Role of HRD in a Quality Improvement Effort

There really are three roles for HRD in a quality-improvement effort. First and most obvious is the education and training role. HRD is the natural re¬source for communicating management’s commitment to quality “to the troops” and shaping the skills of the work force. Crosby sees three educational roles in a quality-improvement program.

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1. Orientation to the concepts and procedures of quality, the problems that have a harmful effect on the product and the expectations of the customer.

2. Direct improvement in such specific things as soldering, bellhop-ping, computer programming, telephone handling, and so on.

3. A continual but low-level bar¬rage of quality idea communications to serve as reminders and conditioning, to make quality a thought always in everyone’s mind.

The second role we see for HRD is as part of the error analysis, standards and procedures team. Few, if any, engineers have had the intense training and experience with work and human factors that trainers have.

Engineers and others in manufacturing tend to lack the ability to sort reinforcers and punishers in job design. Volunteering HRD representation on all key problem-solving/problem-analysis teams puts you out front when a legitimate educational need arises and keeps you out of the business of building reactive and possibly inappropriate training solutions.

And, finally, there is the “designing-work – as – if – people – mattered” role. Procedure developers and job de¬signers are great at figuring out what operations must be done but they often fail to put those operations together in a way real people can do them.

Another important part of this role is troubleshooting the feedback and incentive systems designed to grease the wheels and give the system information and impetus to improve.

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Information that people can’t under-stand isn’t information: it’s paper, numbers, charts, graphs and garbage. And incentives that don’t motivate aren’t incentives. Because of HRD’s proximity to real people, those who actually do the work, we have a good vantage point for viewing the effectiveness of these systems and provid¬ing corrective information to management.

Crosby suggests that management has to work very hard to ob¬tain unvarnished truth about how things are going for an improvement project. “Once you put on a suit, no one tells you the truth anymore,” he wryly suggests. The role of truth teller is an important HRD possibility.

Finally, HRD must make quality a positive part of its own goals. Dr. David Campbell, the goal-setting ex¬pert, says, “One of the most important and well-established psychological findings is that we tend to perform at about the same level as those people who are close to us.

In some places, people expect a great deal from each other, they stimulate each other, they encourage each other, they urge each other on to greater heights of achievement.”

If HRD has one implicit role, it is as a model of expectations. When people attend our programs or work with us on task force or committee assignments, they judge us not only by what we achieve but by the expectations we set for ourselves and others.

In the programs we produce, in the way we deal with others, in the cooperation and openness we exhibit and in the ideas we bring to problem solving, excellence must be our quality of expectation and perfection our standard. After all, we can’t give away what we don’t truly own.

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Source : TRAINING Magazine