In our latest dilemma, Chris Achillea, UK Head of Compliance at Integral, UK, explains how quality managers can encourage senior teams to take ownership and more responsibility for their management system(s).
The quality manager for a national service delivery organisation has scheduled a formal quarterly management review meeting for the senior team to attend. The senior team comprises of operational and functional heads that represent the top management of the organisation.
Within the calendar invite an agenda and the pre-work for all participants was cited and included a requirement for everyone to bring relevant inputs and data from their departments to discuss at the meeting. These inputs include, but are not limited to, the key risks and challenges within the division, customer feedback, and changes underway within each department.
Multiple reminders were sent to all attendees in the lead up to the meeting along with a note to send delegated representatives in the event that the original invitees are unable to attend.
On the day of the meeting, multiple invitees did not attend and had not offered a delegated representative to attend in their place. Others that were in attendance had not completed the necessary preparation for discussion at the review, stating that it’s the quality manager’s role to provide the information for the management review meeting and to make sure that the management system works.
With a number of issues to contend with, what could have been done to prevent this problem from occurring?
The effectiveness and responsibility of the management system is dependent on all individuals within the organisation. Top management are required to actively lead and take accountability for the effectiveness of the management system. Clause 5 of the ISO 9001:2015 standard (and other ISO standards in accordance with the high-level structure) states the requirements of top management in the context of the management system.
There are several different approaches the quality manager can take on this. Firstly, it’s important to understand why individuals in the senior team do not believe it’s part of their role to provide input to the management review meeting (and wider management system).
It may be that the senior team are not aware of their obligations to the management system. As such, the quality manager could hold a policy review meeting with the senior team to support them to understand what obligations they are required to both commit to and lead. If non-attendance is an issue, it could be held by video/conference call, or a bulletin outlining their obligations and why this is important.
Beyond the obligations of the senior team, there is also understanding the benefit that the management system brings to the organisation and why a management review is a critical part of this. As such, revisiting the benefits that the management system brings to the organisation with the senior team could support the transition from lack of ownership to actively leading.
In progressing the above, the quality manager could also approach a senior leader that supports and actively leads the management system to act as a sponsor for this. With a senior sponsor supporting the quality manager, the opportunity to ‘bring others around the table’ may become more prominent.
A management system has leadership as a requirement at its core. Without active and engaged leadership, achieving an effective management system is an incredibly challenging task.
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