Quality Circle

What is Quality Circle (QC) ?

A quality circle is referred to a collection of six to eight workers of an organization who voluntarily participate to form a group under the supervision of a skilled foreman or section head. As the membership is voluntary, no incentive is given for joining, no punishment is imposed for the non-participation, and there is no compulsion join it. The desire to come up with something innovative is the only driving force behind the formation of this type of group. Its are held meetings are during the working hours on the monthly or fortnightly basis with an objective to scrutinize the issues related to the work which influence the quality of production. 

The quality circles are supposed to advise the administration with the likely solutions to resolve these issues. To fulfill this objective, a prior training regarding fundamental techniques of statistics, problem-solving, and group management is given to the foremen. A quality circle has its own guidelines, picks up the issues which are not of personal nature and comes up with the suggestions for resolving them. Thus it can be said that, it does what it is supposed to do instead of doing something which is imposed on it by the external environment.

Definition of Quality Circle

According to Joel E. Ross and William C. Rossm :
"Quality circle is defined as a small group of employees doing similar or related work who meet regularly to identify, analyze, and solve product quality and production problems and to improve general operations. The circle is a relatively autonomous unit (ideally about ten workers), usually led by a supervisor or a senior worker and organized as a work unit".

According to Michael Armstrong :
"Quality circles are groups of workers, usually led by their supervisor, who meet voluntarily and often in their own time to discuss the problems they face in achieving quality, or some other important target. The circle is given. training in problem-solving techniques and the resources to solve the problems it identifies".

According to Quality Circle Forum of India, Secundrabad :
"Quality circle is a voluntary group of people who meet together on a regular basis to identify, analyze and solve quality, productivity, cost reduction, safety and other problems in their work area leading to improvement in their performance and enrichment of their work life".

Objectives of Quality Circles 

Quality circle has the following objectives :
  1. To contribute towards the improvement and development of the organization by enhancing its quality and output.
  2. To bring down the cost of production by improvisation in methods of production, enhancement of safety measures, reduction of wastage, elimination of as many flaws and faults as possible, and optimum utilization of resources. 
  3. To recognize and resolve the issues related with the work that hinders the productivity. 
  4. To bring out the creativity of the workers of the organization and thus make the optimum utilization of the manpower..
  5. To allow the workers to grow and utilize a wide range of knowledge, skills, and expertise. And also encourage them to implement the same in order to overcome several challenges.
  6. To encourage interaction and reduce communication gaps inside the organization. 
  7. To boost the devotion and dedication of the workers towards the organization and towards its objectives. 
  8. To give respect to humanity and to establish a conducive, pleasurable, and purposeful working atmosphere.
  9. To develop the ability, self-esteem, mind-set, and relationships of human resource.
  10. To fulfill the desire of the human resource for identification, accomplishments, and personal growth.

Structure of Quality Circle 

The success of QC lies in its suitable organizational structure, which varies from business-to-business and from firm-to-firm. But a primary structure of QC is utilitarian. Following are the constituents of this basic structure or quality circle steps :

Process / structure of quality circle

1) Top Management : 
It is quite essential for the top management to provide the requisite support needed to ensure smooth functioning of QC. They should also attend the presentations and other key activities. By doing so, they can make sure that the participants feel their support.

2) Steering Committee : 
The steering committee refers to a counselling committee, in which head of the firm acts as Chairman and head of different divisions play the role of members. This is the top most body of the department, which keeps an eye on the working of quality circle of a particular department and plays the role of counselling authority. The Departmental Head is the leader of the committee and the meeting of the con committee is held the minimum of one time in every two or three months by the Chief Executive of that department. The head and facilitator of other departments are the special guests in such meetings.

3) Facilitator : 
Management has the right to nominate the facilitator. Major chances are that the facilitator is generally a senior officer of the department. The responsibility of establishing and giving directions for the working of quality circle in the organization lies with him. He is also supposed to influence and motivate other officials to give support to the actions of quality circle and increase their participation.

4) Leader : 
The members of the quality circle. choose a leader from the group, who can either be a supervisor or a foreman. The leader can be changed after the completion of a project so that every member would get the opportunity to act as a leader. The leader plays a primary role and is accountable for the performance of his quality circle.

5) Members : 
The members of the QC are 5 to 8 workers, who are either from a similar workplace or who do the identical task. They establish the quality circle at their own will. They act as enduring members of the group and their relationship terminates only if they do not continue in the same working area. The endeavor of the members is to ensure efficiency in the working of the quality circle and their objective is to ensure constant improvement in the working of quality circle in every possible ways.

6) Non-Members : 
Non-member employees are those employees who actually execute the suggestions coming from the circle for bringing about improvement. Hence, they are important component of the circle.

7) Coordinating Agency : 
All the actions of quality circles in an organization are coordinated by the agencies known as coordinating agencies. At the preliminary stage when there are only few circles, only one person can play this role but with the growth in the number of QC and growth in their activities, a separate body has to be established for this purpose.

Advantages of Quality Circles

The benefits of QC are as follows : 

1) Work Group : 
A QC is useful for the work group in the following ways : 
  • An optimistic atmosphere, which fosters team spirit, is established. 
  • Members start feeling as a part of the company, which gives way to better job satisfaction.
  • It enhances the morale and self-esteem of the members as they feel that their ideas are vital. 
  • The members of the group develop a sense of dedication towards their group as well as towards their work.
  • The members of the group make efforts to enhance quality of their own professional life.
  • The interpersonal as well as technical skills of the workers are enhanced. 
  • The members of the group can secure their jobs.
  • The ways to resolve the group conflicts are also formulated.

2) Management :
The QC is useful for the management in the following ways : 
  • Quality circle brings relief to the management by solving the problem before it becomes worse. 
  • Better quality and enhanced output are secured by the managers. 
  • More efficient workers are available to help the managers in the attainment of organizational goals.
  • Managers face lesser number issues related to grievances. conflicts, unpunctuality, absenteeism, and other issues which adversely affect the productivity. 
  • A relationship of mutual trust is established between the managers and members of the group.
  • The training and experience of QC widens the knowledge and develop the skills of the managers and their subordinates.
  • It gives way to opening and smooth of functioning of various channels communication.

3) Organization : 
The QC is useful for the organization in the following ways : 
  • The work performance of entire organization is enhanced, which advances the process of achieving organizational goals. 
  • It leads to better working abilities of the managers as well as their juniors.
  • Every person concerned with the organization makes effort for improvement in some or the other aspects.
  • The workers have better job satisfaction and hence the number of human resource complaints declines.
  • The morale and self-confidence of the workers is enhanced.
  • The focus of everybody is on working thoroughly and enhancing quality..
  • There is better synchronization and coordination between the management and the groups of workers.
  • The execution and maintenance of quality circles is comparatively cost-effective and thus saves a lot of funds.

Disadvantages of Quality Circles

There are a number of problems related to QC, which are as follows :

1) Lack of Correct Attitude : 
The foremost problem regarding QC is that the managers and workers do not have a proper attitude required for it.

2) Lack of Appropriate Level of Education : 
In India the major problem of QC is that the workers are not properly educated and they do not have required leadership skills

3) Late Execution : 
The ideas suggested by QC are not executed on time, which in turn can adversely affect its functioning.

4) Disturbance by Non-Members : 
The disturbance by non-members can create nuisance which can hinder the working of quality circle.

5) Problems Related to its Operations : 
Sometimes the members are not allowed to conduct meetings during working hours, sometimes the meetings are not held at regular. intervals, etc., are some of the problems related to functioning of Quality Circle.

6) Lack of Top Management Support : 
At times, the QC is not able to acquire the support from top management, though it is supported by the lower level management. But, lack of proper training and lack of support of top management can only lead to the failure of quality circle.