What is Quality Circle?
A Quality Circle is a small group of employees within an organization who voluntarily come together to identify, analyze, and solve work-related problems and improve processes, products, or services. Quality Circles are a participatory management approach that empowers frontline workers to contribute to quality improvement initiatives and share their insights and expertise.
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W. Edwards Deming, who marked the beginning of the quality control revolution in Japan, brought the concept of quality control from the United States to Japan. As Japanese corporations became more cognisant of quality control, they employed statistical quality control to inspire their staff to produce high-quality products. Quality circles, which are still in use today, were one of the strategies utilised by these corporations to improve the quality of not just their products but also their staff.
A quality circle is a group of workers and managers that work in the same or similar departments and gather regularly to discuss and analyse manufacturing issues (for roughly an hour per week in paid time) and discover solutions to quality issues. Members of QCs feel as they are a vital part of the organisation and can positively contribute to product quality, which improves productquality and the work environment. Though the notion of QCs originated in the manufacturing industry, it is now frequently used in the service industry (banking, insurance, etc.) as well.
Quality circles are brief discussions held regularly to assist in the resolution of work-related issues.
- The meeting is held during working hours, and 5-10 individuals attend
- A supervisor is appointed, and he is in charge of the meeting.
- Flip charts, audio-visual equipment, notice boards and other similar tools are used.
- The group proposes potential problem areas.
- Issues are ranked in order of importance.
- Through brainstorming and force-field analysis, data is gathered and ideas are formed.
- Efficiency, expenses, savings, and implications for other departments are all taken into account.
- The quality circle group presents the final solution to the management and implements it
The most well-known example is Toyota, where circles continue to meet on a regular basis to identify potential problems and get them resolved as efficiently as possible. Nowadays, many companies today use quality circles especially when it comes to manufacturing.
These quality circles meet to:
- Discuss best work practices
- Point out issues
- Collaborate on solutions
- Brainstorm ideas
- Streamline problem solving
Objectives of Quality Circles
The following are quality circles’ objectives:
- To increase the product quality
- To boost the company’s productivity
- To develop in employees a belief that they can fix their difficulties
- To enhance employee morale
- To increase employee job satisfaction
- To help employees develop their personalities by emphasising their value in the workplace and fostering a positive work environment
- To improve the management-worker interpersonal relationship
- To increase staff motivation and communication inside the company
Benefits of Quality Circles
Quality circles provide the following advantages:
- They systematically concentrate on product quality
- They teach employees how to spot problems, find solutions, and put them into action without consulting technical experts.
- They meet members’ higher-order demands for self-actualisation and recognition.
- They increase members’ involvement in work-related issues and their job satisfaction.
- They encourage product productivity, efficiency, cost-cutting, design, testing, and safety, among other things.
- Employees are not burdened with analysing and fixing their problems because teaching is done casually. Rather, they are compelled to provide recommendations to management.
Factors to Make Quality Circles Effective
If quality circles are framed with the following characteristics in mind, they will be effective in attaining the goals:
- They begin by analysing little issues before progressing to larger issues.
- Being a member of the QCs is a choice, not a must if you want to get the most out of them.
- Informally, members of the QC are taught the fundamentals of problem-solving approaches.
- Supervisors review each member’s solution for resolving the problem before it is implemented.
- Rather than delegating QC duties entirely to employees, management encourages them.
- Members are acknowledged for their contributions to resolving organisational issues.