Competence in the Quality Management Standards
“The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay – Henry Ford”.
The Quality Management Standard has a requirement for you to determine competence, where the performance and effectiveness of the system are affected by the people working in it and on it. It then goes on to specify that you should ensure competence by appropriate education, training, or experience and take actions to ensure competence is obtained. Finally, it requires the keeping of records as evidence of competence. All very straightforward and many of our clients have used a simple two-dimensional matrix to plot competence (the application of skills) against team names.
We have found that the auditors from the Certified Bodies generally accept this approach (or a variation on it) as evidence that you have assessed and approved everyone as competent to work in your various processes. They will ask questions, especially if you have only one person competent to perform an operation. This means you may need to consider how you will cover absence in these circumstances. You will probably be safe to conclude that as long as you can produce the records of evidence meeting the four requirements for competence, then your certification is secure.
In practice, of course, it can become more complicated than this. For example when you prepare a new job description, which includes the need for competence in the use of spreadsheets; will attendance on two introductory courses at the local college meet your requirements? If not, how are you going to satisfy yourself about the level of competence before making any job offers? Does your strategic plan include the introduction of new services that will be delivered remotely, using available technologies? If so, who from your existing team could benefit most from the training and apply it to maximum advantage in your business?
None of the above may present a problem if the pace of change within your business is relatively slow. If your team is very adaptable, they will probably make adjustments that will enable you to continue providing a quality service or product, so “no worries”. In the modern technological world, of course, the pace of change is accelerating and maybe much quicker than your business changes.
Competent staff then are not just about what they can do today but also how quickly and thoroughly they can adapt to tomorrow. This can be even more crucial if you are planning to use more and more technology to improve your business processes. If you take the same view as Henry Ford, then decisions about time and financial considerations in recruitment, training, and mentoring could be as important as capital investment. If you have the balance right you will have the time to work on your business, having delegated tasks to your ever-improving competent team.
Explore your opportunities with us
There is always something new to consider and little time to think about it if you need to improve your staff competencies, whilst still ensuring your business works for you. Of course, you know what you’re doing, or you wouldn’t still be there, but how useful would it be to be able to involve an experienced and confidential outsider to join you in working on your business. It can be immensely powerful and that’s why we do what we do.
If you would like to consider other elements of competence, then contact us on:
Tel: 01284 330400
We work with small to medium size businesses across the East Anglia Region.