Many theorists have suggested that it is crucial to adequately train stuff in order to improve the overall quality of the service or product offered. Today employers are increasingly depending on the skills of all their employees for improvements in efficiency, quality and customer service (Motwani, Frahm, & Kathawala, 1994a). This review will focus on the findings of the main theorists in the quality management field and their views on the importance of employee training. It will outline the factors which influence employee training and suggest how quality training should be implemented. The review will also provide some insight into alternative methods of quality employee training.
The Importance of Training to Quality
Motwani, Frahm, & Kathawala (1994b) state that training is the critical variable in the success or failure of a company’s quality improvement programme. They go on to say that training enables a company’s workforce to acquire the skills needed to improve and maintain the quality production process. As the challenge of improving product and service quality becomes more important for all organizations so does the challenge to the training and development profession (Motwani, et al., 1994a). Motwani, et al., (1994a) agree with other authors such as Cocheu (1992) and Ishikawa (1976), that quality begins and ends with training. According to Kaeter and Cothran (1992), training influences the process that help to improve quality.
Ishikawa (1976) who has been a leader in stressing employee participation and the man who advocated the use of cause and effect diagrams (also known as ishikawa diagrams) to diagnose quality problems, has stressed that it is crucial to train managers and employees to improve quality. Deming (1982) notes that all employees should be trained continually as the needs of the customers are constantly changing over time. It is not enough to hire good people for the business organisation. They constantly have to acquire new skills for new materials and new methods of production. Deming (1982) considers training to be a long-term investment in people and the future of the company. Continuous training helps employees to improve their quality performance and the quality of the work processes they are responsible for (Deming 1982).
When identifying key practices of quality management, most authors agree that training is an important factor. Saraph, Benson & Schroeder (1989) list training as one of the eight critical factors of quality management. Lakhal, Pasin, & Limam (2006) go on to state that employee training and employee participation are two of the eight critical factors of quality management. Eight key employee practices to improve quality have also been suggested by Smith (2001) and they are: recruiting, selection, retention, teamwork, training and development, appraisal, rewarding quality and employee involvement.
Just knowing that training is important is not enough; training must also be effective (Cocheu, 1992). Cocheu (1992) proposes that to improve quality, organizations can use a six-step strategy, which includes:
5. Implementation, and
6. Continuous improvement.
This strategy should be supported by a six-phase training approach:
1. Understanding and commitment,
2. Quality management systems,
3. Improvement teams,
4. Customer service,
5. Process improvement, and
6. Advanced quantitative methods.
Each phase of the quality training curriculum should build on the preceding phase of the training to give people at every level of the organization the knowledge and skills they will need. This includes both the employees and the management. (Cocheu, 1992) The Importance of Management to Training
Most authors agree that quality management is crucial for the successful training of the employees. Without the wholehearted commitment of top management, spending time...