The control systems that encourage innovations should be functional and focus on the professional duties and performance of employees.
They should motivate employees to introduce innovations to improve the quality of their work and, thus, to improve the organizational performance. In this respect, the total quality management is one of the most effective control systems I have ever experienced in my professional life. In actuality, the total quality management is oriented on the total control over the quality of products and services the company offers to its customers. However, this is a superficial view on the totally quality management, at least as this control system was applied in Ikea, the company focused not only on the quality of products and services offered to customers, but also on the quality of work of employees. Moreover, the quality and control over the quality was total and overwhelming. The quality was the main criteria that defined the effectiveness of work of employees to the extent that the quality became an integral part of our work and, in a way, the quality penetrated into interpersonal relationships between employees because they were always concerned with the quality. In such a way, employees were always motivated to work better, effectively and productively because the quality became an integral part of the company’s philosophy and organizational culture.
The continuous improvement was another control system which was functional similarly to the total quality management. In fact, the continuous improvement was closely intertwined with the total quality management. At the same time, the continuous improvement control system was focused entirely on the professional performance of each employee and the ongoing improvement of the effectiveness and productivity of employees’ work along with the improvement of the quality of work. The continuous improvement motivates employees to introduce innovations because, in the contemporary business environment, improvements are difficult to introduce if there are no innovations, no new, original approaches to tasks employees perform daily. In fact, the use of traditional approaches and methods of work has its limits and it is only through innovations, which are encouraged by the continuous improvement control system, it is possible to overcome these limits and carry on the improvement of the effectiveness and productivity of work. In such a way, employees are motivated effectively through the continuous improvement control system.
Development and evaluating of control systems
At the same time, in order to maintain control systems, companies need the development of clear and accurate criteria which allow to evaluate control systems. In this regard, Ikea developed criteria which met the control systems employed by the company to control the performance of employees and the effectiveness of work of the entire organization. In this respect, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that the major criteria applied to evaluate benchmarking was grounded on the analysis of the position of major rivals of Ikea and their policies. To put it more precisely, the company used such criteria as productivity, effectiveness of work, costs of work, expenditures and revenues of companies along with financial data which were analyzed to assess the overall effectiveness of the marketing performance of the companies and the effectiveness of work of their employees. The data collected in the result of such analysis were extrapolated on the performance of Ikea and its employees. As a result, if the performance of Ikea and its employees met the performance of the industry leaders, the company considered the benchmarking to be effective. However, such criteria were not always adequate because the overall marketing performance and work of employees depended on multiple factors, which could not be changed through the improvement of the work of Ikea’s employees solely, but which needed consistent strategic changes in the marketing plan and performance of Ikea.
As for the total quality management and the continuous improvement criteria were similar, in a way. Firstly, the quality of work of employees was assessed. The major criteria of the quality of work were the lack of returns and customers complaints on the quality of employees and commodities sold by the company. In contrast, if some employees were subject to numerous complaints their work was considered to be ineffective and the quality of their work was too low for the company.
In such a context, the customer was another criteria used by the company to evaluate and change, if necessary, its total quality and continuous improvement control systems. In fact, the customer satisfaction was traced through the analysis of the change of the number of loyal customers, who use services of the company regularly. In addition, the company used interviews and questionnaires to assess the level of customer satisfaction with the quality of services and work of employees. As a result, on the basis of the data collected, the company could evaluate the total quality and continuous improvement control systems and introduce essential improvements or changes.