Organizations throughout the world are adopting Total Quality Management (TQM) principles as a strategy to ensure consistency in the delivery of excellent services and products. Arshad and Su (2015) define TQM as a firm-wide management philosophy adopted to ensure continuity in the production of high-quality goods and services. Interested organizations must incorporate the concept in every aspect of their operations, with a particular focus on meeting customers’ evolving needs and expectations. Kiran (2016) asserts that this quality improvement philosophy should be the cornerstone of every organizational process in firms that strive for customer satisfaction through consistency in quality improvements. However, the role of employees in actualizing TQM cannot be overemphasized, as it is workers who implement the philosophy. A critical review of quality improvement and management approaches adopted by the UAE’s Ministry of Finance, as can be deduced from employees’ interview responses, reveals a direct link between TQM and employee motivation.
Critical Assessment of Existing Literature
TQM should be an organization-wide philosophy, meaning that employees should have direct physical contact with the philosophy, which is evident from the various terms and phrases used for the same concept. O’Neill, Sohal, and Teng (2016) assert that alternative terminologies, such as total quality control, total quality improvement plan, total quality services, and total quality leadership, point to the human resources’ role in actualizing the TQM philosophy. The basic components of this quality management model are customer satisfaction and continuous improvement. Consolidating these three requires a participative system in which the management empowers workers to assume responsibility for consistent quality improvement in their respective areas of operation (Arshad and Su, 2015). Systems instituted to serve as the foundations of TQM must be thrilling from the employees’ perspective to receive the necessary support. Essentially, individual workers and teams must have a positive attitude towards the idea of continuous quality improvement and associated initiatives to embrace it.
The TQM philosophy was dominant among manufacturing companies at first, although it has since gained popularity in the service industry. Government agencies and private corporations are increasingly turning to TQM to position themselves as competitive players in various industries by guaranteeing a consistent delivery of quality products. Some common benefits of total quality control systems include improved customer satisfaction, efficient operational processes, positive employee relations, and increased financial returns (Kiran, 2016). The successful implementation may involve a complete cultural transformation to increase employee involvement throughout the organizational management levels. Arshad and Su (2015) assert that having a highly motivated and involved workforce is necessary for the successful implementation of a quality improvement plan. Employees working at different organizational levels feel appreciated and acknowledged by being involved in decisions touching their operation areas. The senior management might need to consult with junior workers when making major resolutions. As such, organizations must establish empowerment initiatives to motivate and create positive employees’ attitudes towards TQM.
Specific workplace conditions influence employees’ level of motivation and attitudes towards work. O’Neill, Sohal, and Teng (2016) assert that there are four basic indicators of employees’ attitudes towards work, which are job involvement, job satisfaction, task characteristics, and organizational commitment. Work attitudes and level of motivation are usually manifestations of job involvement, which refers to the extent to which employees identify with their jobs. Arshad and Su (2015) posit that employee attitudes towards work are a perfect reflection of the level of job satisfaction, motivation, and commitment to an organization. Nevertheless, the impact of TQM on employees’ attitudes and motivation can be measured through job involvement, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment lenses. Kiran (2016) notes that TQM practices increase job and career satisfaction, enhance job involvement, and precipitate greater organizational commitment. However, these outcomes can seldom be guaranteed unless organizations embrace a participative approach. In essence, a successful TQM system requires the combined effort of all parties involved in daily organizational operations from the senior managers to subordinate staff.
A Reflection Based on UAEs’ Ministry of Finance Case
The Ministry of Finance in the United Arab Emirates has been at the forefront in advocating for TQM as a strategy to guarantee an unmatched quality of services. Outcomes from interviews involving two employees revealed that the ministry has various initiatives designed to ensure continuity in the delivery of quality services. Important organization-level initiatives, such as quality planning activities and regular organizational reviews, facilitate the early detection of risks and threats that could compromise quality. Importantly, the ministry conducts regular internal and external assessments based on ISO certification standards, which ensures that the organization is consistently conformed to set quality standards. Nonetheless, employee empowerment programs and training workshops, which positively impact workers’ attitudes, supplement these structural-level initiatives for continuous improvements. Kiran (2016) posits that employees tend to develop a positive attitude towards their jobs if they are confident about their abilities to meet customers’ expectations. Hence, the ministry is assured of consistency in the delivery of quality services by having highly trained workers.
The management uses skills enhancement initiatives to help improve workers’ mastery of their jobs and maintain a sustained awareness of the need to incorporate quality in every aspect of the ministry’s operations. Employees feel appreciated because the ministry commits enough resources to training programs. In the ordinary scenario, employees in organizations that dedicate resources to training and skills enhancement programs tend to report higher levels of job satisfaction compared to those working in corporations that do not invest in their human resources (Kiran, 2016). Job satisfaction is a crucial antecedent of positive attitudes towards one’s work. The ministry’s employees report significantly high job satisfaction levels, which signify their positive attitudes towards work. The overall effect is an increase in productivity and higher efficiency achieved through a consistent focus on quality. These chain-like positive effects could seldom be realized without the ministry’s commitment to TQM.
The ministry’s organizational culture is centered on the openness and inclusion of employees in decision-making committees. Additionally, the ministry has a long tradition of involving employees in international delegations. These inclusions serve as a source of motivation and empowerment for enthusiasts willing to seize arising opportunities and voice their views and opinions on critical organizational matters. Notably, the management encourages young employees to assume major responsibilities, such as project management and team leadership roles. The sense of acknowledgment derived from inclusion in committees, delegations, and project leadership positions culminates in higher commitment levels among workers. Individuals feel empowered to learn that the organization trusts, appreciates, and acknowledges their capabilities, an important feeling cultivated through the delegation of important duties. In essence, the ministry’s approach to job involvement initiatives, which is a vital motivation factor among employees, results in an elevated sense of accomplishment and commitment to the organization.
In overview, it is apparent that TQM, a management philosophy centered on continuous quality improvement, is becoming increasingly popular in the manufacturing and services industries globally. Its benefits range from customer satisfaction to higher revenue returns for organizations and increased job satisfaction for employees. Those employees working in a company that incorporates quality control and improvement measures report high job satisfaction levels. Besides, such corporations, as in the case with the UAE’s Ministry of Finance, commit more resources to skills enhancement programs to ensure their workers have the necessary skills to deliver quality services consistently. Importantly, employees experience direct contact with their work results in organizations where performance goals are centered on quality and achievability. As a result, workers develop a positive attitude towards their jobs, resulting in improved productivity and high organizational commitment.
Arshad, A. M., and Su, Q. (2015) ‘Role of total quality management in service innovations: an empirical study of Pakistans financial services firms’, Journal of Applied Business Research (JABR), 31(3), pp. 891-910.
Kiran, D. R. (2016) Total quality management: key concepts and case studies. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.
O’Neill, P., Sohal, A. and Teng, C. W. (2016) ‘Quality management approaches and their impact on firms׳ financial performance–an Australian study’, International Journal of Production Economics, 171(1), pp. 381-393.