| Jan 9, 2023

Building a High-Performing Team: The Intersection of Quality and HR

Far from being in opposition, HR and Quality have shared goals and can join forces to maximize the potential of a business.

When people are called into a meeting with Human Resources or Quality, their first reaction isn’t excitement — it’s apprehension. They’re worried they did something wrong.

Many individuals default to this reaction because of negative experiences with HR and Quality professionals who didn’t put employees first, or got into their fields for the wrong reasons. Those experiences shaped their perception that HR and Quality weren’t on their side. However, when Human Resources and Quality lean into each other, they can lay the foundation for a stable, healthy culture and exponential growth.

Improvement and Support Are the Name of the Game

People often believe HR and Quality are in opposition to each other: HR is about relationships and Quality is about products. Both departments are regarded as punitive since they each have to shed light on problems in the company.

 In reality, when HR and Quality highlight issues, it’s not to pick things apart or assert power, but because they want the business and each employee to improve and excel. They want to give people a place to go when they need help. In that sense, no matter what their titles might imply, good HR and Quality leaders don’t see themselves as working “over” anyone. As HR or Quality leaders, we are your resource, not your boss. Our aim is to preserve and improve positive elements of company culture. Culture is the way your team feels on a Sunday night. Is your team dreading interactions on Monday morning, or do they feel supported and excited to get back to work?

I once worked with a Quality Director who was absolutely incredible — she always hit the mark on everything. But then something changed in her approach, and the culture suffered. We improved the situation by working together and dividing our approaches: I coordinated daily interactions, and she oversaw data and metrics. Although this method introduced some rework, it helped to smooth staff interactions and overall company performance.

Game-Winning Teams Communicate

So how do you convince your team that Human Resources and Quality have shared goals of improvement and support? Ultimately, it comes down to how HR and Quality communicate with staff. When they have passion, demonstrate genuine care, and provide constructive feedback, it translates to trust and buy-in. The key is to take a “people-first” approach. 

When team members come to me for advice to resolve an issue, I tell them to ask themselves these questions before speaking: “Is it kind? Is it professional? Is it respectful?” As long as you can answer yes to all of these, you’re going to get that respect, and you’re going to get that buy-in. At that point, HR and Quality can work with staff and leadership to develop more effective interactions, policies, and solutions.

One of the best ways to put this into action is to introduce HR and Quality from the ground level – start new employee training with these departments early on; build those relationships, so that later down the line, your team will have at least two resources that they can count on.

HR and Quality may seem contradictory because one focuses on products and one focuses on people, but working together in communication with staff can often be the key to solving problems. It’s common for situations to arise that both Quality and HR need to assist with.

An employee recently came to me for advice on how best to approach a client. I told her I’d love to help, and that I’d like to involve our quality department in the conversation, too. This tag-team effort worked wonderfully — Quality was able to provide insight into the client’s perspective and give actionable advice, while I was able to support the employee through the backend. Both HR and Quality worked simultaneously to support both the client and the employee.


Draft Your Support Players Early

Even though HR and Quality are integral to success, they’re often among the last departments start-ups hire for. It is the job of these two departments to anticipate potential conflicts and solve them before they arise — whether those conflicts relate to employee policies or client deliverables.

One of the biggest reasons for turnover, especially in start-ups, is when the onboarding process for new hires is vague, undirected, or disorganized. One of the main goals for my HR and Quality departments is to have new team members exit training successful and happy in their role, so we’re constantly asking, “How do we get them to that point?” When a new employee joins a company and is given little to no direction on what to do in those early weeks, that employee won’t be prepared when they’re thrust into their departmental training. HR and Quality can work together to figure out what a new hire needs to understand and complete before they start getting assigned to projects. By making HR and Quality staff a priority in hiring, a company will be able to develop a clear, effective orientation and training program for any subsequent hires, meaning that new employees can hit the ground running and get to work right away.


Having HR and Quality departments established early ensures transparency and consistency, which gives employees the assurance that the business is operating out of unified policy. Those departments can be proactive to address the problems that are most likely to arise, and introduce positive elements of the company’s culture from day one, and embed them as core values. That consistency, transparency, and integrity makes employees feel safe and comfortable, which is vital to the inner workings of any business.

The Strongest Plays Bring the Whole Team Onboard

Quality and HR have difficult roles in any business, since their roles are to identify inefficiencies and correct them. The changes that arise from this problem-solving approach can be intimidating for employees, so the job of Quality and HR professionals is to create a relationship that emphasizes collective, rather than corrective, action. In this way, HR and Quality also provide checks and balances for each other. Rather than working in opposition, these departments can serve together as a powerhouse support team for a company, especially if positions are filled early. The more dedicated HR and Quality personnel are to being resources for the business and interacting with truth, kindness, and necessity, the better results for a company.

Kristin Woodruff
Kristin Woodruff
Executive Author

Head of People, Massive Alliance

Kristin Woodruff is Head of People at Massive Alliance with specific expertise in improving company culture. view profile


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