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Monday, April 16, 2012

Quality Can be a Thankless Job But It Doesn't Have to Be

In ASQ’s post this month from Paul Borawski, he asks if quality professionals are happy at their job. You might be wondering why this question is necessary but that is because quality professionals sometimes have a thankless job.

Quality professionals are expected to possess in-depth knowledge on a variety of both complex quality issues and general business skills. In addition, although they are often the first to receive complaints when products fail, they seldom get praise when everything goes according to plan.

Actually, it is a very rewarding job, for several reasons. Firstly, you know that you are helping to make the product a better experience for the customer, which gives you sense of accomplishment. Secondly, it is rewarding to help drive out waste and rework through continuous improvement. Thirdly, being a catalyst for change and a voice in the formation of the culture is meaningful work. Lastly, when you make a difference in employees and customers lives it is hard not to feel pride in your job.

Quality assurance is all about character, courage, activism and passion representing the moral qualities, ethical standards and principles to fight for quality. Managers, supervisors, and leads all have to be strong leaders, versed in communication, they have to be able to sell quality each and every day; carry the message of quality to the masses. Quality professionals must be able to challenge the current norms and take on executives that balk at change. Those in quality understand the need and role of quality in the organization yet the further you are from the customer the more likely this understanding is lost.

The job of a quality professional is not easy. You have to want to make a difference because there are those who will put up a fight. Quality assurance can be a thankless job, if everything goes right, the project managers get the credit, if something goes wrong, quality management gets the blame, after all they touched it last. The purpose of quality systems in an organization is to increase internally, the quality of the people, process and products and externally the quality of the consumers experience for the products and services provided by your company.

Personally, I have found the change from a direct Lean leadership role to quality management a challenging one but a rewarding one. The opportunity to make a difference is the same but the connection to the customer is more direct. Like anything in life it is what you make of it. I choose to make a positive meaningful difference and this brings joy and reward to the work that has to be done.

I’m part of the ASQ Influential Voices program. While I receive an honorarium from ASQ for my commitment, the thoughts and opinions expressed on my blog are my own.

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