Total Quality Management – Part 10: Publicize and Recognize Success

The components of Quality Management that we have covered in the last nine months depends totally upon the commitment of the owners of the business. If the owners are the first converts to the Quality Movement, the employees will follow — and enjoy the trip. The Quality Initiatives covered in this series will concentrate upon the needs of the customers and will invigorate the employees of the agency.

The best Quality Performers are known for publicizing the successes of their employees, their teams and their organization, both large and small. This is not an “ego trip”. As Will Rogers once said, “It ain’t boastin’ if it’s true!” Many of our backgrounds imply that success is expected and is not celebrated while failures are not acceptable and are criticized.

TQM turns that concept around. No, we don’t overlook our failures. We understand that the lack of failures is the sign of someone simply not trying hard enough — not taking enough risks — to better serve their customers and differentiate their performance from the norm. We analyze failures and correct or fine tune the performance that caused the failure.

However, if we criticize and analyze failure and fail to recognize and publicize our successes, it sends the wrong message to the employees. The message is that thanks and recognition are rare and hard to get while criticism is easy and quick to be delivered. Is that the message we’re trying to get across?

Recognition, congratulations and thanks should be treated like rare and fine wines. They should not be used irreverently and without cause. But they do no one any good bottled up in the basement. Look for reasons to crack open a bottle of praise and do so at every opportunity.

Praise and recognition for jobs well-done is not to be confused with an attitude of general contentment. In fact, the best Quality Performers develop a culture of discontent. They are happy with their successes and tell everyone so, but they always realize that the performance can and must continue to improve.

If you’ve initiated Teams in your organization, publicly praise them for every “win” that they chalk up. The more you recognize your performers and teams, the more they will contribute to your success. It is a perfect example of the self-fulfilling prophecy. Success breeds more success while bemoaning your condition and your failures breeds more failure mentality.

In order to initiate the celebration of your successes, we often recommend a program called, “Catch ‘Em Doing Something Right”. Your and your managers become responsible for noting a success for each of your employees at least once each week. Think about it. If an employee does not accomplish one thing for which (s)he can be congratulated and praised during an entire week, is this really the quality of employee you should have treating with your clients??? At first your employees will be distrusting of this unusual behavior on your and your managers parts. However, it will soon dawn on them that you are truly praising them and you will notice a new attitude morale in your office. Employees will feel better about themselves. This makes them feel better about the organization and it certainly transfers to their dealings with the customers.