Published on February 23, 2014
The Emerald Research Register for this journal is available at www.emeraldinsight.com/researchregister The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www.emeraldinsight.com/0954-478X.htm CASE STUDY How HR professionals drive TQM: a case study in an Indian organization How HR professionals drive TQM 467 Sasmita Palo Unit for Labour Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India, and Nayantara Padhi School of Management Studies, Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi, India Abstract Purpose – The main objectives of the present research were to: look at the strategic role-played by the HR professionals at various stages of TQM implementation; identify precisely how do they operate as internal consultants; study the interface between HRD and other departments to support TQM; and uncover various human resources challenges associated with TQM implementation in the sample organization. Design/methodology/approach – Data were collected both from the primary and secondary sources. The secondary data had been retrieved from the sources like the ﬁles, records, and documents, Annual Reports of the Company. Nevertheless, the analysis made is primarily based upon ﬁndings of the structured interview held with the senior executives of the HRD and Personnel Department, TQM-ISO Cell, and other Supporting Departments, and trade unionist leaders. Findings – The study ﬁnds out that the HR professionals helped out the top management in aligning HR and quality policies; formulating quality friendly policies, systems and procedures; crafting and communicating the TQM mission and vision; generating quality awareness among employees; get organized the organization as well as employees for TQM implementation; developing managerial support to quality action plans (QAPs); organizing quality workshops and TQM training programs; and shifting the conventional mind-set of employees, etc. in the sample organization. They act as internal consultants to other departments in quality matters. Implementation of TQM in the company has engendered a number of HR challenges for instance, motivating knowledge workers, mobilizing key managerial personnel, obtaining employees satisfaction, overcoming communication barriers, resolving problems associated with PSU trappings and vastness of the organization, etc. Research limitations/implications – The study on its face appears to be limited as it is carried out in a single Indian organization, i.e. Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited/Vishakhapatnam Steel Plant. Thus, its ﬁndings cannot be generalized. Practical implications – The study prescribes certain HR strategies to strengthen the TQM-HRM bondage in the company. Originality/value – The ﬁndings are very useful from the standpoint of HR professionals. Keywords Total quality management, India, Consultants, Human resource management, Training Paper type Research paper The authors are grateful to Mr T.K. Chand, DGM (Corporate Personnel and Coordination), Visakhapatnam Steel Plant and all other Sample Respondents for their collaboration and precious suggestions during the period of survey. The TQM Magazine Vol. 17 No. 5, 2005 pp. 467-485 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0954-478X DOI 10.1108/09544780510615960
TQM 17,5 468 Introduction For more than 13 years (mostly since the declaration of the Structural Adjustment Programme in 1991-1992), organizations in India have come under mounting pressure to boost their business performance, measure themselves against world class standards and direct their efforts on the customers. To abet this process, organizations have embraced an assortment of approaches or philosophies. One of such approaches is total quality management (TQM). TQM is an encompassing management approach whose principal tenets are to satisfy (internal and external) customer needs through strategies of employee empowerment and performance measurement (Milakovich, 1991; Garrity, 1993; Barzelay, 1992; Keehley, 1992). People are at the vanguard of TQM (Dale et al., 1997; Schlenker, 1998; Poonawalla, 1999). No matter how sophisticated the quality strategy of the organization is, it will not pass with excellence unless people are earnestly concerned and committed to it. The role of HR professionals revolutionizes under the quality management systems because of changing expectations of stakeholder with regard to human resource management (HRM) responsibilities. At the outset, they have to act upon one of the most arduous tasks, i.e. to bring psychological transition in people (Shiba et al., 1993). Implementation of TQM requires re-engineering of manufacturing processes and products (a part of BPR), adoption of Just-In-Time (JIT), benchmarking with world class companies, production at zero defect level, and above all, yielding continuous improvement in activities and processes through team spirit. Espousing these practices require employees to awfully change their working approaches they have gone along with for years. In this context, HR professionals have to play a critical role in managing the psychological transition, motivating and enlivening people to achieve total quality. Second, the total quality approach contends for a more proactive people-focused approach in which HR professionals adopt total quality to become strategic partners in improvement and business planning. The ﬂourishing companies have used TQM to put the specter of Taylorism behind them, recognizing that TQM could provide a holistic approach (Macdonald, 1995). In nutshell, they have to align total quality human resource strategic management with business strategic management (Petrik and Furr, 1995; Oakland and Oakland, 2001). Integrating HR strategy and strategic planning is fundamental to achieving business excellence (Kanji, 1995). Third, they should act as internal consultants to other departments in the organization as members of cross-functional teams so that individual business units are billed directly for personal services they use (Kandula, 1997). Fourth, they must endeavor to unlock the potential of employees and utilize them to productive activities. Ordinary people can be made to do extra ordinary things by involving them in the TQM practice (John, 2002). Fifth, HR must play a key role in building an organization’s TQM culture. In some organizations, HR managers champion TQM by sponsoring educational initiatives, communicating successes and bringing in outside consultants to redesign work processes. Other HR departments take a more direct, hands-on role in implementing TQM, training employees in leadership and team building. Several recipients of the Baldrige National Quality Award have HR departments that revolutionized policies for selecting, training, evaluating and rewarding employees in a way that supports TQM strategies (Blackburn and Rosen, 1995).
Literature review Many authors and researchers now concede that effective people management and development is one of the primary means to achieving total quality. Such as, Caudron (1993) from his research project found that human resources system often get in the way of cultural change that is one of the goals of TQM. Organization needs to align human resource systems with quality goals. To achieve this end, the author suggests different methods like: communicating about quality through the HR Department; communicating information about quality efforts work best when done in a small group setting in which it can be personalized; training offered should focus on building quality skills with equal attention paid to behavioral skills and quality tools need for change in performance-management systems; and recognition. Another survey was conducted by Caudron (1993a, b) on human resource practices in companies that have won Baldrige Award. The result suggests that human resources must partner with other departments in the organization to support TQM effectively. Options include, using human resource representatives as internal consultants to other departments, as members of cross-functional teams, or restructuring the whole department so that individual business units are billed directly for personal services they use. The human resources’ role in total quality in municipal governments was examined by Anonymous (1993). The study exposes as quality pervaded the city hall, most governments moved toward strategic planning and goal-setting using quality teams. Schonberger’s (1994) study found that the conventional HRM practices conﬂict with TQM and should be changed. In terms of people and their roles, things that need to shift are: to make process improvement part of everyone’s job (not just a management/specialist responsibility); for managers to evolve into facilitators; and use of multifunctional teams instead of single teams. In terms of Human Resource Department, the shift needed are: letting line people handle most personnel functions; shrink the number of job classiﬁcations; focus on training for everyone; and spend less time on employee relations and wage/classiﬁcation issues. One HRM-TQM survey carried out which was responded by HR managers in 245 companies. Survey participants reported on how well their HR departments have implemented seven TQM principles. The responses provide a good barometer of how TQM has changed the internal operations of HR departments. Most HR departments in the sample had adopted the TQM philosophy of viewing other departments as customers, but few have translated that philosophy into speciﬁc actions. Less than one-third of respondents had embraced the other TQM principles. Dividing the sample according to overall organizational commitment to TQM revealed a strong, positive relationship between organization-wide commitment and implementing TQM principles within HR. The HR departments with the most signiﬁcant progress in implementation of TQM principles were in companies with strong TQM commitments (Adapted from Blackburn and Rosen, 1995). Dansky and Brannon (1996) investigated the relationship between TQM and HR effectiveness in home health agencies and found an afﬁrmative relationship between the two. Partha (1997) investigated the ramiﬁcations of TQM and the role that HRD department has to play when a company embarks upon TQM. He found that the TQM approach emphasizes planned changes through human resources, hence the HRD professionals are the ideal resource persons to start with. An earlier study which How HR professionals drive TQM 469
TQM 17,5 470 comprised 20 new technology-based small-medium enterprises (NTBFs) found that majority of respondent companies had no strategic approach to HRM. Another research conducted in French hospitals accentuates recommendations to follow so that TQM well ﬁt with human resources managers in hospitals (Escolan, 2000). Oakland and Oakland (2001) highlight some of the main people management activities currently being undertaken in the sample award winning companies. The core HR activities include: effective communication, teamwork, planned training and development, strategic alignment of HRM policies, employee empowerment, and continuous improvement. Vouzas (2004) investigated the status of the quality improvement efforts in selected industrial organizations in Greece and analyzed the “HR elements” related to these efforts. The study divulged that HR function in Greek industrial organizations has been seriously neglected for years and the role of the personnel professionals in quality improvement efforts has been overlooked. Research objectives The main objectives of the present research were: . to examine the strategic role played by the Human Resource Professionals at different stages of TQM implementation in the sample organization; . to identify precisely how do they function as internal consultants; . to study the interface between HRD and other departments to support TQM; and . to uncover various human resource challenges associated with TQM implementation in the organization. Methodology The present study was conducted in Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL)/Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP), a leading public sector enterprise (PSE) in India manufacturing crude steel. In order to carry out the study, plant visits were made by the researchers several times from January 2001 to December 2002. During the plant visit, data were collected both from the primary and secondary sources. The secondary data had been retrieved from the sources like the ﬁles, records, documents, Annual Reports of the Company, monthly House Magazine (Ukkuvani ), and occasional publications of RINL/VSP like Prerana. Other secondary sources were books, research journals, and periodicals, etc. Nevertheless, the analysis made hereunder is primarily based upon ﬁndings of the structured interview held with 75 senior executives of the HRD and Personnel Department, TQM-ISO Cell, and other Supporting Departments, and 15 trade unionists. The rationale of the interview was to seek their opinion on various issues relating to TQM-HRM interface. In most of the cases, interviews continued for 15 minutes to 1 hour. The interviews with TQM-ISO Cell Executives and Union members were unstructured and direct in nature in the sense that respondents had been ﬁrst made aware of the underlined purpose of the survey, and then interviewed in order to seek their opinion in an exploratory manner. However, the interviews with HR professionals had been well-structured and the interview guide was followed for the purpose. Background of TQM in the sample organization RINL/VSP is located on the Coast of Bay of Bengal in the State of Andhra Pradesh in India. The construction of this plant was started in 1981 and ﬁnally, the plant was
dedicated to the nation on 1st August 1992. RINL/VSP has been rated as the 68th largest steel producing company globally, producing over 3 MT of crude steel. The ranking is based on the latest bulletin from the Brussels-based International Iron and Steel Institute. The total workforce of the company was 16,856 as on 31 July 2003. The category-wise break-up of manpower is as follows: Executives (2,819), Junior ofﬁcers (1,473), and Non-executives (12,564). The journey of TQM in the company began on 15 September 1995 with the institution of TQM Cell under the leadership of the then CMD Mr J. Mehera. Initially, the Cell was under the control of Works Department and its objective was to promulgate total quality movement in the Works Division, so that the quality of work processes and whatsoever employees do improve ad inﬁnitum. To provide added impetus to the program, a full-blown TQM Department, i.e. the TQM-ISO Cell was established in January 1997. Presently, many TQM techniques such as Benchmarking, Quality Improvement Projects (QIP), Employee Involvement Scheme, House Keeping, etc. have been implemented very fruitfully which is evinced from the ISO Certiﬁcation of the company by the Bureau Veritus Quality International (BVQI), UK. Interface between HR policy and quality policy The Human Resource Plan of company aims at developing the unreserved commitment, creativity, competence and initiative of the personnel in meeting its business challenges. The ﬁrst step taken by the HRD Department in the direction of quality initiative was making the alignment between the HR and quality policy in the organization. Human resource policy The HR policy of the organization gyrates around the basic tenet of creating a highly motivated, vibrant and self-driven work force. It lays thrust on the following aspects: . continued up gradation of skills; . competence building; . developing motivational climate; . improving internal communication; . building productive business culture; and . fabricating discipline as a part of work life. Quality policy RINL/VSP is committed to supply to its customers quality products and services. To accomplish this, the company ensures that it will: . manufacture products as per speciﬁcations and standards agreed to with the customers; . follow clearly documented procedures for achieving expected quality standards of products and services; . continuously strive to improve quality of all materials, processes and products; and . maintain an enabling environment, which encourages active involvement of all employees to pursue continuous improvements in quality. How HR professionals drive TQM 471
TQM 17,5 472 As it is observed from the above, quality policy of the company accentuates adherence to the laid down speciﬁcations and standards and chase the documented procedures. To achieve the end, HR plan lays emphasis on continued up gradation of skills, competence building and internal communication. Quality policy stipulates an enabling environment, which encourages active involvement of all employees to pursue continuous improvements in quality. This can be achieved by the HR plan, which provides for the development of motivational climate and building productive business culture. HR plan of the company has also envisaged an action plan to promote activities like multi-skilling, job ﬂexibility, broad banding of designations, team working, optimization of attendance, accelerated learning curve, overlapping shifts, optimum utilization of manpower, stabilizing good work practices, ﬂattening the organization structure, etc. This action plan has been supplemented by combining HR plan and employees development plan. Role of HR professionals in the TQM implementation TQM is a management philosophy as well as a management program. TQM was introduced in RINL/VSP in the year 1996-1997 and started spreading across the departments during the ensuing years. The HR professionals have played a key role at various stages of TQM implementation. Figure 1 shows a blueprint of their role. Phase I: envisioning The HR professionals played a central role in creating and communicating the TQM vision of the company, which reads as, “RINL shall be a self-supporting and growing Figure 1. Blueprint of role of HR professionals in TQM implementation in RINL/VSP
company, with continuous improvement in productivity, quality, and customer satisfaction”. Phase II. preparing Just as a table must be arranged before we eat, an organization must also be prearranged before TQM implementation. The grounding stage is very crucial as it paves the way for future of TQM activities and sets the tempo. In RINL/VSP, in the beginning the top. Executives tried to gear up themselves. During this stage, HRD department played a vital role in close alliance with the TQM-ISO Cell. The major activities undertaken by HRD department during that stage are listed below: . assisting the top executives in drafting the quality friendly policies, plans, systems, and procedures; . hiring the Consultant for development of quality statement, TQM goals, and objectives; . communication to employees, customers, suppliers and others; and . decision to proceed and obtain the commitment from the top management to provide resources to implement TQM. Phase III: implementing The role played by the HRD department at different phases of TQM implementation were as follows: . creating quality awareness across the organization; . developing management support to QAPs; . organizing quality workshops; . focusing on quality in policies, systems, procedures, etc., and . paradigm shift-change in mind set. Creating quality awareness. Implementation of any action plan/program needs sufﬁcient wakefulness among the people ahead of time about the plan and its advantages. Quality as a concept as well as an action plan has to be extensively communicated amongst the employees at all levels in the organization. HR professionals in RINL/VSP have taken up the responsibility to create TQM awareness among employees by organizing training programs and carrying out different communication exercises through brieﬁng groups, shop ﬂoor programs, participative fora, etc. in consultation and collaboration with line executives. Besides, they have also prepared a variety of literature on quality in forms of pamphlets, posters, slogans, wallboards, etc. which have gone a long way in creating the knowledge repertoire in the organization. So far, 35 weeklong quality awareness programs have been organized in the company with the active assistance of HR professionals. These programs not only generated urgency for TQM, but also taught employees valuable skills for its effective implementation. Developing management support. Successful implementation of TQM extensively depends on acceptance of TQM as a philosophy of management. Towards this end, HR professionals in RINL/VSP have worked by organizing TQM appreciation workshops by inviting an internationally recognized consultant viz. Organization Development Inc. (ODI), Singapore for providing training to top management as well as key executives in the organization. They have succeeded in spreading the message that How HR professionals drive TQM 473
TQM 17,5 474 TQM is a management philosophy as well as a program to the top management and garnered their support that is evident from the fact that Executive Directors, Directors and CMD of the company invariably attended the inauguration and valedictory programs of different quality workshops. Organizing quality workshops. The HRD department has organized a series of workshops for TQM facilitators and key executives to appreciate TQM and spread the message of total quality at all levels. The details of the programs conducted since the inception of TQM in the company are obtainable from Table I. In these workshops, pocket books and literature on quality were supplied to the participants. They were also given lucid ideas on certain concepts like QAT, FADE Cycle, etc. Formation of quality advantage/action teams (QATs). With a view to steer implementation of TQM in its “Nuts & Bolts”, a number of QATs have been constituted in the company to streamline the systems and procedures. These teams have taken up various projects and developed solutions for implementation, which have created what many of the analysts call as “Waves of TQM”. So far, 292 QATs have been formed in the company for various projects. Focusing on quality in policies, systems, and procedures. The HRD department also assisted in the formulation of new quality friendly policies, systems and procedures as well as updation and rationalization of the existing ones in order to create the right kind of ambience for effective implementation of TQM. Paradigm shift-change in mind set. Not all efforts for promotion and implementation of TQM may yield the desired result unless and until quality becomes the attitudinal propensity of employees. Towards this, HR professionals put emphasis on what may be called a PARADIGM SHIFT, i.e. change in mind-set of people. Prior to the implementation of TQM, the attitude of people was to give importance to the production and sales only. After implementation of TQM, emphasis lays on total quality in the processes so as to make the end results qualitative. The slogan “Quality ﬁrst time and every time” has become the exhortation among all the employees of RINL/VSP. Quality awareness, experiences of successful implementation of TQM in other organizations, formation of QATs and performance feed back for taking corrective measures have all led to an imperceptible, but steady change in the attitudinal dimension of the employees. Today, each employee of RINL/VSP is committed to TQM not as a program, but as a means for his own survival. TQM has been linked to the endurance of the organization and enunciation of such a need has made TQM a functional system in the organization. Thus, the attitudinal transformations coupled with TQM being functional system have hastened its implementation with accomplishment. Year Table I. Quality workshops organized by HRD department of RINL/VSP during 1996-97 to 2001-2002 1996-1997 1997-1998 1998-1999 1999-2000 2000-2001 Number of programs conducted 120 115 135 140 145 Number of employees covered Executives Non-executives 850 750 1,000 1,200 1,298 (7.08) (6.52) (7.41) (8.57) (9.08) 2,000 1,750 2,500 2,700 2,950 Note: Figures in parentheses denote average number of participants per quality workshops Source: Data collected from the HRD Department, RINL/VSP (16.66) (15.21) (18.5) (19.28) (20.23)
Phase IV: sustaining the momentum When a company launches a new-fangled program, employees must be taught how to acclimatize behavior patterns to get advantage from the program. In this context, training is of paramount importance since it facilitates learning of the requisite skills and knowledge to make the program successful as well as to sustain the momentum. In addition, effective communication is evenly responsible for the success of the program. Although time consuming and costly, communication can potentially reduce fear of the employees associated with new role patterns, make them feel more comfortable with breaking previous routines, and develop performance consistent with TQM effort. In RINL/VSP, through proper training and communication all the employees are persuaded to empathize TQM, and the implementation process has achieved a momentum through employee involvement and team-building activities. Training. TQM initiatives have heaped on the need for training employees (Rainbird and Maguire, 1993; DeToro and McCabe, 1997; Marchington and Wilkinson, 1997; Singh et al. 2000). Training plays an important role in generating awareness (Palo and Padhi, 2003), developing a supportive culture (Brown, 1993), building quality skills (Caudron, 1993a, b), encouraging team building (Smith et al., 2003), and commitment to quality policy and strategy (Palo and Padhi, 2003). In RINL/VSP, a well-thought out training program has been designed to provide training to employees (both executive and non-executives) on TQM. What is acclaimed that the training activities carried out in this organization are approximately identical to those procedures generally found in the management literature on the theory of training. For instance, many writers have developed models of the training process (Arnold et al., 1991; Taylor, 1989; Storey and Sission, 1993), but basically these can be summarized into four phases that is assessment phase, planning/design phase, implementation phase and evaluation phase (Oakland and Oakland, 2001). Assessment phase. The training needs of each employee are identiﬁed and assessed regularly and thereafter training is provided to ﬁll up the skill and knowledge gap. Identiﬁcation and assessment of training needs of employees in RINL/VSP are done in the following manner. . Annual Conﬁdential Reports (ACRs) in case of non-executive employee. . Appraisal Reports in case of executive employees. . Periodic survey by Training Department/HRD Department. . Feed back of Reporting Ofﬁcers and Reviewing Ofﬁcers. . Recommendations of HODs. . MOU with Training Department. Training/HRD Department conducts periodic survey in the plant department-wise, grade-wise or position-wise with a view to identify training needs for the concerned employees. In such exercise, they circulate questionnaires amongst the employees for self-assessment of training needs, amongst Reporting Ofﬁcers and Reviewing Ofﬁcers for identiﬁcation of training needs of employees working under them as well as amongst all concerned to assess training requirements to discharge the functions effectively. Such assessment of training needs is then compiled, codiﬁed and pursued. Planning/design phase. This stage identiﬁes where and when the training will take place and involves such question as: How HR professionals drive TQM 475
TQM 17,5 . . . . . 476 . Who needs to be trained? What competencies are required? How long will training take? What are the expected beneﬁts of training? Who/how many will undertake the training?, and What resources are needed, e.g. money, equipment, accommodation, etc.? (Oakland, 1999) Typically, RINL/VSP planned its training program annually according to the needs of the employees and business. It circulates a list of available courses well in advance of the training dates. The strategic training plan is supported by an annual budgeting and planning system. Implementation phase. This phase implicates the actual deliverance of the training. Both the Training and Development Centre (T&DC) and HRD Department organize the training programs regularly. The details of the program with regard to TQM and ISO conducted at the Centre for HRD during 1996-1997 to 2001-2002 are presented in Table II. The table is self-explanatory. Evaluation phase. This phase is commonly acknowledged as one of the most critical steps in the training process. In this phase the overall effectiveness of training is evaluated and this provides feedback for the trainers, senior managers, the trainees themselves, and future improvements of the program. Evaluation takes many forms, such as observation, questionnaires, interviews, etc. in the sample organization. Communication. Effective communication is a critical component of achieving business success, be it communication of the organization’s goals, vision, strategy and business policies, or the communication of facts, information and data (Collins and Porras, 1994; Larkin and Larkin, 1994; Purser and Cabana, 1997; Yingling, 1997). Regular, two way communication particularly face-to-face with employees is identiﬁed as an important factor in establishing trust and a feeling of being valued (Mumford and Hendricks, 1996; Fourtou, 1997) which is highly essential to achieve total quality. In the sample organization, two-way communication is regarded as both a core management competency and as a key HR responsibility. A number of schemes have been introduced in the organization to improve interpersonal communication. These schemes inter-alia include: . workplace communication scheme wherein the personnel executive/shift in-charge communicate directly with the workers within the workshop; . shop-ﬂoor interaction sessions; . participative forum of unions; . samalochana session within the department; and . open house session with CEO. All these communication exercises have enabled continuous dialogue between individual employee and management and have made the organization a learning organization. Figure 2 shows the number of employees covered under various communication exercises conducted by the HRD department.
Programs/Year 19961997 E NE Workshop on SPC and SQC Technique for ISO-9002 20 Total quality advantage 36 Total quality advantage for facilitators 17 ISO 9002 for internal quality auditors 102 ISO-9002 documentation 177 ISO procedures and instructions 38 Quality action tea (QAT) facilitator – QAT leaders – QAT members – FADE cycle – ISO 14000 awareness – ISO for key executives – ISO procedures – Intricacies of audit – ISO systems – Team work for SMS, etc. – Technology and teamwork – Teamwork for FMD, etc. – Teamwork and BF and SMS – Technology and teamwork – Teamwork for mills – Teamwork for C and CCD – Teamwork for RMHP and SP – 19971998 E NE 19981999 E NE 199920002000 2001 E NE E NE 20012002 E NE 1 – – 2,769 – – – 22 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 32 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 26 27 47 67 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – How HR professionals drive TQM – – 29 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 20 – – – – – – – – – – – 40 – – – 82 – 204 – 332 – – – 64 – – – – – 23 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 31 396 27 255 12 116 19 227 2 50 35 376 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 307 – – 247 – 59 252 263 – – 292 – – – – – – – – – – – Note: “E” – indicates executives, “NE” – non-executives, “ – ” – indicates nil Source: Data collected from the HRD Department, RINL/VSP 477 Table II. Training program conducted at Centre for HRD during the period 1996-1997 to 2001-2002 Figure 2. Employees covered under various communication exercises during the period 1999-2000 to 2001-2002 A typical list of HR responsibilities for effective communication in the organization to achieve total quality includes: . to meet people on a regular basis; . to enhance trust and de-emphasize power differences between themselves and their subordinates; . to make sure people are briefed on key issues in language free of technical jargon;
TQM 17,5 . . . 478 . to communicate candidly and as fully as possible on all issues which affect their people; to encourage people to suggest novel ideas; to persuade team members to discuss company issues and give upward feedback; and to motivate people for good house keeping. Team building. It is evident from the research that pioneering organizations place great emphasis on the worth of people working jointly in teams. This is hardly startling as a great deal of theory and research indicates that people are motivated and work better when they are part of a team. Teams can also achieve more through integrated efforts and problem solving (Katzenbach and Smith, 1994; Crom and France, 1996; Milliken, 1996; Robie, 1997). The team-oriented work environment is an essential factor for the success of TQM (Woods, 1993; Dean and Bowen, 1994). In RINL/VSP, the Directorate of Personnel has organized many synergetic teams to effectively handle matters relating to TQM. Team building is facilitated in various areas of functioning by tailor-made workshops on team building viz. Technology and Team Work, Team Working, Enhancing Management Effectiveness, etc. In the multi-union setting of the company, team building is targeted towards managing the plural diversity of unions and facilitating evaluation of commonality of perceptions of unions on vital issues affecting the organization. Employees’ involvement. Most people still assume that total quality is the responsibility of quality specialists. However, this belief is ﬂawed and detrimental to realize total quality. If it is believed that the onus of TQM rests only on the specialists, the organization would be attempting to pull itself up by tugging at its bootlaces (Wakhlu, 1994). In RINL/VSP, employee participation is promoted at all levels to cultivate commitment and involvement of employees through small group activities like suggestion scheme, quality circle and other participative fora. In the areas of quality circles, the following initiatives have been taken up during the year 1997-1998, wherein preparatory works were made for implementation of TQM. . Conducted 12 workshops on QC techniques for the members and leaders. . Organized 120 exposure programs on QC concepts in different departments. . Annual Quality Circle Recognition function was held to felicitate the QC members for implementing the projects. A compendium on 3,187 QC implemented projects was released during the above function. . Department-wise QC functions were held during the year to recognize and motivate the employees by distributing the mementos to the eligible QC members. . Four teams, one each from Utilities, Blast Furnace, Coke and Coal Chemicals Department, and Energy Management Department were sent to QCFI chapter convention at Bokaro in October 1997. In the matter of suggestion schemes, enormous effort was made by the HRD Department to generate more number of suggestions from employees, which is evident from the increasing number of suggestions received over the period from 1997-1998 to 2001-2002. Figure 3 shows support to this fact.
Interface between HRD and other departments to support TQM Partnership of HRD with other departments is a must to support TQM progress. Because, TQM does not conﬁne itself to any functional speciﬁcation, instead it spreads to the entire business of the company. In RINL/VSP, the HRD department plays the role of a facilitator as well as a participant in implementation of TQM in the organization. In such endeavor, HR professionals partner with other departments to support TQM. As a partner, they not only preached the TQM mantra, but also practiced it themselves in their own functional areas. “Action is more pronounced than words” is what made TQM as a program acceptable to all departments. Companionship is the cardinal approach that HR professionals have followed in RINL/VSP to spread TQM message. A handful illustration of partnership of HRD Department with the line departments would make it more comprehensible. Quality Action/Advantage Teams (QATs) have been constituted in the organization with managerial personnel from cross-functional disciplines as well as HRD. TQM facilitators have been chosen not only from HRD Department, but also from all other departments to conduct quality workshops. Likewise, at the outset quality policy of the organization had been discussed amongst all the managers, which was facilitated by the HR professionals and quality policies were formulated and practiced afterward. Thus, partnership between HR and other departments is palpable in all activities of TQM. How HR professionals drive TQM 479 Role of HR professionals as internal consultants HR professionals also serve as internal consultants to other departments to facilitate better implementation of TQM. The following action points taken by the HR professionals demonstrate their role as internal consultants. . HR professionals acted as facilitators and trainers in conducting quality workshops. . At the time of entering into MOU by different departments with their customer/supplier departments, HR professionals act as internal consultants and advise the departments pertaining to formulation of draft MOU and raising points for discussion and resolutions. . HR professionals act as internal consultant in the area of cost reduction and reduction of activity cycle. . HR professionals also suggest ways and means to improve work climate index as obtained from “Voice of Employees” survey conducted every year. Figure 3. Number of suggestions received from employees during 1997-1998 to 2001-2002
TQM 17,5 480 HR challenges associated with TQM Implementation of TQM sounds like a “well-executed” strategy in RINL/ VSP, but it was not an exultant and uncomplicated experience on part of the HR professionals. It has thrown up several human resource challenges to them that include: . motivating knowledge workers; . mobilizing key managerial personnel; . obtaining employees’ satisfaction; . overcoming communication barriers; . PSU trappings; and . vastness of the organization. Motivating knowledge workers Employees of RINL/VSP are well educated as compared to the employees of the sister steel plants. For instance, in the non-executive category, Charge men are holding Diploma in Engineering and Technicians are having Matriculation with ITI. These workers are well informed, their need in terms of Maslow’s (1943) hierarchy of need is not conﬁned to physical and security needs. Instead, they have enlarged need for recognition. Motivating workers with high recognition need in the direction of TQM required extraordinary efforts on the part of HR professionals. Mobilizing key managerial personnel Another challenge faced by the HR professionals was pertaining to mobilization of key managerial personnel. The key managerial personnel were mobilized for swift TQM implementation by undertaking the following activities: . The competent authority approved TQM implementation through M/s Qualteam Consultants. . Two presentations by EICHER Consultancy Team on implementing TQM in RINL/VSP were organized for senior managers. . Two presentations for senior managers and ten-days assessment study were organized with the help of M/s Xerox Quality Solutions regarding implementing TQM in the company. . M/s Qualteam Consultants conducted an assessment study in connection with implementation of TQM in the company. . M/s Qualteam Consultants conducted two workshops on “The Quality Advantage” for 36 senior executives. Obtaining employees satisfaction Satisfaction of employees is imperative to achieve total quality. A good quality of work life is a major component of obtaining employees’ satisfaction. In RINL/VSP, employees’ satisfaction is pushed up through various measures such as, reward and recognition scheme, open door policy, fair and non-discriminatory grievance handling scheme, suggestion schemes, incentive schemes to enhance productivity, group incentives, maintenance of good working and environmental condition, etc. In addition, attempts are being made by the HRD department to build up conﬁdence and generate optimism in
every employee that the job he/she is doing is worth the effort and leads to achieve total quality. In order to ﬁnd out the level of employees’ satisfaction with their work life, an organization-wide survey was conducted by the HRD department in November 2002. From this survey, the overall satisfaction index in each division in the company was estimated separately for both executives and the non-executives, which is shown in Figure 4. It was presumed that if the index were less than 49, it would show pronounced dissatisfaction; between 50 and 69, it would show no pronounced satisfaction or dissatisfaction. However, the ﬁgure indicates that the employees’ satisfaction indexes in all the cases are more than 70, which reveals the pronounced satisfaction of employees with their work life. How HR professionals drive TQM 481 Overcoming communication barriers In a huge organization like RINL/VSP with an enormous network of marketing ofﬁces across the country, the success of implementation of TQM critically hinges on a successful communication exercise. HR professionals took this as a serious challenge and consequently developed some communication exercises to communicate the TQM message to the farthest person of the organization. Speciﬁc measures undertaken in this direction are enumerated above. In addition, provision of formal as well as information channels of communication with all unions and associations has ensured effective communication at all levels of personnel functionaries. This has ushered in a culture of dialogues and discussions with unions to sort out issues instead of conﬂict and confrontation. PSU trappings RINL/VSP is a public sector undertaking under the Ministry of Steel, Government of India. Its policies, rules and regulations are approved by the Board of Directors, which comprises two Government nominees. Some of the policy decisions are even taken at the Ministry level. Above and beyond, directives of the Department of Public Figure 4. Employees’ satisfaction index for quality of work life in RINL/VSP
TQM 17,5 Enterprises, Ministry of HRD, and Cabinet Secretariat, etc. also guide the activities of the company. At times such plethora of rules and regulations obstructs the communication and implementation of the novel concepts like TQM. The HR professionals have found ways and means to introduce and operate TQM within the framework of these rules and regulations. 482 Vastness of the organization TQM is the responsibility of every employee and it has to be accomplished in every thing done in the organization. If any employee fails to achieve total quality or total quality has not been achieved in any activity or process, it has to be averred that TQM is a failure in the organization. This poses the challenge for the managers including the HR professionals. RINL/VSP is a large public sector undertaking employing almost 16,856 employees, who hail from different socio-economic and educational backgrounds. This is indeed a multifarious task for the HR professionals to conceptualize, communicate, and convince all the employees to accept, internalize, and implement TQM not as a better management technique, but as a survival kit. Conclusion The HR professionals in RINL/VSP have played a strategic role at different stages of TQM implementation. They assisted the top management in aligning HR and quality policies, creating and communicating the TQM vision, preparing the organization as well as employees for TQM implementation, generating quality awareness among the employees across the levels, functions, and departments, developing management support to QAPs, organizing quality workshops, formulating quality friendly policies, systems and procedures, changing the conventional mind-set of employees, organizing TQM training programs (on teamwork, total quality advantage, FADE cycle, ISO procedures, instructions and documentation, etc.), devising different communication exercises, encouraging team building activities, promoting employees involvement through suggestion scheme, quality circle and other participative forum. In order to facilitate the TQM progress in the company, the HRD department has made on conﬁguration with other departments. A number of quality action/advantage teams have been constituted in the company with managerial personnel from different departments including the HRD one. Quality policy of the company was also formulated in consultation with the HR professionals. The HR professionals in the company also act as internal consultants to other departments for better implementation of TQM. They act as facilitators and trainers in various quality workshops and advisors to other departments at the time of entering into MOUs with their customer/supplier departments. Implementation of TQM in the company has posed quite a lot of human resource challenges to HR professionals such as, motivating knowledge workers, mobilizing key managerial personnel, obtaining employees satisfaction, overcoming communication barriers, solving problems associated with PSU trappings and vastness of the organization, etc. Thus, following implementation of TQM, from a mere functional department HRD Department has now become an indispensable tower of strength of the organization. The TQM-HRM bondage in the company can be further nurtured by adopting the following measures.
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