In the day and age of emails, texts and social media; communication has become an ever present topic of discussion. After all, why would Led Zepplin take the time to sing about communication (and its breakdown…) if it wasn’t such a large part of our lives? But even with all the new technology we have at our fingertips today, communication has always been something that professionals are expected to master and execute with ease. This is an especially important skill set when considering quality, as communication is imperative to not only the maintenance of quality systems but also their proliferation.
How can we expect an organization to work within a given system if it is not fully aware of its existence? Several mechanisms are in place within our quality system for internal communication. Aside from emails, there are a slew of face-to-face discussions and meeting as well as training in both the spoken and written form. Job expectations and execution of tasks are documented and disseminated in order to ensure the quality system functions as it was designed. We take the time and care to work together in order to ensure we are all on the same page and moving forward as a cohesive unit.
In addition to communicating the expectations and boundaries of a quality system, one must also consider the communication of various quality-related “events.” I find that the hardest part of my job can be clearly communicating all the thoughts I have running through my head onto a piece of paper. When handling corrective actions, preventative actions, deviations, validations, qualifications and the like, it is the job of those working within the quality system to not only effectively communicate the occurrence but also to correctly capture the details. In trying to focus on effectively communicating not only the importance of quality but also operating and functioning within a quality system, I try to remember that not everyone thinks and interprets things the same way. A lot of times I have seen problems created not from a lack of communication, but rather from communication that lacks clarity. I truly do believe that communication skills are just like other skills, some people are born with them while others have to work at it. Therefore, clear and concise communication is always my number one goal.
It goes without saying effective communication can only help to improve a quality system. And when communications do breakdown, we can take great care in knowing even Led Zepplin experienced ineffective communication now and again. It happens to the best of us, even Robert Plant! Hopefully the mechanisms we have put in place and the time and care we take in crafting communiqué will help to overcome communication missteps by proving to be valuable through the creation and implantation of a culture of quality.