Are You Recession Proofed?
You’re probably more valuable than you realize
by Anthony Manos
Over the years, I have observed that organizations seem to make cuts in two specific areas when economic times are tough. The first department cut is safety, and the second is quality.
What’s worse is that if an organization doesn’t have a safety department, then the first to go is quality.
You probably know fellow quality professionals who have been laid off because companies had to cut back during these uncertain times. While it obviously doesn’t make sense to reduce safety or quality, unfortunately that’s what some companies do.
It is surprising to me that quality professionals are often caught off guard by this phenomenon. Have they never seen it happen before? Wake up and smell the coffee. Remember the recession back in 2002-2003 and many other downturns in business cycles? We have been through this before.
Changing times require us to change along with it. I’m not talking about a wholesale reinvention of yourself. Just look in the mirror and see where you add value to your organization.
As quality professionals, we are supposed to be customer focused and have a continuous improvement focus. Then why don’t we always see our employer as a customer of our education, skills, experience and (gasp) competence? Why don’t we continuously make ourselves more valuable to our employers?
I believe quality professionals have so much more to offer in other areas of our organizations, but we just don’t recognize these attributes:
- What marketing group wouldn’t want someone on its team who has excellent problem-solving skills, is customer focused and has knowledge of statistics?
- What production function wouldn’t want a team player who practices continuous improvement and knows how to use all sorts of tools that can stabilize variation, identify problems, propose and implement solutions, and eliminate the root cause?
- Some of the soft skills we possess could help a customer service department improve customer satisfaction.
- I bet purchasing could use someone knowledgeable in acceptance sampling and auditing.
knowledge picked up on the job could be used to train or teach others.
List all your skills
If you think you might be on the bubble jobwise or need to change things in your career, try looking beyond your life in the quality department. When organizations hire employees, they look for skills a quality professional already has and practices every day.
Use your next 10-minute break to start a list of skills you have acquired while performing the duties of a practicing quality professional.
Here are some examples to get started: project management, Pareto analysis, team building, measurement and metrics, and effective meeting facilitation. Work on your list twice a day for five days, and I bet you will have a list much longer than you think possible. Shoot for a minimum of 50 skills.
Now, look around. What other areas in your organization do you think could use these skills? In what other areas have you considered working some day?
Have you ever thought about approaching your boss and saying, "You know, I love a challenge, and I was wondering what it would take for me to use my skills to help out other areas in our company." Then, go to the leader in the area in which you are interested in working and ask the same question.
Is it risky to ask these questions? Maybe. They might say, "Just do your own job and don’t worry about others." They might not understand your valuable skills and think you are trying to take over their projects.
Could these efforts be the best move you ever made? Absolutely!
Don’t get caught off guard. Make yourself so valuable to your organization that there is no way they would let you get away. You might even get a promotion or, better yet, a raise.
Anthony Manos is a catalyst with Profero Inc. in Frankfort, IL. He earned an MBA in entrepreneurial studies at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Manos is a senior member of ASQ and an ASQ certified mechanical inspector and quality technician.