new procedures, you’re likely to inspire employee engagement, which ends up boosting morale.
Take advice from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which has published quality standard manuals for use by manufacturers and service providers. According to Praxiom Research Group Limited, which interprets ISO standards for the general public, ISO 9004 suggests that companies “create a sociocultural environment that supports improvement.” This means that managers must respect support staff in order to gain respect in return, the company must share corporate information with employees and that supervisors can encourage employees to work better by setting the right example.
Develop a system to measure improvement in the quality process. Once again, ISO 9004 recommends that companies learn how to measure customer satisfaction and employees’ professional development—the main components of a total quality management system.
Consider suggestions made by GMP, a world leader in good manufacturing practices, to companies seeking to write quality procedures. GMP suggests that managers understand each job before writing procedures for it. They should list the key steps employees must follow when performing their particular jobs.
Write quality procedures in everyday language. According to GMP, “You can increase the readability of the procedure by using short, simple sentences.”
Learn how to package the procedures so that employees will pay attention to them. For example, GMP suggests you take extra steps to design eye-catching pages, tables of content, indices and appealing visuals.
Use pictures in your quality procedures manuals or instructions. Not only can pictures make your instructions easier to understand, but they can be used to emphasize important points or otherwise arouse employee interest.
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