ISO 9001:2015 – Is your “Bigger picture” visible? – The role of top management in communication.

Welcome back to another blog related to quality management topics. In this instalment we will take a look at one of the key concepts of ISO 9001:2015 – the role of top management in communication as part of the implementation and maintenance of and effective and compliant quality management system.

In today’s ever evolving workplace it’s not enough to just expect employees to turn up, do the work and go home, unfortunately the sad reality is that this may be the case in many workplaces, but does this approach really lend itself to an engaged and motivated workforce? In short, NO!

The great news is that ISO 9001:2015 was developed to aid businesses to avoid the afore mentioned disengagement by ensuring that communication and the role of top management plays in it, are one of the critical factors in successfully implementing an ISO 9001:2015 compliant quality management system with an informed, involved and hopefully an engaged workforce.

ISO 9001:2015 places much greater emphasis on an organisation’s top management to communicate with their employees, for example;

The overall aim of the standard is to ensure that top management is actively involved in maintaining open and effective channels of communication. As in any other setting, communication needs to be bi-directional so that that top management not only communicate appropriate and relevant information out to their employees but have also established methods for employees to communicate back to their organisations leadership team. This bi-directional communication is one method for top management to share the strategy, vision, successes and failures of the company which in turn then allows employees to gain an understanding of why their individual roles impact and contribute to the success or failure of the company´s objectives i.e. “The Bigger Picture”.

There are many relatively simple methods of ensuring bi-directional communication within an organisation, a few examples of which are listed below;

  • All employee “Town Hall” meetings whereby top management presents progress and current status of the organisation, its objectives, project status updates and any upcoming important events that may impact the organisation or its workforce.
  • A number of employee feedback mechanisms could be adopted which would allow staff to provide feedback on any aspect of their working life, have an open forum for presenting new ideas or opportunities for improvement to top management.

The crucial aspect here is that that communication needs to be a continual process and not just a random series of one way information dumps.

An old saying goes that everyone needs to “sing from the same hymn sheet” – ISO 9001:2015 encourages organisations to the develop and implement processes and practices that enable  top management to create this “hymn sheet” for distribution to everyone in their organisation so that, although people have differing roles and responsibilities, the organisation can perform in unison as a single voice.

President Ronald Reagan famously said “Without a vison the people perish” – this quote seems very fitting when looking at the role top management now needs to play when implementing an ISO 9001:2015 compliant quality management system. It is my hope that the requirements demanded by the standard of top management will result in organisations sharing “the vision” with their employees to encourage active engagement and not passive perishing.

I´ll end this blog by posing a question for you all to ponder;

If I were to pick two members of staff from your organisation, one from upper management and the other from your administrative team and ask them if they know what the company´s big picture or vision for the future is – do you think the picture painted would be the same?

By Stuart Hardie, Quality Management Consultant

You want to learn more about an internationally recognized Quality Management System (QMS) which enhances organisational performance, customer satisfaction and gives your organisation a competitive advantage? Then join one of our upcoming ISO 9001:2015 courses in Edinburgh. You can find more information here.



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