From education to employment

Leading a quality culture – development of a Whole Organisation Approach

Gareth Saldhana-Fallows FIEP, Chief Executive of Acorn Training Ltd

As organisations grow and structures become more defined, an effective quality management system becomes much more important in establishing a quality culture. Sir Bernard O’Connell, the former principal of Runshaw College, who wrote the book ‘How to Create an Outstanding College’, says that a positive organisation culture is the key ingredient in ensuring Outstanding provision.

The first element in leading a whole organisation approach to quality management is the development of robust systems and processes in order to provide structure and defined ways of working. This provides consistency and facilitates the boundaries for effective communication and team working; however, organisation design within a bureaucratic structure often leads to ineffective silo working, which can impact on effective cross contract and cross team working within employability and skills organisations.

This highlights the importance of developing cross team working in the development of process design or process re-engineering. Many leaders fall into the trap when designing new ways of working as they fail to undertake a consultative approach to designing processes which creates resistance; this is also the same with partnership working. It is really positive to see that all prime providers successful in achieving a position on the CAEHRS agreements, are instituting a consultative approach in new programme design.

The next stage in working towards a whole organisation approach (and when we talk about a whole organisation approach, this includes

the work of subcontractors and partners within a supply chain) Sir Bernard O’ Connell highlights the importance of strong performance management techniques, but further highlights that performance management can only be effective if the firm foundations of process design provide the framework and structure in order to performance manage.

There are a range of performance management techniques used within the employability sector and one of the most popular is the use of a balanced score card framework. A balanced scorecard breaks down performance into four key areas: profitability, customer satisfaction, effective processes and innovation. Performance management is often seen as a taboo subject; however, used positively, it can motivate, inspire and enable impact.

The final stage of the whole organisation approach to achieving outstanding quality, according to Sir Bernard O’Connell, is to embed quality into the organisation’s culture. Culture is defined by academics as being a living and breathing object and the heart, signs and symbols of an organisation. Quality is not just the responsibility of managers, or in more developed organisations, quality teams and auditors. To truly achieve a whole organisation approach to quality, it is important that all staff members aspire to achieve, all of the time, the best possible job they can do and to have a “can do” attitude, whilst being supportive and challenging any negative behaviours themselves within their own teams. It’s important to highlight and reinforce the positive aspects of good quality, celebrate achievement and best practice. This can be achieved in various ways, such as, peer mentoring, workplace coaching, identification of role models and buddies within the workplace to continually develop practice and innovation.

In conclusion a whole organised approach towards outstanding provision takes a three-pronged attack of developing strong processes, systems and procedures, with an effective performance management framework embedded within an organisation’s culture, or as may be the case a supply chain or partnership’s culture.

Gareth Saldhana-Fallows FIEP, Chief Executive of Acorn Training Ltd

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