Leaders are responsible for creating a work atmosphere where employees can offer and acquire feedback that guides and directs their performance.
“Quality feedback is meant to enhance decisions in the face of change.
This feedback is meant to maximize company-wide acceptance when adaptations are required, and is also designed to supply recommendations that increase performance and reduce inefficiencies in work units and throughout the organization.
Quality feedback is essential for analyzing problems, considering possible solutions, and reaching an agreement on the most promising ideas.Employees’ cooperative efforts in this process are translated into recommendations for upper management to consider.
Recommendations include an implementation process of ideas, concepts and methods that work to enhance stability and participation in the workplace. The leader’s active involvement ensures recommendations will be accepted by management and then successfully implemented.
Without addressing an effective way to develop employee interactive feedback, all efforts to change systems, methods, procedures and processes will be thwarted.
In fact, nothing will transpire to move units or the organization ahead. When this happens, employee commitment and participation greatly decreases.
“Consequently, the leader becomes less effective.
This loss of effectiveness could result in damage of the transformational process and their employees’ trust.
Effective leaders know that one of the best ways to foster interactive employee feedback is by developing “quality circles.” This section discusses the details of a quality circle to help leaders understand why it works so effectively.
“Implementation is fairly easy, and it has the power to move a unit and organization ahead faster than many other methods.
The Quality Circle
Quality circles are small groups of employees who do similar work, meet regularly to gain insight, discuss feedback and analyze problems in their work units. Quality circles follow specific guidelines that act as boundaries:
- They meet consistently at scheduled times.
- Participation is voluntary.
- A group consists of six to eight employees.
- Problems are identified through discussion and active feedback, with analysis provided by each member. A solution is reached with full group acceptance.
- Recommendations are presented to upper management for approval and action.
The Criteria for a Quality Circle
To ensure top-quality feedback and interaction in the circle, specific steps are required.
The first meeting is meant to identify one problem that exists within the unit that needs to be modified, improved or eliminated. Once a problem is identified and prioritized, the participants gather as much applicable data and information as possible for discussion at the second session.
Throughout the second meeting, feedback is shared among all participants to analyze the links between the data gathered and the problem at hand. Circle participants weed through the collected data to sort out only factual, usable information.
The appropriate data combined with interactive feedback allows the group to define corrective measures that can solve the problem. When a final solution is agreed to, another meeting is scheduled to move the process forward.
This session develops a plan for implementing the solution determined at the previous meeting. Here, participants formalize a written recommendation to the leader, who then presents it to upper management to be reviewed and approved.
The Key to a Successful Quality Circle
To develop a successful quality circle, leaders must make certain that participants adhere to specific guidelines throughout the interactive feedback process.
If these key points are minimized, ignored or overlooked, the whole process can collapse.
To prevent this from happening leaders must:
- Create a positive atmosphere where employees are free to interact according to preestablished rules of conduct and without a leader’s negative interference.
- Make certain that everyone knows the basic philosophy of the quality circle process before beginning.
- Reinforce the positive aspects of the process. For best effect, leaders should publicize the achievements of the circle in the workplace.
- Participate actively on the steering committee for participant selection. Leaders need to become the active link between the circle and top management.
Become an Enthusiastic Facilitator
The quality circle process depends upon a leader’s willingness to be an enthusiastic facilitator. This is not always an easy job. Since there are continuous ups and downs in the process, leaders need to focus their efforts in the following ways:
- Maintain enthusiasm for the process and its members.
- Be as helpful as possible, and always sustain visibility during the meetings and discussions.
- Listen closely to all participants while demonstrating concern and care.
- Give credit where it is due while actively supporting the participants’ efforts and ideas.
Move Slowly into the Process
If the quality circle process is new to leaders and employees, it is wise to start the process slowly. To enhance the current project and to ensure the proper development of others, leaders should do the following:
- Select only one project circle to begin with.
- The first project can be a pilot to identify problems and issues that surface. Use it as an experiment, and learn from mistakes and ineffective procedures.
- Select the right area and atmosphere for the formation of the circle.
- Always keep participation voluntary.
- Remain open and positive about the circle’s activities and progress. Stay flexible. If progress is slower than expected, be patient and allow for additional meetings.
Allow for Thorough Evaluation and Complete Feedback
With a leader’s supervision and elements of mutual trust and cooperation, the quality circle should run quite smoothly. In any case, it is essential that the leader systematically tabulate the progress of the program, especially when more than one circle is operating simultaneously.
This evaluation should note the projects completed and the number of recommendations presented to upper management for approval.
It is also important to document the circle’s ability to save money, effort and time and to reduce waste and inefficiencies. These results need to continually be shared with all employees and upper management.
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