How to Align Company Culture with ISO 9001

The benefits of gaining ISO 9001:2008 accreditation are well researched and documented. The positives of eliminating waste, becoming more efficient and reducing the amount of non-conforming materials in your process are obvious to most observers, and the fact that it is now impossible to tender for work with some organizations without ISO accreditation means that ISO 9001:2008 is a “must” for many businesses. But, sometimes such a journey cannot be possible without the help of others…

Why do we need staff engagement?

If, as a manger or consultant, you have taken your team through the ISO 9001 readiness and audit process, you will appreciate that your daily behavior and tasks you have to complete may have changed quite radically from how you behaved before you decided to pursue your accreditation. Most ISO consultants will insist that certain framework documents exist, and certain business practices are established, maintained, and formally recorded in order to ensure compliance; therefore, it is highly likely you have modified your work diary to ensure these things are undertaken and achieved.

But, just as one person cannot alone make an organization ISO 9001:2008 compliant, it is certain that if your team does not change its behavior also, then your compliance will slip. In cases where an organization has employees with many years of service, this isn’t always straightforward. So, how can it be achieved?

How do we achieve staff engagement?

The root of gaining real compliance is by winning the hearts and minds of your team before, during, and after the implementation and accreditation process. The ISO 9001:2008 standard is not a means to an end, but an introduction to how disciplined quality management can improve the performance of a business and the individuals within it. Compliance guarantees repeat accreditation, but real performance improvement mainly will come through the recognized channels: implementing customer and employee feedback, measurement and analysis of existing processes, and feedback from the people who should know most about the processes – your employees themselves.

Winning hearts and minds

Whether they existed before your audit, you will now have given your team members (1) roles and responsibilities, (2) a training schedule, and (3) dates for an individual appraisal – all powerful feedback and information-gathering tools in themselves. If you thought carefully when you put these three processes in place, your employees will understand that this is not a “box ticking” exercise, but a method to encourage achievement against specific set tasks, training programs to facilitate improvement in executing these tasks, and feedback sessions that will be scheduled to ensure that all possible information can be gathered to improve the process, the business performance, and the individual’s personal development – the three almost always happen all together or not at all!

Take some more key elements of the 9001 standard and share them with your staff. Customer feedback, for example, positive or negative – can either be inspiring, or the ultimate inspiration to change and change for the better. All staff generally understand that unsatisfied customers don’t bring repeat business, and compliance with the 9001 standard can be driven by the desire to please customers, and have approved, documented processes that work, and that can be continually reviewed and improved. See also Main elements of handling customer satisfaction in ISO 9001.

Changing behavior, benefits, and gaining certificates!

So, therefore, you should see the behavior of your team change, but you as a leader implementing ISO 9001:2008 must drive that change. Hold daily meetings showing specific and time-bound targets. Be specific as to who holds responsibility for each part of the achievement. Document it, for ISO purposes, but also for the good of your team. Seek feedback from the team, review and adjust. Move forward again. Seek involvement from your team, not just compliance. Make achievement a team goal, and not just a personal one. If you can achieve this, your ISO 9001:2008 accreditation will revolutionize the way your business works, and not just represent another certificate on your wall.

To help your employees understand what ISO 9001 is about, and the benefits of implementing it, use this free Why ISO 9001:2015? Awareness Presentation.

Advisera John Nolan
John Nolan
John Nolan is a Fellow of the Institute of Leaders and Managers in the United Kingdom, and Prince 2 accredited with a background in Engineering and Electronics and Data Storage and Transfer. Having studied and qualified as both a Mechanical and Electronic Engineer, he has spent the last 15 years designing and delivering Quality Systems and projects across many sectors in the UK, including both national and local government.