Total Quality Management in HR

Add bookmark

What is Total Quality Management?

To be more precise, a core definition of Total Quality Management, or TQM, is a management approach to long-term success through customer satisfaction.  All employees of a company or organization employing a TQM approach participate in improving processes, products, services, and the culture.

WEBINAR:  How Organizational Network Analysis is Reshaping the Workforce

What elements make up a TQM approach?

According to ASQ, there are 8 primary elements of a total quality management strategy/effort.

  1. Customer-focused: Quality is determined by the customer.
  2. Total employee involvement: It is the responsibility of all employees to work toward the company or organization’s common goals.
  3. Process-centered: ASQ describes this as, “A process is a series of steps that take inputs from suppliers (internal or external) and transforms them into outputs that are delivered to customers (again, either internal or external). The steps required to carry out the process are defined, and performance measures are continuously monitored in order to detect unexpected variation.”
  4. Integrated System: This focuses on the processes that interconnect the functions of a company or organization.  ASQ explains below:
    • Micro-processes add up to larger processes, and all processes aggregate into the business processes required for defining and implementing strategy.  Everyone must understand the vision, mission, and guiding principles as well as the quality policies, objectives, and critical processes of the organization.  Business performance must be monitored and communicated continuously.
    • Every organization has a unique work culture, and it is virtually impossible to achieve excellence in its products and services unless good quality culture has been fostered.  Thus, an integrated system connects business improvement elements in an attempt to continually improve and exceed the expectations of customers, employees, and other stakeholders.
  5. Strategic and systematic approach: Formulating a strategic plan to integrate quality as a primary component of the company’s vision, mission, and goals.
  6. Continual improvement: Drives the company or organization to be more analytical, creative, competitive and effective.
  7. Fact-based decision making: The company or organization continually collects and analyzes data to improves the accuracy of decisions, allows for consensus, and prediction.
  8. Communications: Considered essential to a TQM strategy as it plays a part in morale and motivation.

State of HR Report

The State of HR is in transition. The days of being merely transactional are extinct and the evolution of the strategic HR department is underway. So, what shape will the future take? Where will the focus lie in order to achieve success? Find out in our latest report: The State of HR.

How does HR fit into the TQM strategy/effort?

The answer to the question is simple:  HR’s role is critical.  According to their book, Human Dimensions of Total Quality Management, Sasmita Palo and Nayantara Padhi say HR professionals are often responsible for:

  • Managing the transition to the TQM strategy/effort
  • Motivating staff to achieve total quality
  • Aligning the TQM strategy with business strategy
  • HR professionals act as internal consultants to other departments
  • Key role in building the TQM culture

TQM Case Study

Several years ago, Dr. Stephen Nhuta wrote a case study on Kenya Airways and their adoption of a Total Quality Management strategy.  At first, the TQM strategy was failing the airline company.  Reasons for this included the lack of a declared purpose for the strategy and lack of commitment from management.  Often times, employees of the airline found “customers as a source of unnecessary and uncalled for irritation”.

READ:  Pros and Cons of Labor Unions

In order to get the strategy back on the right flight path, leaders had to change the attitudinal framework of the staff and transition those staff members to a more TQM-related frame of mind.  Leadership priorities also had to change. Leaders began to recognize, reward, and promote employees.

The airline also changed their culture.  Leaders created the “Building Pride Together” course.  It was designed to be run by consultants with staff members acting as facilitators.  The entire staff was retrained.  As a result, the airline saw an increase in morale and motivation from their employees.


While some consider total quality management to be an outdated approach, there are some qualities still applicable in today’s environment.  Consider, if you will, the unifying characteristic of the total quality management approach.  It, at its core, is a unifying practice in that it requires all staff members to participate and move the company forward.  Also consider the emphasis put on communication.  The case study provided is a perfect example.  Before, there was a severe lack of communication at Kenya Airways and the strategy suffered.  When employees began to communicate with one another, the direction of the strategy changed and the company began to succeed.


Mason Stevenson
HR Exchange Network