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Dr. Ron McKinley Q&A: The Potential Impact of ISO 10018 Certification on Quality People Management

Co-Founder of the International Center for Enterprise Engagement (ICEE) at the Healthcare Management Institute of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX, McKinley explains why the organization has created the first certification program for ISO 10018 standards and a potential opportunity for organizations around the world. McKinley is also the Chair for ISO Technical Committee 260, which manages ISO human resource management standards. 
Q: What is the significance of the ISO 10018 standards? 
A: Essentially, ISO 10018 standards for the quality management of people do for organizations what the ISO 9000 standards do for the management of quality processes – create a formal means to embed best practices into the organization to maximize sustainable results. At most organizations, the management of people is roughly at the stage that quality process management was in the 1970s – very few organizations have a formal approach. What is perhaps most significant is that the ISO 10018 standard was developed by engineers who manage ISO 9000 because they realized that people are the key to making quality an everyday part of doing business. 
Q: What is unique about the ISO 10018 standard?
A: It provides a clear roadmap for organizations to instill in their organization the effective practices needed to have a sustainable customer focused and innovative culture in which everyone is passionate about the organization’s success. The good thing about this ISO standard is that it is voluntary. There is no point following the standard unless management believes that it provides a means of baking engagement into the day-to-day process of doing business rather than creating a new layer of responsibility. 
What’s different is that organizations today tend to look at the engagement of customers, distribution partners, employees, suppliers, or communities in buckets, and they tend to look at engaging people as a series of ad hoc promotions, campaigns, or carrots rather than as a holistic strategy. It’s a subject not taught in business schools, so there are for most organizations no clear guideposts…until now. 
ISO 10018 essentially is no different than ISO 9000 in the sense that it seeks to make the practices necessary for engaging people part of the regular way of doing business rather than a process that essentially reacts to, rather than proactively addressing, engagement.
Q: That seems easier said than done.
A: Coming from the healthcare industry, I know this. In high-paced organizations, going from one crisis to another, it’s often challenging to hit the stop button, rethink the culture and how to break down all the silos to focus on everything that counts strategically. And, of course, old habits die hard. That said, great organizations do it all the time, and standards help establish an agreed-upon nomenclature and framework for making it part of daily life. 
What helps is that many organizations already do many of the things they have to do to engage people. What they lack is a clearly stated vision, mission and plan. If you look at the chart outlining the essential elements of ISO 10018 quality people management principles, you’ll see that most organizations make considerable expenditures in this area. What they lack is a strategic vision, brand and culture to unify all their people – from customers and distribution partners to employees, vendors and communities – with similar expectations. Only then can promises get systematically fulfilled. 
Q: Why wasn’t there any certification for ISO 10018 until now?
A: The standard was first published in 2012, and I guess a lot has been going on in business and the world. Otherwise, I don’t know. 
Q: What would you like to see come of the ISO 10018 Certification? 
A: The goal is to have ISO 10018 as widely respected for what it says about quality people management as ISO 9000 says about quality process management. Organizations dedicated to following the principles of ISO 10018 are better companies to do business with and better to work for, and the principles apply to any type of organization, from public companies to not-for-profits and government, large organizations to small. 
Q: How can quality people management be audited?
A: As the charts published by ISO show, quality people management involves a formal process that addresses the key levers of engagement with a focus on measurement. Formal processes can be documented by reviewing formal written plans; the organization’s vision, mission objectives; leadership recruitment, development, and assessment process; and the plans and documentation for communication, learning, community, rewards and recognition, and measurement. Today, companies are increasingly employing engagement technologies that incorporate all these elements in a single platform, so it will become easier to audit activities and outcomes. Nonetheless, the audit always involves an onsite visit and meetings, not only with management but with random employees, to assess how well they can articulate the organization’s mission, vision and values, as well as other employee-development efforts. 
Q: What types of certifications are planned? 
A: We’re following the model of ISO 9000 standards. Any organization committed to building quality people management principles into their way of doing business can benefit by displaying this commitment in their marketing and communications to customers, talent, investors, or anyone who might become involved with the organization. Whether or not an organization seeks to display the ISO 10018 logo, it can benefit from implementing quality people management. In addition, there are certifications for consultants that will seek to serve as auditors and certifiers, and developers who will provide formal services to organizations. 
Q: How does the ISO certification differ from the Enterprise Engagement Alliance’s Certified Engagement Practitioner (CEP) and Advanced Engagement Practitioner (AEP) certifications? 
A: The ISO standards are for organizations. The EEA standards are for individual professionals who seek to provide these services for their organizations or the clients of those organizations. The Advanced Engagement Practitioner certification is being updated to align with the ISO 10018 framework in the chart above. 
ICEECompanies can learn about the 10018 standards and certification at the ICEE’s “Engagement in Action” conference in Galveston, TX, Dec. 7-8, on the campus of the University of Texas Medical Branch. Click here to register

For more information, contact:
Nick Gazivoda
The Enterprise Engagement Alliance 
(914) 591-7600, ext. 238
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