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Improving Engagement per ISO 9001:2015

Would you rather be on a team where everyone gets the vision, goals are achieved, and improvements iterate continually? Or on a team where tasks are done because they’re mandated, and no one knows or cares why?  ISO 9000:2015 contains a guiding principle called Engagement of People, which means shifting culture from “do-it” to “let’s do-it.” Here are some ways to apply it:

  • Measure and report results, before and after process changes - so people learn the benefits and reasons for revised activities. Various tools like DMAIC  (define, measure, analyze, improve, control) and Design of Experiments include current state and future state expectations, and evidence that signals effectiveness of proposed changes. Good decisions and communicating results to line employees, creates engagement instead of confusion.

  • Engage line employees in reviewing process documents annually –  after all, they’re responsible for following them, and they’re usually the first ones who know when details are unclear or have changed, and why.

  • Include line employees and internal auditors (not just quality and leadership) in teams that determine causes and solutions for rejects or corrective actions in their department. When they understand the risks and contribute to the solution, improvements become permanent.

  • Keep internal auditors impartial – ensure they audit departments they don’t work in. Being impartial helps them see what department members miss. Auditing outside one’s own department can also deepen understanding of related processes and the overall system, and improve interdepartmental cooperation. 

  • Reward and recognize employee suggestions/ideas/feedback that contribute to improvements.  Encourage risk-based thinking and communication, not behind the scenes patches for processes that don’t work. 

  • Celebrate every improvement: Even something simple like following a new process, requires acknowledgement to cement it. Mark Twain once said, “I can live for a month on a sincere compliment.” Our employees are probably not much different. 


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