Total Quality Management

September 21, 2009

Relationship of TQM and HRM: The Strategic Perspective

Filed under: HRM in TQM — Tags: , , — Nameer @ 8:02 pm

TQM pioneered by Edward Deming, is a broad-based systematic approach for achieving high levels of quality. Many leading companies such as Motorola, Cadillac, and Xerox, whose strategies require them to survive against the pressures of world-class competition, have  implemented TQM.

In strategic context, TQM is probably most accurately categorized as a tactic for carrying out strategies requiring high level of product or service quality. Essentially TQM pulls together a number of well-known management principles into a coherent and systematic framework. Through the systematic interaction of these principles, TQM has the potential to lead to increased quality. TQM principles emphasize:

  • Articulation of strategic vision
  • Objective and accurate measurements
  • Benchmarking
  • Widespread employee empowerment and team building
  • Striving for continuous improvement
  • Emphasis on a systems view of quality that conceptualize quality-related activities as being highly interdependent
  • Leadership committed to quality
  • Great emphasis on customer satisfaction

TQM programs hae the potential to increase the importance of the human resource management function. Human resource management plays a major role in providing more systematic training, facilitating changes that empower employees, instituting team-based reward systems, and communicating to workers their role in quality.

David Bowen and Edward Lawler have described the relationship between TQM and Human Resource Management as follows:

The importance of the HR side of quality equation provides HR department with golden opportunity. Quality can be the “business issue” that truly brings senior managers and HR executives together to move from just HRM to strategic HRM. A major role in the quality improvement effort puts HR in a position to contribute directly and visibly to the bottom-line, to add value to the company’s products and services in the same way that other functions, such as sales, accounting, and production, add value.

Before the human resource function can make full contribution to TQM efforts, high quality must be assured within the function itself.  Benchmarking provides a useful means of both evaluating the quality of human resource programs, activities and impact as well as a means of identifying areas in which resource should be concentrated. The following quotations by David Ulrich, Wayne Brockbank, Arthur Yeung describes practice:

Benchmarking HR practices provides the means of focusing attention on highest value-added HR activities–those practices which are more likely to be practiced by successful companies. Rather than fall into the trap of trying to do everything well and please everyone with insufficient resources–which results in no one being satisfied–HR professionals could use benchmarking to focus limited resources on critical activities.

One of the important impacts of TQM, from strategic HRM perspective, is that it places great emphasis on training. TQM maintains that error and mistakes, which detract from the quality of companies’ products and services, are predictable result of untrained workers, and therefore training must be provided. Consistent with the emphasis on measurement, in some companies that use TQM, training is evaluated with the use of control groups and experimental designs.

In contrast to training, TQM is sharply at odds with conventional human resource practices in the area of performance evaluation. According to Deming, traditional performance evaluation systems are flawed because they are directed toward the individual instead of a team. Such systems are also focus on assigning blames for past mistakes instead of pointing out the direction for the future and may even detract from teamwork.

Despite these differences, most of the concpets of TQM are very much applicable in HRM and if used in a systemactic and well-planned manners can result in good product and service quality and organizational growth.

Source: Strategic Human Resource Management, Second Edition by Charles R. Greer


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