A common question I ask when I meet a Quality Manager is, “Do you trust the data from your process?” It’s a simple question, that often leads to engaging conversations about their process or about trust with their team. Those visits typically don’t turn into long philosophical conversations. They usually highlight the trust with fellow coworkers and more specifically, the people working on the floor collecting samples or cleaning sampling equipment.
The reality is that operators, lab techs or anyone who is responsible for collecting or cleaning sampling tools is pressured by short cleaning times or demanding lab procedures. When time pressures kick in, training and best practices are difficult to maintain. The challenge here is that this pressure can produce false results, alter decision-making, or worse, introduce microbial contamination. If you can’t trust your coworkers or the results, there is no point in even collecting the data.
We all face differing pressures. It is hard to find a good balance and build the necessary trust between people to build good results. This time challenge is true in almost every job- not just collecting samples.
Working remotely with a small team, I find myself coming back to the question of trust often. If I’ll be honest with you – it is tough, and I am far from having a good answer. I struggle to keep a busy schedule building genuine connections with existing partners, training new ones, and keeping up with a seven-hour time change with the rest of the office. Not to mention I am learning Norwegian and building a new community in Stavanger. I don’t have the time to invest as much as is needed into any one of those buckets.
Starting the new year, I packed my schedule with new customer trainings, new sampling application demos, and developing education campaigns. The business is working; asking challenging questions is opening doors. Poor sampling and mistrust are a challenge for the dairy industry worldwide.
However, I am so focused on my customers building trust in their companies that it has come at a cost to collaborating with my team. I’ve missed several weekly meetings due to my travel schedule. I rely too heavily on emails over calls. Worst, I struggle keeping up with the small successes. I am lucky to work with a team that supports my work, even in my absence, and follows up to the crazy emails. However, I need to slow down my schedule and evaluate the key priorities.
Trust and respect, as Patrick Lencioni puts it, “Are the basis of a highly functional team.” I would agree with this. Respecting your colleagues, trusting their work, and celebrating together go a long way in providing the motivation to keep us growing and moving ahead.