Magazine article Personnel Journal

Suggestion Systems Can Work under TQM

Magazine article Personnel Journal

Suggestion Systems Can Work under TQM

Article excerpt

Today's HR professional are required to have a vast amount of knowledge on a wide array of topics. Let PERSONNEL JOURNAL find the experts to answer questions on the personnel issues important to you. Your colleagues asked: What does it take to bring the traditional suggestion system in alignment with TQM?

James F. Riley Jr., senior vice president of the Juran Institute Inc., a quality-management consulting firm in Wilton, Connecticut, says:

First, companies should encourage employees to make suggestions based on their own work environments rather than on global issues. In the past, many suggestions people made were for improvements outside their area of responsibility. Often, they had only partial information, and the solutions given typically were impractical.

Second, supervisors or evaluators need to respond to employees as quickly as possible. The average turnover time for idea evaluation at Universal Card Services, a Malcolm Baldrige Award-winning division of AT&T, is 12 days. Also, try to respond to the submitting employees positively. If somebody is turned down on their first suggestion, they may never come back.

Third, the suggestion process should be simple. Some companies use E-mail systems, or, like Universal Card Services, set up toll-free numbers employees can call.

Fourth, recognize employees who make suggestions. The recognition can take many forms. Many companies find it useful to recognize volume per employee or volume per team with some sort of reward.

Which brings me to my last point. Rewards need not necessarily be proportional to the size of the savings generated from the suggestion. Some suggestions aren't easily quantifiable in terms of dollars, for example, but may have positive impact on morale or customer satisfaction and should be rewarded. For suggestions that produce quantifiable savings, rewards should be allocated based on company culture. If, in the past, employees always received some portion of the savings, policy changes would need to be made very carefully to avoid the perception of cheapness.

Kathleen Lastarria, corporate vice president of the All-Employee Systems Division of Maritz Inc., headquartered in St. Louis, says:

To align suggestion systems with TQM, you must move from a traditional suggestion system to a modern suggestion system. …

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