Part 11 – Clause 5.1 Leadership and Commitment
I have always said that the lack of leadership and commitment is the most important reason why quality management systems (QMS) fail.
As soon as staff see their leaders showing behaviours that contradict commitment to the QMS, the system starts to erode. Staff begin to use work-arounds, circumventing the system. Customers’ wants and needs slide lower down the priority list, eventually to be forgotten altogether.
As a certification body auditor I saw management signing their names on quality policies and saying the right words in front of customers and employees. But looking under the hood in the business it was clear that they had let the system slide by not “walking the talk”.
When it comes to getting certified to ISO 9001, managers need to determine what leadership style they want to adopt. How they will communicate their commitment to the team? How will this style support the organisation’s QMS?
Once this is established, displaying leadership and commitment to the QMS is straight-forward.
For Mango, this step was a breeze. Throughout our careers we had worked under a variety of leaders, some good, some bad and some in-between. In discussing the different leadership styles that we experienced, we were able to shape the style that we felt would be most effective for our organisation.
We agreed that our leaders would possess the following attributes:
- Be open – Explain the QMS to all employees.
- Be encouraging – Invite employees to participate in the creation of our QMS.
- Be Inclusive – Let everyone have their say.
- Listen – Hear employees’ different points of view.
- Learn – Be willing to allow all staff to learn from mistakes while considering the risk.
How did we plan to meet the leadership and commitment clause of ISO 9001?
To start the process we sat down with our team members to explain:
- What a QMS was.
- How they all fitted within the QMS.
- What Mango wants to achieve from being ISO 9001 certified.
- We discussed the creation of the context of the organisation process. This included the:
- We made sure that everyone had a clear understanding of Mango’s strong focus and commitment to quality and to our customers.
- We also promoted the idea that employees should be involved in the continuous improvement of Mango. All employees agreed that this was necessary and so we created an ideas noticeboard.
So what are the takeaways in developing leadership into your Quality Management System?
- Sit down with senior management and determine the leadership approach you feel is best suited to gain commitment and support of your QMS.
- Top management are accountable to communicate the QMS to the organisation.
- Ensure that all employees are informed of what a QMS is, how they fit into it and what your organisation wants to achieve out of the process.
- All employees should be involved in effectively implementing the QMS.
View previous blogs in this series "How to Implement a QMS and Achieve ISO 9001 Certification":