“Qualitize” is a word, at least you can find it in the “Urban Dictionary” (be careful what you look up there). It means “To Improve something, to make it Quality.” By that definition it’s the perfect description of our next Engager Dynamic.
Every organization is concerned with Quality. They have set standards by which they measure their products and/or services and/or processes. People are measured against certain behavioral and performance norms. Teams and departments have goals and metrics against which their performance is measured. Quality is about measuring actual things as compared to something else, usually an accepted standard. Quality, then, is the degree of excellence something or someone has compared to that standard.
Quality relates to Employee Engagement in that people want to be part of something they can be proud of. It goes a little deeper than just the overall quality of the product or service, though. People want to be part of a group (team, line, department, etc.) where they can count on every member to produce excellent work. For this reason the boss who is an Engager makes sure of three rules regarding Quality:
Clear Definition – the boss makes sure the standard by which Quality is measured is clear. S/he could use pictures of excellent work, displays, written descriptions, videos, etc. They may want to use a combination of these to be sure everyone is perfectly clear on the definition of “Excellent” work. What does it look like? Make sure the standards are high, standards that will cause people to stretch. Remember, the standard you walk past is the standard you set.
Consistent Standards – in order for Quality to be an engagement factor the standard has to be the same for everyone. This is an area where the intention to engage can go off the rails pretty quickly. Differing standards is a huge dis-engager for people. Any whiff of favoritism will send excellent performers away holding their noses.
Equal Accountability – this is closely related to number 2. Not only do the standards have to be the same for everyone. Every one has to be equally held to those standards. One of the most dis-engaging things a boss can do is let “slackers” get away with not holding up the standard. A boss who writes one person up for poor quality but lets another person get by with the same low quality is being incredibly disrespectful to the people who do excellent work.
On the other hand, when the standards are clear and consistent and when everyone is held equally accountable, each person’s performance tends to improve. It’s like when a good player is on a mediocre team. They may stand out and have good stats. But, if they move to a great team where other players are as good or better than them, they become better players. That’s the effect of engagement.
If you’re new to your role or you realize your approach to quality has been a dis-engager, take heart, you can make a positive impact on employee engagement. Try using the Engager Dynamic Solicit to identify two or three things that need improvement, things you could easily work on – low hanging fruit as they say. Work quickly to improve those areas. That’s what it means to “Qualitize,” to improve something, to make it Quality. If you do that, keeping in mind the three rules above, you will be an engager. There will be skepticism initially if quality has been dis-engaging in the past. There may even be resistance because people don’t like change, even good change sometimes. But, hang in there, if you remain consistent, they will come around and morale will improve and so will your quality scores because your people will be engaged.