Are you ready?

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First came the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, established by Congress in 1987 to recognize the importance of quality and performance excellence to U.S. businesses and the nation as a whole.

February 01, 2002

First came the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, established by Congress in 1987 to recognize the importance of quality and performance excellence to U.S. businesses and the nation as a whole. Then the NAHB Research Center launched the National Housing Quality Awards and the National Remodeling Quality Awards, both patterned after the Baldrige Award.

This year, NRQ becomes part of NHQ. The 10th annual National Housing Quality program, co-sponsored by the NAHB Research Center and the Cahners Residential Group, is offering awards in separate divisions for remodelers, home builders and trade contractors.

“Total quality management offers just as many benefits for remodelers and trade contractors as it does for builders,” says Ed Caldeira, director of quality services for the NAHB Research Center. “The NHQ Awards focus on the degree to which quality is integrated into an applicant’s business, and that’s a goal all partners in the construction industry should be seeking to achieve.”

Bill Asdal of Asdal Builders LLC, winner of a silver NRQ Award in 1997, agrees. “The next generation of industry improvement will come through mastery of business skills,” he says. “This program will chart your path to business leadership and accelerate successes.”

Are you ready to apply? Take this survey to decide for yourself. The survey looks at each of the eight key quality categories an application must address. Select one of three options:

“Easy to answer” indicates your organization could answer automati-cally, with widespread agreement.

“Could answer” indicates a question for which data are not readily available, but your organization could produce data to provide a consensus response to this question.

“Difficult to answer” indicates a question that would be difficult to answer and/or to reach agreement on at this time.

Leadership

How do senior leaders guide the organization toward a common purpose, with shared values and priorities?

Consider discussing:

  1. The company mission that gives purpose to the organization.
  2. Company values that guide decisions and behavior.
  3. A vision of what the company can become and the strategy for achieving it.
  4. What senior leaders do to make the mission, values and vision come alive within the company.
  5. How feedback is obtained on employee beliefs about the company culture, and how it is used to strengthen alignment toward the company’s mission, vision and values.
  6. Ways the company demonstrates public responsibility and good citizenship, and helps improve the industry.

Strategic planning

How do you create and carry out a strategic plan to achieve a future vision, and to enhance competitive position and overall performance?

  1. Your annual business and/or strategic planning process.
  2. How you evaluate the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
  3. The strategic challenges and op-portunities facing the company.
  4. Strategic objectives with milestones and timetables.
  5. How progress toward strategic objectives is monitored and controlled.
  6. How your strategic plan ties to the company mission, vision and values.

Customer satisfaction

How do you manage design and delivery of products and services that lead to high levels of customer satisfaction?

  1. Your focus on key customer groups or market segments.
  2. Principal factors that determine your success relative to competitors’.
  3. Your method for selecting product features and services to maximize value.
  4. Methods you use to systematically develop positive customer relationships before and after the sale.
  5. Principal factors you believe lead to high levels of customer satisfaction.
  6. How customer satisfaction feedback is obtained and used to improve performance.

Performance management

How are business processes designed, managed and improved to achieve performance excellence?

  1. Principal performance factors that drive the company’s success and their related measures.
  2. How you manage performance of the key success drivers, including how expectations are set and controlled.
  3. Planned initiatives to improve performance of key success drivers, including goals and timetables.
  4. Systematic approaches that engage employees to identify and implement improvement opportunities.

Human resources

How do you develop the full potential of employees in ways that support the company’s performance and learning objectives?

  1. Your company’s approach to a creating a work environment that supports employee well-being, satisfaction and motivation.
  2. Work-force development goals and activities for achieving them.
  3. Personnel evaluation and bonus incentive systems and how they motivate employees toward the right behaviors and priorities.
  4. Principal factors you believe lead to high levels of employee satisfaction.
  5. How employee satisfaction feedback is obtained and used.
  6. Your approach for ensuring a safe work environment.

Construction quality

How do you ensure high-performing, trouble-free products and services?

  1. Your quality performance standards.
  2. Methods to ensure that the constructed product and services meet quality standards.
  3. Processes to correct problems and prevent them from recurring.
  4. How you ensure that warranty complaints are handled to the satisfaction of customers.

Supplier partnerships

How do you create high-performance relationships with trade contractors and product manufacturers?

  1. Your approach to partnering with trade contractors and/or product manufacturers.
  2. Your goals and activities for improving trade contractor performance.
  3. How partnering performance ex-pectations are set and controlled.
  4. Factors you believe lead to high levels of trade contractor satisfaction.
  5. How trade contractor satisfaction feedback is obtained and used.

Business results

What results have been achieved though your high-performance business practices? Provide quantitative data and trends over time when available.

  1. Financial results achieved during the past three or more years.
  2. Improvements to overall company performance.
  3. Results that have been achieved with improvements to customer satisfaction, operational effectiveness and product quality.
  4. How your business results compare with those of other companies in the industry.
  5. Results that link to improvement initiatives and topics discussed in the previous seven sections.

Reading the results

How did you do? Did most of the above fall into the “easy to answer” column? If yes, submit an application. You could be a winner.

If most are in the “could answer” category, you might not win this year, but you should prepare an application. Doing so will focus your management team, associates and suppliers on the company’s mission and activities that support it. Every applicant receives a feedback report with advice from the experienced judging panel as well as a plan for improvement.

If most questions are “difficult to answer,” there is work to do. Find out how past NHQ and NRQ winners answer the questions and use what you find to set an agenda for improvement.

To request a free NHQ Application Kit from the NAHB Research Center, e-mail rknab@nahbrc.org or call 301/430-6225. The kit contains application forms and reference materials.

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