8 Key Elements of Total Quality Management (TQM) for Success

Updated Dec 7, 2022.
Elements of Total Quality Management (TQM)

Total Quality Management (TQM) is a top management approach that describes a company's culture, attitude, and organization poised to meet customer expectations for increased customer satisfaction.

TQM implementation mandates quality in all areas of the company's processes and operations.

This process is centered on continuous process improvement and statistical process control to get things done timely and eradicate waste and defects from the company's operations.

The TQM process guarantees quality control that drives a company's leadership, design, planning, and improvement initiatives. It requires the assistance of eight key elements for an organization to be successful in implementing TQM.

This process is envisioned as a house being built; eight elements are required to build it from the ground up to the top.

Let’s get started.

Four Groups of Total Quality Management (TQM) Elements

The eight key elements of TQM are divided into four groups according to their functions.

These groups are:

1. Foundation

Ethics, integrity, and trust are the first three key elements of TQM and make up the foundation group, serving as the first layer on which TQM is built. These three elements help foster fairness, openness, and employee involvement in all the company's processes.

They are crucial to tapping into the potential of TQM as they all work together but vary in what they bring to the TQM concept.

2. Building Bricks

After the foundation based on integrity, ethics and trust has been built, the next group of critical elements is referred to as the bricks and is crucial to reaching the roof of recognition.

Training, teamwork, and leadership are the key elements needed in your company's entire process, as they are the foundation’s building bricks.

3. Binding Mortar

Communication is the only key element of the eight elements of TQM and is required to bind all other elements together. A strong and binding mortar is needed to bind all components from the foundation to the roof.

4. Roof

The last and final element of the eight elements of TQM is recognition, which is one of the crucial elements of Total Quality Management. It is the last element (the roofing) required when implementing TQM.

Total Quality Management (TQM)
Source: SafetyCulture

Eight Elements of Total Quality Management

1. Ethics

Individual ethics refers to people being either good or bad in any situation they find themselves in and can also be represented by organizational ethics.

Personal rights or wrongs are the primary choices that characterize individual ethics. You must continuously make an effort to choose right in a TQM environment.

Organizational ethics establish a business code of ethics, detailing select guidelines that all employees must adhere to while carrying out the tasks and duties assigned to them by the organization's top management.

Business ethics versus Personal ethics
Source: Pediaa

Ethics requires an individual and a particular organization's understanding of what good and bad conduct are in the workplace. This element involves you often working an imaginary thin line between these two sides.

With ethical conduct being at the center of TQM organizations' TQM approach, individuals adhere better to the organization's rules, regulations, and code of conduct, ultimately improving organizational performance.

Core ethical values of the organizational ethics
Source: IspatGuru

2. Integrity

Integrity implies honesty, values, morals, fairness, sincerity, and total adherence to facts, as such efforts are what customers expect from TQM organizations.

Business management is a crucial aspect of a business. It is defined by business economics and details the strategic directions each aspect of the business is expected to follow.

Duplicity is the direct opposite of integrity. It depicts all customers do not expect to receive. A TQM organization cannot operate in an atmosphere plagued by duplicity.

Integrity mandates respect for workplace organizational policies, guidelines, and codes of conduct. Negative communication and unnecessary criticism of employees is frowned upon in a Total Quality Management environment.

Integrity traits
Source: BetterUp

3. Trust

Trust is what comes out of ethical conduct and integrity. It is a key element on which the framework of Total Management Framework is built.

This TQM element fosters full participation across all quarters and members of an organization. Trust empowers and encourages commitment, a quality that an organization prides itself on.

With trust, the decision-making process across all levels of the organization is relatively more straightforward. It is one of the elements needed for successfully implementing TQM.

Trust as an element involves individual risk-taking to guarantee continuous improvement. It ensures that the TQM-compliant organization focuses on improving its continuous process to meet its business objectives.

Trust exists when...
Source: Medium

Trust guarantees customer satisfaction by building a cooperative environment for Total Quality Management to flourish, making it an essential element when implementing TQM.

This element also ensures employee involvement. When there is relative trust in an organization, employees are more likely to show interest and participate in the organization's affairs. The relationship among employees is further improved.

With trust, developing long-term relationships among members of an organization is possible as there is no room for doubt to flourish in an organization built on trust.

4. Training

Training is an essential criterion for highly productive teams. It is primarily due to adequate supervision within their respective departments on implementing TQM.

TQM organizations provide a supervisory role to teach and train employees on the philosophies of Total Quality Management. This training is focused on improving employees' interpersonal skills.

Other improvements these supervisors hope to impact employees are their ability to function within their respective teams or departments, problem-solving skills, decision-making, job management performance analysis, business economics, and technical skills.

Training employees during the early creation stages of TQM is necessary. TQM aims to make employees more effective while carrying out the tasks and responsibilities required by the company.

By making employees aware of the benefits they stand from Total Quality Management, managers can motivate employees to make distinct changes in the production process, evident in the product quality and the company's profit outlook.

Training your employees on how to implement TQM effectively within their respective teams makes your employees an indispensable resource for your company.

TQM and Training Impact
Source: ResearchGate

5. Teamwork

Teamwork is a key element that guarantees the success of Total Quality Management and the company. Teams allow organizations to come up with quicker and better solutions to problems.

Also, teams make provisions for permanent improvements in the company's processes and operations within a team setting.

Employees feel more comfortable tabling the problems encountered as they are guaranteed to get help or the required solution from other members of the team.

Effects of collaboration on company success
Source: Zippia

Teamwork is an essential element of Total Quality Management as employees have more to gain from working in teams than individually.

Teams are now left with several possible solutions to choose the best and most effective one that improves existing processes and operations. Employee involvement, customer focus, and relationship management are crucial elements for successful TQM implementation.

One benefit of working in teams is the unique opportunity to brainstorm ideas. Through these, several solutions to the problems already highlighted spring out.

Essentially, every TQM organization is characterized by three categories of teams, and these teams are:

Quality Improvement Teams (QITs)

This category of teams is usually created for a more temporary outcome. The task of quality improvement teams (QITs) is to find solutions to specific, recurring problems. Their timeline of operations is usually between three to twelve months max.

Problem Solving Teams (PSTs)

Problem-solving teams are created to solve specific problems and identify the root cause of these problems and ensure they prevent future occurrences. Their operational timeline is usually between a week to three months max.

Natural Work Teams (NWTs)

This team category has the shortest operational timeline and usually works between one and two hours weekly.

Natural Work Teams (NWTs) are made of small and select groups of skilled employees sharing tasks and responsibilities in an organization. These teams utilize TQM concepts such as employee involvement teams, self-managing teams, and quality circles.

6. Leadership

Leadership is probably the most crucial element in TQM and is required at all levels of an organization. Every leader needs to have the right leadership qualities to succeed.

In Total Quality Management, leadership requires managers to provide an inspiring vision, develop strategic directions and present it in a way that all and guide employees will easily understand.

Managers must show a significant commitment to leading employees. They need to understand and demonstrate a belief in elements and principles of Total Quality Management and relate them to the employees under them.

10 leadership skills for effective leaders
Source: Acesence

Strategies, philosophies, values, and goals need to be conveyed by the manager down through the ranks of the organization as it helps provide clarity and direction on the path of employees.

The organization's top management has a significant role in implementing TQM. Their commitment and personal involvement go a long way in defining clear and quality values and goals consistent with the business objectives.

Also, top management needs to create and utilize an integrated system and methods and performance metrics that define how goals are to be achieved.

Regular briefings about the processes around Total Quality Management between management and employees go a long way in guaranteeing the successful implementation of TQM.

Leadership brings to the entire TQM process by delegating a supervisor as a source of inspiration and assisting in the organization's decision-making processes.

Organizational Leadership - Traits of Effective Leadership
Source: SketchBubble

7. Communication

Communication is one element that binds all other elements together as it serves as an essential link between all elements of TQM.

This TQM element implies a proper and thorough understanding of ideas between both parties at the sending and receiving ends of the communication line. It has a huge role in guaranteeing the success of TQM.

All individuals involved in a company's processes or operations, including suppliers, customers, management, and employees, need regular communication for TQM to work effectively.

Top management must keep an open communication path where employees are free to communicate about the Total Quality Management process. Sharing correct information is equally as important as the communication process itself.

Communication needs to be credible and transparent, making it easy for the receiver to understand and interpret the information in the way the sender conveyed it. It helps get relevant information from employees and is an effective binding force.

By being in regular communication, employees get to identify problems in the system and devise practical solutions to counteract the effects of these identified problems or stop them before they can do any damage.

The best team communication tools are Monday.com, ClickUp, Wrike, Chanty, and Zoom.

Most populat communication platforms - Most Popular Management Platforms
Source: Expert Market

In TQM, there are three modes of communication, and they are:

Downward Communication

Downward communication is the most dominant mode of communication in every organization. It occurs through presentations and discussions among the company's employees and management.

In this form of communication, it is easier for supervisors to make TQM and its processes clear to employees.

Upward Communication

This form of communication allows lower-level employees to input and develop suggestions to upper management on how TQM affects the organization's processes and operations.

Upper management needs to keep an open ear and mind in listening to the suggestions and insights provided by their employees to be able to make corrections on the issues they identified. Doing so builds a level of trust between upper management and employees.

Sideways Communication

Sideways communication, also known as lateral or horizontal communication, helps break down barriers between departments and teams primarily caused by misunderstanding. It promotes a professional way of dealing with customers and suppliers.

Sideways Communication
Source: Pumble Blog

8. Recognition

Recognition is the last and final element in the entire TQM system. It works to provide suggestions and achievements for individuals and teams in general. Recognition is one element that both teams and employees strive to receive.

Management must detect and recognize employees and teams that contributed in one way or the other to the company's success.

TQM strikes to recognize and build long-term relationships with a few high-quality suppliers delivering high-quality products instead of suppliers with poor-quality products.

Recognition helps improve the self-esteem, productivity, and quality of activities in an organization and should be issued immediately after the employee or team acts.

This TQM element can also be the needed catalyst that spurs an employee or team to work particularly harder to deliver far and beyond the expectations required of them.

Recognition's incredible influence on workplace satisfaction
Source: Tiny Pulse

In Total Quality Management, recognition can come in several ways, such as a personal letter from management, award, plagues, trophies, performance boards, or a ceremony in front of other employees and management.

The most important thing is the timing, regardless of how recognition is given out or how elaborate or small it is. Recognition needs to be not far from where the action that earned the recognition was performed.

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Anastasia Belyh

Editor at FounderJar

Anastasia has been a professional blogger and researcher since 2014. She loves to perform in-depth software reviews to help software buyers make informed decisions when choosing project management software, CRM tools, website builders, and everything around growing a startup business.

Anastasia worked in management consulting and tech startups, so she has lots of experience in helping professionals choosing the right business software.