QUALITY: Beyond the Numbers

By Rob Wolff, Senior Consultant 

As regular readers of our blog are familiar with, our approach to culture is focused on behaviors.  By being very deliberate and specific about what behaviors we want our employees to engage in, we’re better able to ensure the type of performance that drives results.

One behavior that many of our clients have in one form or another relates to delivering quality work. In fact, Make Quality Personal is one of the Fundamentals (behaviors) that define our culture here at High Performing Culture.  This Fundamental involves much more than simply “doing a good job.”  It talks to the underlying need to do work that you’re proud of – in fact to be motivated by wanting to do your best with everything that you touch.

There are obvious benefits to doing quality work – results are better; people learn to trust in and rely upon you; and it’s easier to maintain a forward trajectory when you’re not busy reworking things that weren’t done properly the first time.  Clearly there are tremendous upsides for both the individual and the organization when people deliver quality work.

The Bigger Picture

I think there’s much more to this Fundamental than the obvious benefits listed above.  When I think about people I’ve encountered throughout my career who I would describe as truly happy and fulfilled by the work that they did, the people who come to mind are all people who seemed to have a way of making quality personal.  I believe very firmly that, as individuals, we have an inner need to know that we’re part of something larger that is meaningful in some way.  Further, we want and need to know that we’re a positive contributor to something larger.

As an example, one of the most satisfied people I ever worked with was Geno. His job wasn’t glamorous – his responsibilities were split between operating theUPS line in a shipping department, and keeping that shipping department clean. Those were both important functions in a large distribution operation, but they were typically ones that others avoided at all costs because the work never ended.

Geno embraced his role and invested all of his focus and effort to approach each of his responsibilities with a sense of commitment and pride that, had I been able to replicate it across the rest of the operation, would have seen us set record performance every quarter. If we had a guest touring our facility, Geno would proudly take responsibility for leading the tour in his area, and with the biggest smile you can imagine, he would refer to it as his area.  He took enormous pride because he committed himself to having the cleanest, most organized and efficient area in the building – he was proud to show others his work product, and doing so made him the most satisfied employee in the entire distribution center.

Looking Back

I had the good fortune of working with Geno early in my career.  At the time I knew that I wished I had more people just like him, but I didn’t know what to do about it.  Had I known about the Fundamentals System then, I would have understood that it was possible to create more team members like him.  The Fundamentals System works because we help managers be very clear and specific about what behaviors will most likely drive success, and then we institute systems to teach those behaviors over and over and over again.  So, had I been clear and specific about expecting others to make quality personal in the same way that Geno had, and had I taught it over and over and over again, I would have begun the process of creating an army of Genos.  That would have helped my monthly metrics, but it also would have been an opportunity to help meet the needs of the rest of the team by helping them realize the benefit of Making Quality Personal.

The HPC Fundamentals System offers a proven and direct method to help you figure out what it is that you want to teach your employees, and it also provides a teaching and coaching process that will last the test of time.  If you’d like to learn more about how to transform your organization by taking an intentional approach to managing your workplace culture, shoot us an email or give us a call.