How do you get people to cooperate with ISO9001:2000?

You’re a quality person, working for a company, doing your job. The company doesn’t really have any serious problems, but one day someone gets a bug in their ear that the company should have an ISO9001:2000 quality management system. Or, even worse, your company’s biggest and best customer has decided that you need to implement ISO. And you’re handed a due date. Yikes!

Whether you’re a quality professional working on ISO9001:2000 for the first time, or a quality consultant hired to get a company certified, you can’t do it alone. You will need help.

I recently started working with a customer who wants to get ISO9001:2000 mostly due to customers’ mandating it. The company isn’t perfect, they have a few organizational issues, but they don’t have any serious problems, and they produce high quality products with very few returns. They are recognized as the leader in their industry, and the people working there are mostly long term, dedicated employees. It’s obvious that top management has fostered an atmosphere of teamwork and cooperation.

The company has been trying to get ISO9001:2000 certification for a few years. Fortunately they have not had a customer deadline….yet. The main reason, in my opinion, why they haven’t been able to get registered is because they did not have the right person driving the quality program.

The last person charged with driving the ISO program was apparently an older curmudgeon who rubbed people the wrong way. Instead of listening to the people who already do a good job, he alienated people with his insistence that it was his way or the highway.

The employees already working at the company don’t really know much about ISO, and they don’t really care. They know the company needs it and wants it, but they are already very busy trying to do the best job they can at their position. For someone to come in and tell them they’re doing things the wrong way, and they have to change to satisfy ISO, well, this is not a great way to get people on your side.

While you certainly may need to implement some new records, maybe change around a few procedures, I am a huge proponent of avoiding large-scale changes at any organization just for ISO’s sake. Chances are that if a company is successful and well-established, they’re already doing a lot of very good things. Why mess with that?

ISO9001:2000 is somewhat malleable, and has some gray areas, as we all know. The ISO9001:2000 quality standard was intentionally written this way so it can apply to all sorts of different organizations.

I’ve run into many people who only know a little bit about ISO9001:2000, and they’re a little intimidated by it. They believe ISO will dictate exactly how their company must be run, and they’re afraid that with all the forms, procedures and records that they won’t be able to get any actual work done.

I think one sign of a successful ISO quality consultant, or a good quality professional of any kind just coming into a new company, is that he/she is a good listener. It’s amazing how much you can learn about a company just by listening to people. And by listening at first, you will probably find that people are much more receptive to what you have to offer later.

You will need help from others to implement a new ISO9001:2000 quality management system. No one can do it alone, unless its just a one person company.

The first two things I’d recommend to any person trying to implement ISO are:
1. Realize that you can tailor ISO to the company. If the company is already doing well, try to change company procedures as little as possible.
2. Listen to the people who work there. This will pay you huge dividends in the future.

We all joke about needing a whip to get people in line, but the reality is that you want people on your side in order to have an effective quality system. If you make a bunch of enemies at first, you’ll never be successful.

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2 Responses to “How do you get people to cooperate with ISO9001:2000?”

  1. Joyce Hall says:

    I work at church in a church nursery and it is very hard getting them to change anything.

    I bought new smocks. Really nice. I thought they would be proud and ask them to wear them. Some said no its not important.

    You cant whip them up and put in line.

    Any advise would be most appreciated.

  2. John says:

    Perhaps you could have asked by getting new smocks before purchasing them.

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