Quality by Motivation

This is a guest submission from Ashish Kumar Gupta.

Quality control

There is a hue and cry for quality from every nook and corner of the industry. Everything like supply chain efficiency, planning, costing and delivery go for a six if the quality is not up to mark. Actually, it is the quality that rules and supposed to be the inherent soul of every operation.

“Quality can't be compromised.” 

Quality depends on a number of pre-sewing factors, but it is mainly the sewing line that can make or break the quality. Generally, a garment is the result of the synchronized work done by many operators (depending upon the operation breakdown of a garment).

A garment during stitching passes through many operators with a varied skill set and mindset, leaving it vulnerable to the defects. A mistake made during any of the operations can result in failure of shipment, an unsatisfied customer and a battered reputation for the company and brand. So it is actually the operator getting 80$/month who is responsible for the multi-million $ reputation of a company. 

This is a fact known by everyone but addressed properly by a few. Most companies crumbling under the high pressure of delivery have a short-sighted approach or an immediate fix to the quality problems. They will increase the quality checkpoints or start an alteration section. Actually, this is not the end of the problem but the start of a new and bigger problem-“increase in the callousness” of the line operators and supervisors because there are others to rectify their faults. It is the start of anarchy. 

The only solution is to create awareness about the quality and motivate the employees to make it a habit not the requirement to be fulfilled. This is about the behavioral change and a huge shift from the “chalata hai” attitude of garment industry employees in India. These changes will not come in a day or a month, it will require much more than that and above all that a patient management of the company. But once we imbibed it in the system “Quality will just happen, not a thing to be asked for”.

Before focusing on the solution part, we need to introspect.
  1. Can we expect an 80$/month operator to be highly motivated to produce a quality garment every time? 
  2. Can we expect the same from everyone involved in the manufacturing? 
  3. Can we expect a supervisor to explain the quality requirement every time to the operator while he is under production pressure? 
  4. Are we ready to hear his/her problems? 
  5. Does the operator have the feeling of belongingness to the company? 
If the answer is “NO”, you must be facing quality issues in your factory. 

So how we can make this devil stay away?

We should take the inspiration from JAPAN. In Japan, it is not only about just working in an organization and taking the salary home at the end of the month. It is about an association with the employer which once forged “stays lifetime”. It is the feeling of belonging to the organization that motivates them to achieve the impossible. Quality is a way of life. 

It is the “Motivated employee” who will help you eradicate this devil. So how we can motivate an employee to stick to the company for a long time and deliver the best. 

The garment industry is a labor intensive industry and requires a lot of hardship. These factors further increase the importance of a motivated operator. 

How a motivated operator can make the difference? 
  1. A motivated operator sticks to the company for a longer period thus reducing the overall training and development cost of the company. 
  2. A motivated operator will look for a longer association with the organization and always deliver the best in the line of organizational goal. 
  3. A new operator takes time before he is able to deliver. Sometimes he never delivers. 
  4. Low absenteeism results in higher efficiency and consistent quality. 
  5. Keen to take new challenges. 
  6. Works for the organization not for his personal benefit. 
  7. He is a problem solver not a creator. 
  8. A motivated operator motivates others creating a positive work environment. 

How we can motivate our operators?

Motivated employees are the dream of every manager. These employees can make a manager successful and an organization rock. There are some simple and possible ways to keep the employees motivated,
  1. Scientific way of wage fixing to avoid friction between employees. 
  2. Wages at par with the industry
  3. Regular revisions of skill matrix and wages 
  4. Weekly meeting of line operators with Line Supervisor, Quality controller and managers for addressing issues and problems faced during the week 
  5. Treat them with dignity and respect
  6. Give them the opportunity to grow. Give them a clear growth path. 
  7. Rewards for the performance 
  8. Addressing their problems on priority
  9. Providing basic amenities like good food, medical care etc.
  10. Regular interaction with the higher management in order to be aware of organizational goal. 
Imbibing the quality in the system, making it a habit is not that difficult as it seems. The top management of a factory must understand the importance the human factor in the success of an organization and act accordingly. They must give the operator a quality treatment and environment to ensure a quality work every time.

“Quality is not a word; it is a state of mind.”

About the Author
Ashish Kumar Gupta is a Master of Fashion Technology from National Institute of Fashion Technology, New Delhi and he holds a Bachelors degree in Textile Technology. He was associated with Madura Exports as Assistant Quality Manager for two and half years. At present, he is working with Lovely Professional University as an Assistant Professor.  

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