Quality Communication

Communication (both written and verbal) is vital to any business or industry, but it is especially important when in science and engineering fields.  Errors in communication in a lab or industrial setting can be catastrophic from both monetary and human safety perspectives, so it is absolutely necessary that miscommunication between employees is minimized

Ideally, my future career path will lead me to a management position, so to try and find out what sort of communication is necessary for leaders at scientific companies I decided to talk to a longtime family friend, Doreen McHugh.  Doreen oversees quality control operations at Lab Corp, which runs a variety of biological testing, and she is responsible for ensuring that tests are run correctly and that her employees are properly reporting accurate results.  Although she works with biological field rather than the energy field (which is what I want to go into), many of her tasks are similar to what I would like to do someday.  She ensures that everything within her company is running smoothly and is meeting certain standards, which is something that I would like to do someday.

I started off our conversation by telling her of my desire to work my way up to a managerial position within my chosen field and she had some great advice for me.  She said that she had been promoted to her position not only because of her extensive knowledge of all of the various aspects of the lab testing, but also because her assertiveness and confidence in that knowledge.  She knows enough about the lab testing to realize when someone is doing something wrong and is firm in her reinforcement of the testing procedures, which makes her an ideal supervisor of quality control.

As the head of quality control for her lab, Doreen must interact on a daily basis both with upper management and technical level employees.   When I asked her about her biggest challenges with communication, she said that the most common trial was determining which mode of communication is best suited to what she’s trying to accomplish.  If she has concerns about an employee’s lab results, an email inquiry or a quick in person conversation is usually sufficient to resolve or to get a retest of the unexpected results. However, if something is determined to be fundamentally wrong with a certain procedure, or is an employee is not engaging in best practices with his or her work, then a formal written document must be composed and submitted to upper management in order to notify the appropriate people that the problem is occurring.

Speaking with Doreen about the various aspects of her job and the necessity of proper communication in order for her company to function was very enlightening for me.  It gave me some insight on the sort of attitude that is required to be given power within a company, and it also helped me to realize the importance of communication between all facets of a laboratory operation.

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