Quality circle is a participant management method in which a team of employees works towards solving and defining a problem that is related to the performance or quality of a product.
It is an integral part of enterprise management where small teams of six to twelve members come forward voluntarily to form a quality control circle.
The group meet regularly and have discussions about quality problems. They are also responsible for investigating causes and suggesting viable solutions so that corrective actions can be undertaken.
Meaning of quality circle
Quality circle is defined as a group of workers, who work voluntarily to improve and develop products in an organization related to the production process, material wastage, quality of finished, semi-finished goods and raw materials, energy consumption, maintenance, safety, and delay.
It also solves problems related to any of them. Other names like often address the quality circle
- Productivity Circles
- Human Resources Circles
- Excellence Circles
- Action Circles
- Small Groups
7. Features of quality circle
- It is a voluntary group, and the initiative to join the quality circle rests with the interested party. People are invited to join the circle but not compelled or forced.
- The size varies from six to twelve members, although everyone belongs to a specific work area. Sometimes they consult specialists from other areas to gain his perspective and find appropriate solutions. Emphasizes on a small group to maintain harmonious relations and apt coordination between members.
- The meetings are held at periodic intervals to discuss and contemplate about the related issues. Sometimes it is a weekly activity, and at other times the timing can shift as per the requirement. It is the quality circle members who decide the frequency of the meeting and its timings to suit every member. Often it is the need of the hour that decides about the frequency and time limit of these meetings.
- An organization may have several quality circles depending upon its requirement. As it is a work-related group, more often, it is their supervisor who takes up the mantle of leadership.
- Every quality circle has its point of reference and problems and is restricted to its specific product or service. They do not interfere in the working of other quality circles.
- It is adept at solving issues and offering an apt solution. The quality circle collects data, identify and analyze, and lastly come to a solution after several discussions amongst the members. The final idea is presented to the management by the group and not the leader alone. The best thing about a quality circle is that it is a meticulously thought-about process and is rare for management to reject it out-of-hand.
- The quality circle, as the name suggests, identifies analyses, and solves related problems. The members arrange the meeting as per the demand and requirement.
Objectives of quality circle
- Identify and analyze problems
- Work towards the development and improvement of the organization
- Utilize and enhance human resources
- Improve the quality of products
- Reduce costs and enhance productivity
- Solve problems specific to a product or service
- Improve conflict and inter-personal resolution
- Utilize innovative and imaginative skills of an individual
- Developing work interest
- Job involvement
- Enhance problem-solving abilities
- Improve communication
- Promote leadership skills
- Promote personal development
- Reduce errors
- Promote cost reduction
- Participation in the management process
Structure of quality circle
1. Steering committee
It is headed by the senior executive and has representatives from human resources development and top-level personnel. The steering committee is the one that drafts and establishes various plans and policies in place and directs the program towards the right path.
The coordinator is generally the administrative officer who supervises the work and administer the program
He is the supervising officer who coordinates the working of numerous quality circles via the circle leaders
4. Circle leaders
He organizes the activities, gives direction to the members and conducts the activities of quality leaders
Duties of quality circle leader
- Guiding the members in the right direction
- Taking members in his confidence and sharing all the issues in an open communication
- Show confidence in own endeavors as well as the working of all the other members.
- Channelizing the discussions
- Allow all the members equal opportunities
- Assigning particular tasks to all the members
- Coordination with facilitator
Advantages of quality circle
- A quality circle generates creative ideas that result in an innovative solution
- It increases the productivity, production, and quality of products and services in an organization
- A quality circle is a happy group that works voluntarily. Its harmonious tendency is carried back to the organization
- Increases customer satisfaction as everyone is working to improve the quality of products and services
- Works towards reducing the production cost
- It brings a calm and soothing ambiance as it tries to identify and solve problems in an effective manner
- Quality circle offers motivation to other employees to work for the betterment of the organization and infuses team spirit
- Improves the image of employees as they are doing commendable work voluntarily for the betterment of the organization and ultimately, the workforce.
- Improves the ability of the members in making viable decisions
- Quality circle helps to improve communication in the organization
- It improves leadership skills and encourages problem-solving ability.
- Builds inner confidence and trust
- Enhances corporate pride because of the sense of belonging
- Works towards a better relationship between managers and employees.
Disadvantages of quality circle
- Operational problems in the organization can cause delays and ultimately fail the process maintained by the quality circle
- Lack of participation can cause the failure of a quality circle
- If the members are not suited and qualified for the post, it can result in wrong decisions
- It is important to keep a positive approach, but if any member is unable to maintain his equilibrium in case of adverse conditions then the quality circle will fail in its intentions
- As it is a voluntary group, a member can opt-out of it anytime
- In case the group has a strong-willed member he may try to roughshod over others
- Sometimes a quality circle may be involved in useless issues thus wasting time, energy and effort of the members
- It grabs the limelight and is often envied by other employees who do not have the time to join such circles
- It can cause issues with departmental managers as they do not like to see the quality circle gaining prominence and recognition
- The fluctuating demand for work can cause a problem in finding a convenient time for the meeting
- If the circle feels that the management is not listening to their suggestions, it can cause a dampening and demoralize effect on the members.
- Circle members – The members are the ones that make quality circle a possibility. Without them, there will be no circle or any related activities.
Developing a quality circle
1. Starting phase
It is important to make people in your organization aware of the concept of the quality circle. Everyone should have a basic knowledge about its implication and impact on the members as well as the company.
It becomes doubly important as participation is voluntary. Once people start understanding its basic concept only then will they show their enthusiasm in joining it? The company can play its part by offering required training to the interested person to hone and develop their participation skills.
2. Constitution of Quality circle
Quantity circle members belong to the same work area, and their participation is voluntary. The constitution includes steering committee, coordinators, facilitators, circle leaders, and circle members who work for the ultimate benefit of the company.
3. Initial problem-solving
Problem-solving includes data collection carried out via records, self-suggestions, and contacting employees. It also includes data analysis that establishes the reason for the issue.
Lastly is problem-solving, which involves the participation of members regularly so that they can put forward their suggestions and viable inputs.
4. Presentation and approval
The members as a whole present the solution to the management either orally or as a project report/assignment. The presentation improves communication between the workers and the management so that later on, they can work in tandem.
The final phase in developing a quality circle is the implementation. The relevant groups are assigned with vital activities depending upon the suggestions to form a viable quality circle.
Techniques used in a quality circle
This helps to stimulate the idea for decision making and stimulating creativity.
2. Cause and effect diagrams
Members identify the cause of the problem and its effect on the problem
3. Sampling and charting method
Members observe the events and charts the observations to get a clear idea of the problem.
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