Close, Kevin J. (1986, ASQC) Advance Transformer, Chicago, IL
In the last few years, it seems that we are hearing more and more stories about the problems associated with Quality Circles. We have found that there is a definite need to maintain and rekindle the enthusiasm that was present when we first started our Circles five years ago. In seeking to find the cause of this decline in enthusiasm, we naturally gravitated to the many studies and publications on the subject of Burn Out. I personally have an aversion to the term Burn Out, hence, the title of my paper on Maintaining Enthusiasm. In spite of my aversion for the term, it is just as natural for Quality Circles to suffer from Burn Out going through cycles, experiencing both the highs and lows, as we do in our daily lives as individuals or companies. There is generally a time of high interest and enthusiasm when first starting Quality Circles. For many employees, it may be the first time the Management has listened to them or paid attention to their problems. For the first time, large quantities of employees are being given the opportunity to experience a feeling of belonging and a sense of ownership over their jobs. We are providing them with training, and encouraging them to seek ways to solve their work related problems. This is what the behavior scientists have been telling us motivates employees. However, over time, as the Circle matures, an inevitable decline in enthusiasm sets in as the novelty wears off. This is the problem that we attempted to explore and resolve. With the aid of a Cause and Effect diagram, we can explore symptoms and causes to determine a plan of action for maintaining enthusiasm.Two of the symptoms which manifest as a result of Burn Out are stagnation, and a decline in interpersonal relationships. We can see evidence of stagnation occuring when the Circle loses its ability to identify or solve problems. They begin seeking easy solutions and do not bother to use the problem solving tools that they have learned. They leap intuitively to the apparent cause, not bothering to check for other more subtle causes. There is also a substantial decline in creativity and output from the Circle. As the decline sets in, we see increased frustration and withdrawl on the part of members.
Human resources (HR),Quality circles