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Quality or Quantity? It Doesn’t Have to Be Either / Or

No matter the industry, profession, task, or person, there always seems to come a time to answer the question – what’s more important, quality or quantity?  However, in business the ultimate goal should be to never have to choose, but find a way to maintain a healthy balance between the two.

Producing outcome to a desired level of quality in a timely manner sounds easy.  But then why do so many employees lean towards one or the other in their working style? There are a number of factors that influence the choice between quality and quantity, but in business, the key influencers of that balance between delivering more at a potential risk to quality are the managers.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Does management reward the worker who takes on every assigned task and hastily generates output that may be just “good enough”?  Or the one who limits their tasks, takes their time, and delivers a quality product?   

Often, a passive manager makes the choice and shows preference without realizing or verbalizing it, by rewarding one behaviour over another with implicit cues.  Things like praising or correcting workers for a certain working style, setting targets that favour one behaviour over another, or hiring employees who lean towards quantity or quality are all unspoken directions a manager gives to their team.  But while a passive manager may not realize they’re showing preference, their employees do, and they will naturally follow the cue.

Support from management for one behaviour over another will logically foster the favoured behaviour in employees, who will subconsciously gravitate towards the working style that will increase their chances to meet or exceed targets, earn recognition or reward, and get ahead in their role.  A passive manager will not realize, or perhaps will not care, how they are unintentionally influencing their employees, but an active manager will take great care to thoughtfully find a best practice balance for their team.

Be Actively Aware of Your Actions

An active manager understands the implications of their approach with staff, and knows it can determine whether the required balance between quantity and quality is maintained or skewed.   They recognize the influence they have over their employees, and the impact they have on what output their employees produce. 

Active managers strive to find the best possible balance between quantity and quality by asking questions like: what KPIs are being promoted, what volume of work is expected from employees, what amount of time is given per task, what amount of rework is required with each submission, and what behaviour is being rewarded?  Once a consistent balance is achieved, active managers take care to make sure it’s maintained going forward.

A manger’s behaviour can, and often does, determine whether the required balance between quality and quantity is preserved.  It’s extremely important for a manager to recognize how their actions are perceived by employees, to stay mindful of their behaviours, and to ensure that behaviour is aligned with desired outcomes.   

Read more about Trindent’s approach to active management training, here.