Everyone realizes the value of motivated, quality-oriented employees. Employees who consistently work to improve their individual processes; team players who work to benefit the organization as a whole. Organizations that implement the principles of quality are creating an environment that can provide job satisfaction and motivation.

Managers worry about motivating their employees - what does it take to provide job satisfaction and ensure a job well done? Getting employees "turned on" has become a major industry. Speakers on the subject offer tapes, films, counseling and many other types of support. For the most part, the material is useful and the individuals are sincere. People go into an upbeat phase as a result - at least temporarily. However, we must ask ourselves, "Why do we need a special program to motivate our people? Didn't we hire motivated employees in the first place?"It's a familiar scene. Newly hired, eager-to-please employees become either complacent or jaded over time - and not quite so thrilled with the company, or the job. And as malaise sets in, someone in management decides that the employees need better communication and support. A search is conducted for programs to use. The result of this search often centers around "quality of work life" or quality circles. And there is nothing harmful about these programs. The problem is that they focus on effects, rather than causes. The chrome, if you will, rather than the engine.

What is it that motivates employees and provides job satisfaction anyway? Where does quality fit in? A survey published in a prominent news magazine of 383 top and middle managers reveals that employees are motivated by the following:

1. Challenging work.

2. My opinion matters when decisions are made.

3. Recognition when I've done a job well.

4. Pay clearly tied to performance.

5. Working for a company I can be proud of.

6. Good, fair performance measures. 7. Autonomy on the job.

7. Autonomy on the job.

8. Competitive salary.

9. Clear performance measures.

10. Opportunity to learn on the job.

11. Clear career opportunities.

12. Harmonious relationships with my co-workers.

13. Job security.

14. Generous benefit program.

15. Special incentives.

Job satisfaction is related to three areas: Self-fulfillment - the satisfaction of doing a good job; team fulfillment - belonging to a winning organization; and having input in the process - the ability to direct and control your own job.

Motivation is tied to creativity and rewards. For example, an employee may be more likely to put forth additional effort if allowed to creatively solve problems and improve processes. Rewards, including cash and benefits, as well as self-fulfillment, help reinforce motivation. Another related area, accountability, is also important as it requires the employee has responsibility and control over the job and can in some ways determine its processes.

How can the principles of quality be used to ensure motivation and job satisfaction? Quality deals with root issues, the ultimate goal being zero defects in every process throughout the organization. Zero defects is achieved by defining, understanding, communicating and meeting the requirements for a process between customers and suppliers. These customers exist both within and outside the organization. Quality also requires a system of prevention, to keep defects from occurring.

Unlike old styles of management, an organization which follows these principles of quality looks at the process rather than the individual when effecting change. Assuming the organization hires qualified, capable individuals that are already motivated, most problems can be prevented by examining the processes and individual requirements of the job.

Identifying requirements up front - from the basic tools and equipment to procedures such as the approval from a supervisor before continuing on the next step - gives the individual control and responsibility over the job. Each employee is both a customer and a supplier and requirements from both sides must be determined and met. What does a computer programmer need, for example, to write a system? As a customer, the programmer requires information from the client. What will the program be used for? What capabilities are necessary? Who will be using it? What is the budget and deadline? As a supplier, the programmer is responsible for producing the program to meet the client's requirements.

Teamwork is another important part of the quality process. Teamwork improves employee motivation and job satisfaction because it encourages cooperation between individuals or groups within an organization. It also communicates the need for improvement and the status of improvement efforts. It allows employees at all levels of the organization to provide input and can bring together unique knowledge and skills of each individual.

Measurement of goals, another branch of quality, is also related to motivation and job satisfaction. Measurement turns over responsibility of improvement to the individual, clearly a challenge in any job. It also brings recognition (and appreciation) to the individual when goals are met.

Prevention is simply the process of causing something not to happen. Quality-oriented companies implement prevention by improving work processes to eliminate non-conformance. Management that encourages employees to take an active part in the prevention process stimulates creativity, as well as self and team fulfillment.

The principles of quality, combined with a progressive, creative management encourages individuals to take responsibility for their own processes. This lays the groundwork for a winning organization. The key is to implement the principles of quality first, then job satisfaction and motivation will follow. Many old-style managers will laugh (or shudder) at such a simplistic approach, and the truth is, quality doesn't happen overnight. Quality improvement, much like career growth in an individual, is a dynamic, long-term process. Taken seriously it may sputter and stall from time to time, but over the months and years it will flourish.



What motivates employees?

- Challenging work.

- Opinion matters when decisions are made.

- Recognition for a job well done.

- Pay clearly tied to performance.

- Working for a company to be proud of.

- Good, fair performance measures.

- Autonomy on the job.

- Competitive salary.

- Clear performance measures.

- Opportunity to learn on the job.

- Clear career opportunities.

- Harmonious relationships with co-workers.

- Job security.

- Generous benefit program.

- Special incentives.