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Introduction

Globalization in the business theater is driving companies toward a new view of quality as a necessary tool to compete successfully in worldwide markets. A direct outcome of this new emphasis is the philosophy of total quality management (TQM). In essence, TQM is a companywide perspective that strives for customer satisfaction by seeking zero defects in products and services. Making quality improvements was once thought to be the sole responsibility of specialists (quality engineers, product designers, and process engineers). Today, developing quality across the entire firm can be an important function of the human resource management (HRM) department. A failure on HRM's part to recognize this opportunity and act on it may result in the

loss of TQM implementation responsibilities to other departments with less expertise in training and development. The ultimate consequence of this loss is an ineffective piecemealing of the TQM strategy. Thus, HRM should act as the pivotal change agent necessary for the successful implementation of TQM. HRM can act as senior management's tool in implementing TQM in two fundamental ways. First, by modeling the TQM philosophy and principles within its departmental operations, the HR department can serve as a beachhead for the TQM process throughout the company. Second, the HR department, with senior management's support, can take the TQM process companywide by developing and delivering the long-term training and development necessary for the major organizational culture shift required by TQM. The HR department also has major strengths in terms of recruitment, selection, appraisal, and reward system development to institutionalize a quality-first orientation. An appreciation of the capabilities of HRM to model and institutionalize TQM begins with an understanding of the TQM philosophy.

The TQM Philosophy:


Implementing a total quality management system has become the preferred approach for improving quality and productivity in organizations. TQM, which has been adopted by leading industrial companies, is a participative system empowering all employees to take responsibility for improving quality within the organization. Instead of using traditional bureaucratic rule enforcement, TQM calls for a change in the corporate culture, where the new work climate has thefollowingcharacteristics,
Anopen,problem-solvingatmosphere. (2)Participatorydesignmaking. (3)Trustamongallemployees(staff,line,workers,managers) (4)Asense of ownership and responsibility for goal

achievement

and

problems

solving.

(5)

Self-motivation

and

self-control

by

all

employees.

Conclusion The international focus on quality, combined with increasing costs of materials, equipment, labor and training, are driving the implementation of TQM as a competitive strategy in all types of organizations. These forces for change also provide an opportunity for an expanded role of human resource management in making TQM succeed. Quality can no longer be viewed as the responsibility for one department. It is a company-wide activity that permeates all departments, at all levels. The key element of any quality and productivity improvement program is the employee. Consequently, employee commitment to a TQM program is essential. Because of its fundamental employee orientation, HRM should seek the responsibility for implementing TQM programs rather than risk losing their influence over the key element of TQM -- the employee. Organizations with a solid reputation for providing high customer satisfaction have a common viewpoint: consistently taking care of the smaller duties is just as important as the larger concerns.(7) Just as they attempt to instill an overall quality philosophy across the company, HRM can emphasize consistent quality in its own operations. The day-to-day delivery of basic HR services can be just as important as developing strategic programs that may have higher visibility and supposedly greater long-term consequences. As a guardian of such functions as recruitment and selection, training and development, performance evaluation and reward systems, the HRM professional is best able to take charge of these important functions as they relate to a TQM strategy. The full potential of the entire work force must be realized by encouraging commitment, participation, teamwork, and learning. HRM is best suited to accomplishing this by modeling these qualities. Leading by example, the HR department could then sustain the long-term TQM process company-wide. A by-product of setting a TQM example can be the improved standing of the HR department in the eyes of other, traditionally more influential departments.(10) But, the primary end result can be total quality management as a successful competitive strategy for organizational survival. Endonotes (1.)Crosby, P. B. Quality is Free. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1979. (2.)Deming, W. E. Out of the Crisis. Cambridge, MA: Center for Advanced Engineering Study, 1986. (3.)Fairbairns, Jill. "Plugging the Gap in Training Needs Analysis." Personnel Management (February, 1991) p. 43--45.

(4.)Feigenbaum, A. V. Total Quality Control. 3rd ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1983). (5.)Giles, Eillen and Williams, Roger. "Can the Personnel Department Survive Quality Management?" Personnel Management (April, 1991) p. 28--33. (6.)Greene, Robert J. "A '90s Model for Performance Management." HR Magazine (April, 1991) p. 62. (7.)Jerris, Linda A. "Quality Shines in Small Details." Personnel Journal (January, 1990) pp. 26--30. (8.)Juran, J. M. Juran's Quality Control Handbook, 4th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1988). (9.)Klekamp, Robert C. "Commitment to Quality Is Not Enough." SAM Advanced Management Journal (Winter, 1989) p. 13--16, 36. (10.)McCormack, Shaun. "TQM -- Getting It Right the First Time." Training and Development (June, 1992) p. 43--46. (11.)Norman, Carol A. And Zawacki, Robert A. "Team Appraisals-Team Approach." Personnel Journal (September, 1991) p. 101--104. (12.)Port, Otis; Carey, John; and Kelley, Kevin. "Quality--Small and Midsize Companies Seize the Challenge." Business Week (November 30, 1992) p. 66--72.