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19 February 2013

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How to Kill Zombies and Instil Quality

How to Kill Zombies and Instil Quality

Believe it or not, there are zombies amongst us. You may have your own suspicions looking around the office, but zombies don’t always fit under the stereotypical description of an indecipherable individual sporting a grey complexion, trudging around in torn clothes. In their sole quest to hunt for human brains, they have no plan, no desire to improve, never learn from their mistakes and certainly aren’t worried about customer service – all necessities for a business claiming to have ISO 9001’s quality principles instilled in their organisation.

Of course, office zombies are more regularly categorised by a more familiar description: the de-motivated. Whatever they’re called, it’s not good for business. Before you pick up your weightiest cricket bat, we have some ideas on how you can address these issues a little more diplomatically.

Blame the system, not the individual

Remember, zombies begin life as regular as the next guy. They start off as productive, motivated employees, but can quickly change if left defenseless from the roaming undead. The reality is it’s not there fault; to find a cure, we need to eradicate the source of the infection.

Some typical examples for a once model colleague becoming a demotivated zombie include:

  • Frustration in ineffective, outdated or duplicated processes
  • Realising people are approaching the same tasks in different ways, with different results
  • An inability to trace mistakes back to source
  • Having to carry out resulting time consuming re-work

Situations like these cause resentment, and a consequent buy-in landslide. If management isn’t leading from the front, and if many are ignoring agreed processes, who can blame them succumbing to the inevitable? The longer it continues, the easier the infection spreads.

Remembering ISO 9001’s principles

We’re not going to call the ISO 9001 standard a thrilling read, but ISO’s 8 Principles of Quality Management provide a quick checklist for those pondering why things aren’t working. To make things even easier, we’re only going to focus on a few of them below.

Under, Leadership, the principle states that a business should have clear objectives and employees should be actively involved in achieving this. Employee engagement is also directly covered under Involvement of People, where it emphasises the importance of making employees accountable for their actions, leading to a greater feeling of responsibility. Finally, Continual Improvement is something that should be adopted as an ongoing business objective.

If you believe all of the above is already ingrained into your company culture, then the chances are you are safe. If not, it’s time to step up as our hero; the prevention of a zombie takeover may just rest on your shoulders!

Going on the attack

Without doubt, it can be hard work if you’re taking on the responsibility of ISO 9001 above your normal daily duties, which is why you should ideally put a crack team of ‘survivors’ together. Who’s already seen the advantages of ISO 9001 in action? Recruit them! They can help to influence others and spread the workload.

We do of course have our own anti-zombie training, otherwise known as our new ‘Accelerated’ Internal Auditor course. It’s designed to leave you feeling confident in ensuring compliance to ISO 9001’s requirements, thereby reducing the stress, hassle and potential bloodshed of losing certification, and more importantly, the proven benefits of the World’s most popular quality management standard.

Whilst you can never relax with the constant threat of a zombie invasion, the rewards for your efforts are worthwhile: engaged and committed staff do their jobs well with help from efficient processes that have been constantly refined to meet customer requirements. With a drive to continuously improve, outputs will be measured to ensure ongoing success. It’s what ISO 9001 is all about.

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