Company managers have a lot on their plates. It's a tall order to handle daily operations, inventory, staffing needs, training, deadline and quota expectations, and a bevy of other duties. The best managers know enough to delegate certain responsibilities, which can help maintain organization efficiency, but at a certain point there are too many variables to keep track of.
What's worse is when a management team lacks consistency. Let's say one manager prefers things done in a certain way, but another manager has his own set of principles. That means there are two competing processes happening in the same facility, so when a mistake inevitably arises, no one can be completely sure about how it happened. There is no consistency, no audit trail and no accountability. ISO 9001 certification can eliminate that uncertainty by establishing a coherent standard by which managers can measure their procedures and streamline processes, according to ISO’s Quality Management Principles. Here's how:
The customer comes first
Ultimately, managers are only successful if they're meeting clients' needs. No matter how well the manager performs his or her duties, none of it matters if the customers are unhappy. ISO 9001 emphasizes taking actions to measure customer satisfaction, link company goals to client expectations, build customer relationships, forecast clients' future needs and so on.
Be a better leader
Leadership is about balance – it's about knowing when to give orders and delegate responsibility, when to step aside and allow others to take initiative, and when to simply let your work ethic dictate your expectations. Being a leader is not about establishing dominance and great leaders are experts at empowering people go above and beyond. ISO 9001 values employee engagement at every level, focusing on respect, communication and shared values.
Build better processes and you'll build a better organization. Managers who focus strictly on the end result may be tempted to take shortcuts, deviate from standards or ignore protocols. When that happens, not only do tasks get overlooked, deadlines pass and expectations go unmet, but it may be impossible to go back through the steps and identify what went wrong. ISO 9001 is all about the process, especially in its latest incarnation, according to a recent press release:
"The earlier versions of ISO 9001 were quite prescriptive, with many requirements for documented procedures and records. In the 2000 and 2008 editions, we focused more on managing processes, and less on documentation," explained Nigel Croft, chair of the ISO subcommittee responsible for the standard revision. "We have now gone a step further, and ISO 9001:2015 is even less prescriptive than its predecessor, focusing instead on performance."
There's no such thing as perfection – an organization can always be more efficient, reach for higher customer satisfaction, and better engage its employees. Managers cannot be satisfied with fixing a problem in a process or reaching a baseline goal. Instead, they should be focused on raising the bar and ISO 9001 can help. The standard stresses education and training, building higher goals across the organization, tracking projects and rewarding progress. Additionally, managers who utilize hard data have an easier time making measurable improvements. It's hard to know exactly how a company is performing if there are no metrics in place to mark growth.
Seeking ISO 9001 certification is a surefire way to improve management because it establishes norms and procedures that align with the best practices named here. Additionally, clients associate ISO certification with quality control and a commitment to success – and happy customers make good managers. By streamlining processes and providing company-wide cohesion, ISO 9001 certification will bring out the best in management.