What is the Definition of TQM?

The definition of TQM is a term created by the U.S. Navel Air Systems Command which describes their Japanese management approach to quality improvement.  

TQM stands for “Total Quality Management”. An organization uses TQM as a long term approach to achieving customer satisfaction. Total Quality Management requires all employees of the organization for improving the products, processes and services. All employees, no matter what role, are responsible for quality and quality assurance. When done correctly, the entire business culture is TQM.

By applying TQM principles and putting the ISO 9001 systems in place, ISO 9001 certification is easily achieved.

The definition of TQM is based on the fact that seven main components must be grounded in the foundation of your organization. In order to provide quality services and products to your customers, focus your efforts on these components.

  1. Organization
  2. Total Employee Involvement
  3. Customer Focused
  4. Integrated Systems
  5. Strategic Planning
  6. Process Improvement
  7. Communication

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Employees demonstrate mutual trust, fairness, reliability, and support to each other. Employees work with openness and freedom from fear. All employees focus efforts on improvement.

Management creates an environment where there is no fear. Management wants to hear about problems and resolve the problems. When there are problems, no one shoots the messenger.

Management does not punish employees for making mistakes. They recognize that people make mistakes and teach employees to learn from thier mistakes. Management learns from the mistake too! Top management improves systems to eliminate future mistakes.

Total Employee Involvement

Employees work together to achieve the organization goals. This is critical to the definition of TQM. This commitment can only happen if fear has been removed from the workplace.

Management empowers their employees to make decisions.

Management provides high performance work systems to drive continuous improvement. These systems include centralizing data collection and making sound choices on that data.

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Customer Focus

Quality is defined by the customer. The customer always drives your continuous improvement efforts. To satisfy customer needs, quality is built into the design and development process. If the product does not meet the customer needs, the customer will not purchase it.

Integrated Systems

Systems are linked to each other. The product is not produced without supporting systems. These systems include administrative and manufacturing. Take a look at the process interaction chart for clarification on this.

The integrated systems assures sound communication between all employees. The definition of TQM depends on integrated systems. The ISO 9001 standard requires systems to be integrated and requires a interaction chart.

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Strategic Planning

This is a systematic approach to meeting your organizations’ visions, missions, and goals. These do not happen organically. Your organization must create and follow a plan to achieve these. The plan must be followed by all employees. In a ISO 9001 company much of the planning occurs during the quality management review.

Strategic planning focuses on customer needs. Senior management drives the quality goals, strategies and plans. All management drives the actions and not just quality assurance professionals.

Process Improvement

All employees are responsible for continuous improvement. Management drives the process improvement. The end result is customer satisfaction.

Continuous improvement is fundamental to the definition of TQM and must be part of your Quality Policy.


Effective communication motivates employees, maintains morale, and ensures competent controlled change. All of the above elements must be communicated to all employees through effective training.

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Definition of TQM Difficulties

Total Quality Management can be difficult to achieve. Before implementing a TQM program a company must understand that

  • his is not a phase. It is permanent
  • If you fail, it can have long lasting damage to the employees morale
  • It may take up to 5 years to fully become a TQM company.
  • It requires full cooperation and commitment from all managers. This includes from the owner to all line managers
  • It is a culture change. The old ways of management disappear

What are the barriers to implementing TQM?

  • Lack of management commitment
  • Company culture cannot change
  • Plans are not well thought out.
  • Poor measurement techniques
  • Lack of teamwork.
  • Focus on short term profits
  • High employee turnover
  • Lack of training. No one to lead the company through the process
  • Management does not reward success
  • Employees are fearful of losing their jobs.

Total Quality Management Influence

The definition of TQM considers employees in an organization keeps opinions, beliefs, and practices concerning quality. To influence employees to change we have to understand (assess) the current company's quality culture. Management uses questionnaires and focus groups to assessing the quality culture.

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To assesses company quality culture we have to ask 7 questions:

1- To what degree you feel that you understand your role to providing good quality?

2- To what degree are you familiar with the company's emphasis on quality?

3- To what degree do you agree with the statement "my manager's action and attitude convince me that quality is important"

4- To what degree do you understand how to measure quality in your department?

5- How do you rate your department on providing high quality service and output?

6- To what degree do you think that achieving quality objectives affect your performance appraisal?

7- Have you work in a quality circle or quality improvement team in the last 12 months?

For the above questions , your 4 choices: High 

  • Moderate
  •  Low
  •  Not at All

Choose one for every question. Then you can see the overall conclusion of your company quality culture.

Skills you must know to guide the TQM Influence plan:

1- Team formation.

2- Change management.

3- Motivation and influence.

4- Negotiation.

5- Resolving conflict.

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What Do You Know About TQM?

Do you have experience (good or bad) with TQM? Or A question about TQM? If it is a question, please let us know your answer / thoughts too.

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Other Visitors TQM Comments

Click the below links to see the comments and to reply.

Winning and longevity 
Why would a company that is turning out a satisfactory product want to continually examine its processes and work environment? QAS Home > TQM …

What are the six sigmas in tqm? 
What are the six sigmas in TQM? how does it helps in an organization QAS Home > TQM > Six Sigmas in TQM

How TQM works in warehouse operation? 
Can we apply TQM in warehouse management? How does TQM helps in the warehouse operations in order to be more efficient? QAS Home > TQM > …

How To Start TQM Program? 
five concept for an effective tqm QAS Home > TQM > How to Start TQM Program?

How is the TQM applied in the banking industries? 
When applying total quality management in the banking organisations, how do we go about to ensure that a perfect and accepted total quality control is …

TQM -From Management to Leadership 
In TQM we speak about leadership, yet there is a need for management in an organisation. What you think !!! QAS Home > TQM > Management …

Impact on customer satisfaction of the implementation of TQM  
what would be the impact on customer satisfaction of the implementation of TQM in hospital. QAS Home > TQM > TQM in a Hospital

How TQM works in sales operations? 
The implementation of TQM in sales QAS Home > TQM > How TQM Works in Sales Operations?

Challenges of TQM in service organisations 
Well i would like to know what are challenges that one might encounter in try to implement TQM in service organisations and how can they be overcomed. …

What is Total Quality Management in HR? 
I want to get clear about the relation between TQM and HR. How can we implement TQM in HR. QAS Home > TQM > TQM in HR

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