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Quality is contagious: Is it infecting your organization?

The word “quality” is used everywhere. It commonly conveys a degree of excellence, as in a quality automobile, a quality wine and, most importantly, a quality of life. But how does a company or organization repeatedly achieve a consistent level of quality? It comes from your people (the most precious asset you have) and from the development of a “Quality Culture” within the company.

Leading by example

Finding the right people to lead is probably the biggest and most challenging step in building a team with a clear sense of identity and a vision for where it's going. Stay true to your vision and hold your ideals at the forefront to inspire other leaders to stand up and identify themselves. People are persuaded that quality is an organizational value only when organizations and their leaders consistently demonstrate that quality is valued. When it comes to quality, there must be “constancy of purpose.” When employees identify with quality, it is contagious – employees interact with each other and reinforce this value. Sharing it creates a sense of purpose and influences how employees conduct everyday work.

At Michels Corporation, we also recognize the role of informal leaders. Informal leaders are those who provide leadership to employees because of their longevity, knowledge, experience, personality and strength, among other factors. It is critical that they become a part of telling the story: connected to the assets they are building, conveying the sense of ownership and ethical responsibility, and always practicing good process.

If you see it, reward it!

We are always on alert for notable Quality initiatives by crew members. Notable employee Quality activities, input and recommendations are rewarded. The awards are accompanied by personal recognition by management. Awards help bring the Quality focus to the forefront, further instilling the Quality Culture drive of Michels. As Phillip Crosby stated, “Quality is the result of a carefully constructed cultural environment. It has to be the fabric of the organization, not part of the fabric.”

Invest in your people

If you have a team or a business you must educate your people on the process of doing their job. Then you must train and retrain them on how to do their jobs better. Investing in employee development builds a skilled, knowledgeable workforce and sends a message that the organization values and is committed to its people. Having the privilege of working for an organization that clearly believes in the investment of employee development, I am honored to be a part of that culture. We are also continuously seeking opportunities for improvement. Only through a process of continuous improvement can we expect to reach and maintain the highest quality standards.

Quality at every level

How the employees “own” and “buy in” to their roles in ensuring quality is important. Every action on an asset or decision made on behalf of the system at large is seen as connected to the quality of the project. When the value is shared extensively at every level of the organization and a widespread level of commitment to overall quality performance is expected, everyone will do what is right, even when no one is looking. And when that happens, you will know that your organization’s Quality Culture is thriving.

  • Jon Connaway

  • Michels Quality Manager Jon Connaway leads the Michels Quality Department, which inspects, audits and confirms that quality requirements are consistently fulfilled. He oversees integrity and continual improvement of work processes and conformance. Jon has more than 30 years of experience in the construction industry. He is committed to construction of long-lasting and safe infrastructure and is passionate about providing opportunities for others in their personal and professional development.

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