If you have worked in government for any
period of time, you have likely seen and
made compromises for the sake of expediency.
We are not talking here about finding a
middle ground with another person. What we
are talking about is the situations where
managers knowingly do things that they know
are going to be ineffective. It is important
to be aware of how those kinds of decisions
impact upon introducing and implementing TQM
in the workplace.
Let me cite some
A Minister exerts some
influence on hiring practices by suggesting
that a specific person be gated in.
Government officials, mindful of the
political realities of government, comply.
A branch director
identifies "which way the winds blow" on an
issue such as affirmative action, or
multiculturalism. The branch director takes
the stance that "we need to be seen as doing
something", and formulates a program or
process with the sole goal of appearing to
A manager receives a
complaint from a client/customer. Speaking
with the client, the manager is considerate
and understanding, but when relating the
incident to staff, indicates that "these
things happen", and gives the impression
that the situation is not to be taken
A brochure is created for
public consumption. For one reason or
another, the writing and visual content is
clearly not as good as it could be. The
manager, noting this state of affairs,
shrugs and says "oh, well, it's good
Each and every time a
manager compromises regarding quality, or
bows to pressure, a clear message is sent to
staff, colleagues, and customers. To staff,
the message received is that the
organization is not serious about achieving
its substantive goals in a quality way.
Staff will quickly catch on that the
organization values appearance over
accomplishment, expediency over results, and
avoidance of conflict over problem-solving.
No matter what a manager
says, staff will examine managerial behavior
to determine whether there is a serious
commitment to quality. Each instance of
"compromise" will erode staff's perception
of commitment, and reduce their own levels
of commitment and motivation.
Keep in mind that both
clients and staff will be alert to
situations where people are rewarded for
doing lousy work. By sanctioning compromised
standards, procedures or actions, you are
likely to increase the occurrences of future
compromise on the part of your staff. Also
keep in mind that your clients will be
encouraged to behave badly, if they believe
that you will buckle. This is clearly the
case in organizations are involved in
administering financial benefits. Employees
in organizations that give out money have
indicated that there seems to be a
relationship between the degree to which
senior officials give in to squeaky wheels,
and the amount of threatening or obnoxious
behavior on the part of clients.
As a manager, one of the
toughest decisions you need to make is when
to compromise standards and when to stand
your ground. Each situation is different. At
least be aware that these kinds of decisions
will affect your credibility and standing
with your staff, and affect your ability to
orient your organization towards Total
Quality Management. Keep in mind that what
initially appears to be a decision made to
please those above you has the potential for
doing the opposite, creating unpleasant
media furor and negative public perceptions.
Your "walk" speaks louder
than your "talk".
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