World Quality Day (WQD) is celebrated globally every year in November and provides organisations with a specific day to focus on what quality is and what value it adds to businesses.
As quality is one of our core values at Ashfield we were really excited to learn about the WQD initiative. We already continuously think about quality and strive to achieve it in everything we do. It is also linked to our recruitment processes, appraisals, event evaluations and client review meetings.
With this in mind we initially asked ourselves whether we really needed to celebrate WQD when it something we are doing every day anyway. The resounding answer was yes. We looked at it the same way that you might look at Valentine’s Day; you don’t need a specific day to tell someone you love them, but what’s the harm in taking advantage of it and making someone feel special?
Our dedicated Quality Committee set about creating a global programme of engaging and interactive activities to deliver across Ashfield Meetings & Events’ offices throughout WQD. We wanted to use the initiative to not only reinforce our commitment to quality but to reward and recognise the behaviours of individuals in the agency that drive our quality culture. It needed to focus on personal development and allow different departments and employees to showcase what quality looks like for them as individuals.
But what is quality? We have identified that it can mean different things to different people depending on their role, but this doesn’t help us in defining it.
There are lots of business definitions available online but the dictionary definition is probably most useful for us. It states that quality is ‘the degree of excellence of something’. This definition can be used as a common denominator whether you’re looking at a service, product or even a person. So if people can have quality is it something that you can teach? According to Aristotle, yes; quality is not an act, it is a habit. This was the focus for our training team in developing the day’s activities, but how did we showcase these habits and share the best and most relevant of them to other employees in the business?
We started by running three sessions, repeated in the morning and afternoon to maximise attendance. The Brand Of You training session encouraging employees to look at themselves, discover what their core values were and why quality was integral to that. We then asked them to really consider if this is the brand that they represent when at work. Are they always promoting themselves as a brand? How do they ensure they retain quality whilst also being true to themselves?
A second workshop – What Good Looks Like – asked staff to really think about what we mean when we say that a behaviour or action is good or high quality. We asked people to look at quality from different perspectives – delivery, relationships, communication – and focus on internal and external examples.
Finally, we decided that we need to take a look at quality from our clients’ viewpoint and an insightful workshop session gave staff the opportunity to find out what quality really means to our clients pre-, peri- and post-event through some short videos.
The sessions were structured in a way that our employees were able to go on a quality journey and learning experience throughout the day, starting with what quality meant to them on a personal level and ending with what quality means to our clients. But we didn’t stop there. We developed the GQ Awards (in our case, Good Quality) and asked all of our employees to nominate their colleagues who have demonstrated a commitment to continuous improvement and personal development, shown a positive can-do attitude, or been impeccable in their delivery of excellence.
As always our staff wholeheartedly threw themselves into the activities with all the energy that we have come to expect. The training sessions were oversubscribed and a total of 88 employees from our UK and US offices received nominations from their colleagues for the GQ Awards.
Hopefully by making the day fun, interactive and getting people to stop and think about the habits that drive their quality, we have planted a seed to ensure quality continues to embody our culture and the events that we deliver. It is clear from their involvement that they believe only the best is good enough and this underpins everything we say and do.