TQM Introduction, Concepts, and Definitions - Paper Example

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Harvey Mudd College
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The simplest definition of quality is meeting the customer requirements and aiming at increasing their satisfaction. According to ISO, quality is the totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs." The emphasis of this definition is the satisfaction of needs. In other words, a product or service can be said to be of quality if it meets the requirements of the target client.

Quality management is the totality of management of all activities aimed at producing quality within an organization. Thus, if the aim is to improve the quality of product or service then the emphasis of quality management is the use of customer feedback. In addition to the consumer focus, the concept of quality management stresses the need for team building, self-worth of employees, and partnerships between organizations. According to Martin (1993), quality management also stresses protection over remediation. In other words, it is cheaper for organizations to build quality products or service in the long run than use additional resources to rework or to handle customer dissatisfaction (p7).

Most of the work in quality management was done by the Japanese who were the first the idea. However, the Americans have a fair share of the contribution to the notion through the works of Armand Feigenbaum, Edwards Deming, Juran, and Phil Crosby just to mention but a few. However, the American approach to quality management is slightly different from the Japanese system. The term total quality management (TQM) was coined differentiate the quality management systems as used in America and Japan as well as to integrate the theories of American management experts (Martin, 1993). According to Mossard (1991), TQM is the application of quantitative methods and human resources to improve the material and services of supplied to an organization, all the processes within an organization, and the degree to which the needs of the customer are met, now and in the future (p233). In this definition, fundamental management techniques, current improvement efforts, and technical tools geared toward continuous improvement are integrated.

Team building concept and definition

Team building refers to the process of putting together a team by selecting members either from the public or from an already defined group. The concept can also refer to the activities that seek to strengthen the relationships within a team. The overarching aim of team building exercise is to increase the cohesiveness, efficiency, and productivity of the team members (McShane & Travaglione, 2003).). Organizations rely on team building for success and the onus is on them to create high-performance teams through engagement of the members in the team building process to increase teamwork. Teamwork is largely due to the teams working together effectively. For teamwork to be realized in an organization, a wide continuum of factors such as good communication skills, complementary skills, mutual respect, team leadership, and clear decision-making procedures must be present for success to occur. In other words, teams are like machines consisting of various well-coordinated parts. Each member knows what he or she is supposed to do and his or her contributions are part of the larger picture of the teams productivity.

There is no standard definition of the term team building, as many scholars definitions are dissimilar although they encompass the above concepts. For example, Woodman and Sherwood (1980) describe team building as planned interventions focusing on problem-solving and effectiveness while Mazany and colleagues (1995) define team building simply as an investment in the organizations human resource (p. 51).

The relationship between TQM and team building from managerial perspective

The role of managers in organizations is to increase organizational performance generally. Therefore, the imperative of the managers is to find solutions that can bring about more successful and efficient organizational performance. Consequently, many competitive organizations have implemented TQM to improve their performance continuously (Gharakhani, Rahmati, Farrokhi, & Farahmandian, 2013). The concept of TQM gravitates more towards human services rather than organizational efficiency. Organizational development entails the process of enhancing the business practices, efficiency, and effectiveness, leading to a more competitive organization and individual performance (Anderson, 1991). It involves the planned efforts by the management to create competitiveness in their organizations with a human resource that can work together towards collective problem solving and innovation for future growth. To this end, the management can use different organizational development initiatives based on their specific needs to strengthen their firms. Needs are not uniform across organizations with some only needing partial improvement in some areas while other organizations have more needs. Therefore, organizations are most likely to select solutions based on their present needs, but with an eye on the development of quality across the organization in order to achieve present and future goals. Managers can choose from among many interventions available for improvement (Senge et al., 1999). For the purposes of this paper, however, the relationship between Total Quality Management and team building are is determined.

The role of team building as an intervention that can help organizations to bring together people from diverse backgrounds, disciplines, values, cultures, attitudes, and education levels has been widely appreciated in literature (Gratton & Erickson, 2007; Harrison & Klein, 2007). As stated earlier, the concept of team building is essential when recruiting new members to the team, solving potential conflicts among members, strengthen the human resource services to accelerate the achievement of the organizational vision and goals, and achievement or enhancement of specific projects (Van Aken, 2007). The hallmark of team building process is to identify and develop teams that can work together, help them to find common values, vision, and roles just to mention but a few. However, the overarching aim of team building is to improve the cohesiveness and effectiveness of teams (Borkowski, 2011).

Besides team building, organizations are increasingly using TQM concepts to bring about continuous internal improvements in order to create competitive advantage. TQM allows managers to develop new techniques that help them to look at the improvement processes from a proactive approach i.e. continuous improvement (Inc, 2014). Therefore, what total quality management does is to help firms to think about continuous improvement continuously in all areas of the organization. TQM essentially help managers to develop the techniques for teams, strengthening the groups by giving them problem-solving tools. As it can be seen, although TQM is a managerial intervention to bring about organizational improvement, it achieves this objective by influencing team building from a human resource point of view. TQM provides problem-solving tools such as the art of brainstorming, flowcharts, and benchmarking among others to teams. It is apparent that data plays a key role in the problem-solving process because data provides the basis for the practice. Thus, team members learn about the data review basics through various tools such as diagrams as well as the techniques that will enhance the effectiveness of groups. Managers use total quality management aspects to direct the focus of teams on specific processes at a given time. This way, TQM introduces the aspect of efficiency to teams to deal with issues conclusively before moving to other issues. According to Borkowski (2011), TQM can be used to recognize and develop new improvement opportunities for the firms, enhance the creativity or innovativeness of team members, reverse negative trends that may occur in the company, and drive change. Borkowski further avers that total quality management builds on the dynamics of the human resource and provides an opportunity for participation of all workers to strengthen the ability of teams to solve problems for process improvement.

A particular strength of total quality management is its ability to help managers to develop a vision for their organizations. TQM help organizations to acquire competent employees for continuous improvement by providing teams with specific tools and processes to enhance their ability to solve problems. When people acquire skills to identify trends, they acquire the ability for opportunity recognition. Not only does total quality management principles help teams to solve problems at the workplace but also lend a helping hand in recognizing new opportunities that can give an organization a competitive advantage; hence, continuous improvement. Moreover, TQM provides a significant role in helping employees to get involved in the organization's quest for continuous improvement. According to Van Aken (2007), although team building strengthens teams, the problem - solving tools provided by TQM empowers the teams to become stronger and more productive and ready to tackle any challenges. The TQM and team building concepts are intertwined generally. Managers use both concepts to bring together competent human resources that can provide the best services to their organizations from diverse cultural backgrounds, values, educational status, and disciplines and empower them to bring success collectively (Zbaracki, 1998). The caveat of these improvement processes is that it is time-consuming (Adair, 2009). Furthermore, the concept of total quality management is that an organization should improve continuously which can be mentally exhausting (Borkowski, 2011).

Problems facing managers to apply TQM in team building process

One problem facing managers in applying total quality management in team building process is lack of diversity among the group members. It is feared that having people with similar skills in a team may lead to the impediment of achieving the preferred goals (Jayne & Dipboye, 2004). A project may stall if the correct mix of skills is missing. The second problem is the presence of poor communication within the team. Proper communication is essential at all phases of team building or project implementation (Antai-Otong, 1997). If the team leader does not communicate to the members, information flow suffers. If the team members consider their roles independent, communication is also likely to suffer. Team leadership plays an important role in offering direction and a sense of purpose of a project or team. Therefore, team development can suffer a heavy blow if the team lacks effective leadership. The onus is on managers to ensure team leadership is present at all times to ensure that the teams function efficiently. Without good leadership, accountability from members becomes a challenge (Dyer, 2007). In addition, the team members may lose morale and momentum in whatever they are supposed to do. Therefore, leadership is an important factor in encouraging the implementation of TRM in an organization (Dyer, 2007).

Role confusion is a serious threat to teamwork in any organization. The aim of team building is to enhance peoples ability to work together towards a common good. However, each team member needs to know his or her specific roles within the group. The team will not have coherence and proper functioning if one or some members of the group lack knowledge of the specific roles within the team (Klein et al., 2007). Consequently, t...

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