A quality circle is a volunteer group composed of workers , usually under the leadership of their supervisor , who are trained to identify, analyze and solve work-related problems and present their solutions to management in order to improve the performance of the organization, and motivate and enrich the work of employees. When matured, true quality circles become self-managing, having gained the confidence of management.
Participative management technique within the framework of a company wide quality system in which small teams of (usually 6 to 12) employees voluntarily form to define and solve a quality or performance related problem. In Japan (where this practice originated) quality circles are an integral part of enterprise management and are called quality control circles.
"A Quality Circle is volunteer group composed of members who meet to talk about workplace and service improvements and make presentations to their management with their ideas." (Prasad, L.M, 1998).
Quality circles enable the enrichment of the lives of the workers or students and creates harmony and high performance. Typical topics are improving occupational safety and health, improving product design, and improvement in the workplace and manufacturing processes.
These are related especially to the quality of output or services in order to improve the performance of the organization / department and motivate and enrich the work of employees. This group carries on continuously as a part of organization-wide control activities, self and mutual developments and control and improvement within the workplace utilizing quality control techniques with all the members participating. Generally six to twelve volunteers from the same work area make up a circle. The members receive training in problem solving, statistical quality control and group processes. Quality Circle generally recommends solutions for quality and services which may be implemented by the management. Thus Quality Circle is not merely a suggestion system or a quality control group but extends beyond that because its activities are more comprehensive. Furthermore, it is not a taskforce because it can be made a permanent feature of the organization or a department.
Quality Circles (QC) or Quality Control Circles (QCC) : History
- Pioneered by Japanese.
- Japanese nomenclature: Quality Control Circles (QCC), generally now known as Quality Circles (QC) or some call it as Small Group Activity (SGA).
- 1962: First QC Circle was registered with QC Circle Head Quarters in Japan.
- 1974: Lockheed Company, USA started Quality Circle movement.
- 1977: International Association of Quality Circles (IACC) was formed in USA.
- 1980: BHEL, Hyderabad first in India to start Quality Circles.
- 1982: Quality Circle Forum of India (QCFI) was founded.
"Chorei" is a common morning meeting ritual in Japanese organizations. Each work day begins with a meeting where employees stand in a circle and share their day's work agenda or project status. Chorei is a cultural export in the expanding global economy. Practitioners of chorei believe this type of meeting technique can help improve communication resulting in better productivity.
There are various forms and styles of participative management. One of them which is widely applied and practised is ‘Quality circles’. The ‘quality circle’ concept first originated in USA which was very successfully applied in Japan afterwards. This technique boosted the Japanese firms to endeavour for high quality products at low costs.
Objectives of Quality Circle
The perception of Quality Circles today is 'Appropriateness for use1 and the tactic implemented is to avert imperfections in services rather than verification and elimination. Hence the attitudes of employees influence the quality. It encourages employee participation as well as promotes teamwork. Thus it motivates people to contribute towards organizational effectiveness through group processes. The following could be grouped as broad intentions of a Quality Circle:
- To contribute towards the improvement and development of the organization or a department.
- To overcome the barriers that may exist within the prevailing organizational structure so as to foster an open exchange of ideas.
- To develop a positive attitude and feel a sense of involvement in the decision making processes of the services offered.
- To respect humanity and to build a happy work place worthwhile to work.
- To display human capabilities totally and in a long run to draw out the infinite possibilities.
- To improve the quality of products and services.
- To improve competence, which is one of the goals of all organizations.
- To reduce cost and redundant efforts in the long run.
- With improved efficiency, the lead time on convene of information and its subassemblies is reduced, resulting in an improvement in meeting customers due dates.
- Customer satisfaction is the fundamental goal of any library. It will ultimately be achieved by Quality Circle and will also help to be competitive for a long time.
BENEFITS OF QUALITY CIRCLES
There are no monetary rewards in the QC’s. However, there are many other gains, which largely benefit the individual and consecutively, benefit the business. These are:
- Self-development: QC’s assist self-development of members by improving self-confidence, attitudinal change, and a sense of accomplishment.
- Social development: QC is a consultative and participative programme where every member cooperates with others. This interaction assists in developing harmony.
- Opportunity to attain knowledge:QC members have a chance for attaining new knowledge by sharing opinions, thoughts, and experience.
- Potential Leader: Every member gets a chance to build up his leadership potential, in view of the fact that any member can become a leader.
- Enhanced communication skills:The mutual problem solving and presentation before the management assists the members to develop their communication skills.
- Job-satisfaction: QC’s promote creativity by tapping the undeveloped intellectual skills of the individual. Individuals in addition execute activities diverse from regular work, which enhances their self-confidence and gives them huge job satisfaction.
- Healthy work environment: QC’s creates a tension-free atmosphere, which each individual likes, understands, and co-operates with others.
- Organizational benefits: The individual benefits create a synergistic effect, leading to cost effectiveness, reduction in waste, better quality, and higher productivity.