I was preparing to close for the day when my Manager sent for me. On entering the room, I noticed other managers. It was obvious they have all been waiting for me. “Wale, I understand some of the products have been placed under Quality hold in preparation for sorting?” “Yes sir”, I said scanning my boss’s face for clues. Then in his most deliberate and authoritative tone, he said. “I am the … Director and I want you to release those products for sale immediately”. Then he added, “I know the risk and I am ready to accept full responsibility.” I broke out in cold sweat.
The annual appraisal was just about the corner and here I am between the devil and the deep sea. “Sir, from our experience, the defect is always about 1-2%, and …’’. He interrupted me and roared “exactly Wale. This is the reason why I am ready to take the risk. 1% of 100 tons is insignificant. My friend, I don’t have much time, go and release the product right now to the trade”. “Ok sir”, I replied. I was deep in thought and confused at the same time. Looking at his face, I knew he was dead serious but…is this the best decision? I thought.
Sales have been good on this particular product but we’ve also had quality issues in recent past. I was not too sure my boss was fully aware of the implication of his decision. I made as if I was going out of his office ,then turned back and said, “Boss , 1% defect of this product is equivalent to 1000 consumer units, meaning 1000 consumers”. I waited for his reaction. He raised his head and looked at me. It was his turn to look dazed. Then he said “Really? I never viewed it from that perspective. 1000 consumer units? That is much. Go and do your sorting before releasing the product. But I need it done faster” “ Yes sir’’ I shouted. It was a great relief for me.
True leaders don’t want “yes” men. If you see your boss steering for rocks, as a professional, please raise your hand and say something. You are also on the ship. Here are a few tips to help you
- Think like a business leader. Develop a reputation for treating every major HSEQ decision like a business decision, not just an HSEQ decision.
- Remember you are the expert. Work like a credible consultant. Know the standards and applicable legislations and think of how you can add value to the business.
- Be open and honest. Where possible always support your position with data. It was Edwards Deming that said, “In God we trust, all others must bring data.”
4 It is ok to voice a dissenting opinion but be respectful and make sure you have an alternative.