Training Your Assistant Quality Assurance Manager

In my 25 years in quality I have had “assistants”. yet now I truly do have one who is smart, ambitious yet reserved and new to management per se. I have been tasked with tutoring and training to the point that person can step out on their own as “A Manager".

Where would you start? How would you go about it? And what method would you use that would instill confidence in them to know they can do it?

And how do I delegate to this person without seeming like I'm abdicating, yet in reality I'm trying to train?

8 Replies
In my side, I believe is by having him shadowing you. Simply like following your activities and obviously, previously planning a cirriculum of all aspects to review with him at the end of every day. He needs to follow you but to do in his own way.
I would recommend that you draw a schedule of activities you would like covered, stating the expected outcome for each activity. It is usually helpful to add a timeline so that the trainee can hold you accountable for each item as a deliverable. The schedule brings structure to what you want to achieve. The other aspect which I find really helpful, even more helpful than the structured schedule at times, is those random coaching moments that you share with the trainee. These can include explaining why you made certain decisions the way did (I particularly like using risk assessment models for quality / food safety events), and what to prioritize when there are conflicting demands. The last part would be to listen and understand their personal style so you can help them develop on their own journey. It is tempting to project our values and expectations on others, especially those for who we are responsible, and this may not always be as helpful.
Hi Richard:
If you are looking for topic or areas for training, I would suggest using the Body of Knowledge for the CMQ/OE exam. Although this person may not have the experience to take the exam, this can be a good list of subjects to train.
Concerning delegation, my experience has been to:
  • Explain why you are giving the task to them, training and experience.
  • Have planned follow up reviews for progress and mentoring.
  • Ask for their feedback on the process.
Michael Hirt

@Richard Tanner
Hello Richard, We, of course, can only speak in generalities however I would suggest approaching this as a problem solving exercise and let's see if we can find a lower order cause. I have had a few quite intelligent individuals who have had trouble with confidence. I have seen different reasons for this. One was due to the management by bullying of those she needed to deal with. Once it was basically a cultural issue. What I am trying to day is a root cause investigation may be in order. There could be a common cause, different causes and if there are only a few cases it is possibly due to randomness. As far as delegation goes, I still find it difficult letting go, “no one does it quite like I do”. I believe it is my problem not theirs.

And if I am wrong, I see a lot of good training advice coming in already. BR!

@Richard Tanner I think you should have a frank discussion with this individual to share the long-term plan of them stepping out on their own as a lead. They should start shadowing you to “learn the ropes” and as management opportunities arise, they need to be exposed so they know how to deal with it. Everyone feels less confident when they are starting out as a leader, and that's ok. Confidence can be built over time as they learn and understand what to do in each particular situation. Delegation can be vertical or horizontal, so explain why you are passing on these tasks. Lastly, I highly recommend that you help the individual enroll in leadership courses so that they can determine their own innate leadership style and how this needs to be adjusted when managing others.

@Richard Tanner
Hello! Over the years, I have created a Howze ‘curriculum’ which specifies what I will train/teach a direct report over a 6 weeks period. I set a weekly meeting schedule for an hour so that we are face-to-face, rather than communicating by virtual or other means. The first session, of course, is to establish a two-way conversation to clarify and discuss our expectations for how we will work together, and how we will honor each other. It is also an attempt to clarify my values (e.g,. no lying, no whining, and no surprises). Clarification of values and expectations will help the direct report understand your leadership style, and you get an understanding of what they will be holding you accountable for. It is also an opportunity for a direct report to ask questions and get answers at the outset. There is a LOT more to my personalized curriculum, including history and background of Quality and the gurus, different types of planning, focuses on select industry and creative tools, teaming, data analytics, etc.

To address your delegation question, I believe delegating is not about abdication; even when you assign a task to someone else, you are STILL responsible for the results. To me, delegating is about trusting someone else to do an assignment. Giving a manager room to be creative, make mistakes, and accomplish a task that you deem appropriate, but not one you should do. I found that by identifying a deadline for when the task should be completed, and specifying when and how frequently the results are to be communicated back to me (i.e., daily, weekly, etc.) provides the opportunity for corrective action, if needed. When the employee delivers, we celebrate the success!

@Richard Tanner

Training Leaders

Training a person to be a leader is much more important then teaching the mechanical skills of management.

The trainer really needs to mentor the individual not only train them in the mechanics of filling out forms or following rules. The key to that is to care for the individual.

The first activity to listen to the trainee. Hear their concerns and reluctance to leadership. Note the gaps. Then provide that training.

It is key that the person be trained so well they can leave the company. However, treat them so well they stay.

I would at the start encourage them into joining ASQ. Get involved with a local community that they can network with. Relationship building is important for no one knows it all or should. One should have relationships so they can call, ok e-mail, people who do know.

ASQ Divisions are a good source of subject matter experts.

I would use the Fellows requirements as a road map to success. Help them develop a folder (paper and electronic) keeping the objective evidence as they move along their carrier. Encourage them to become a Senior member as soon as eligible.

Some of the key activities I would encourage are:

Join ASQ

Become a Leader in the Division and/or Section.

Join and participate in another society.

Teach internal and external to the company

Go to presentations, especially ones outside of your field.

Keep objective evidence of employment, education, recognition etc

@Daniel Sniezek
An organization's quality leader has no greater obligation than that of developing those who report to him in the local quality community and extending their knowledge to their peers who are responsible for managing processes that deliver quality in goods and/or services. The basic first step that I think is a best practice is the program at Hewlett-Packard called the Process of Management (POM) which was developed initially in 1987 when I was on the Corporate Quality staff. This was developed by a group of highly effective managers and the program was developed by collaboration of the quality team and the HR community. It consists of a six-step process for managing: (1) Establish a common purpose; (2) Build Shared Objectives; (3) Develop an Integrated Plan; (4) Lead the Local Action; (5) Evaluate Results and Process; and (6) Continuously Improve. I wrote an article in the ASQ Journal of Quality & Participation about this (see “A Comprehensive Approach to Quality Aims for Inclusive Growth: The Process of Management,” in the JQP issue of April 2021, pp. 33-37).

Best regards,