8 New Year’s Resolutions for Quality Professionals

‘Tis the season to set New Year’s resolutions. With 2015 behind us and a whole new year ahead, now is a great time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished over the past year, as well as on areas in which we might improve. New Year’s resolutions offer a great opportunity for those who have put off making the changes they aspire to make.

Looking ahead, we all undoubtedly have certain goals we’d like to accomplish, some more realistic than others. Someday you may become a billionaire with six-pack abs traveling the world without a care in the world. but it’s not likely to be in 2016. For quality professionals, here are some more attainable goals to consider this year.

Resolution 1: Get and Stay More Organized.

Trying to stay up to date with tasks, projects and dates – both professional and personal – can lead to the feeling of losing control. These things can mount up quickly, and when they’re kept only in your head, something important is likely to slip through the cracks. This year, keep track of tasks by carrying a pen and small notepad or planner and writing them down. Or organize notes and to-do lists with a smartphone app like Evernote, which automatically syncs documents between your work computer and your smartphone, storing everything online.

Resolution 2: Build on Your Expertise.

As ideas shift and practices evolve in your industry and profession, keep up with changes by devouring relevant trade publications, webinars, blogs and other free or low-cost resources. Aim to learn something new every day. Look deeper into job areas you can improve, and find ways to enhance your current knowledge and skills in those areas. Even if your employer’s immediate budget doesn’t allow for professional training and development, you can take advantage of relatively cost-effective tutorials and courses offered by Lynda.com, among others, to keep your skill set up to date.

Resolution 3: Get Certified.

Professional certifications demonstrate a proficiency within, and comprehension of, specific competencies. For instance, the American Society for Quality (ASQ) currently offers 17 certifications that flex a wide range of quality professionals’ knowledge and skills, and MasterControl’s certification program validates users’ expertise in the use of MasterControl products and technology. Such certifications can help quality professionals increase their income and promotion potential, as well as job security and employment opportunities.

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Resolution 4: Grow Your Network.

This year, aim to be more proactive in making and maintaining meaningful professional connections. Look up former colleagues you’ve lost touch with, attend industry tradeshows and conferences, participate in professional meetups in your area, clean up and enhance your LinkedIn profile, and leverage other social networking tools to build relationships. Remember that social media is social, meaning it’s important not to just blast posts at people, but to interact, engage, ask and answer questions, comment and altogether use these tools as community builders.

Resolution 5: Review Your Career Plan.

Reflect on what you wanted to accomplish career-wise over the past year and what you actually accomplished. Ask yourself, “What are my long-term career goals, and what are the short-term activities required to reach these goals? What knowledge, skill sets and values are needed to have a quality job I love and to feel fulfilled by my work?” Write down your new goals for the year, and set realistic deadlines to achieve them. Review your goals and progress in meeting those goals throughout 2016, and update your career plan as needed.

Resolution 6: Continuously Improve, Each and Every Day.

Take time each day to make small, incremental improvements in your daily activities. There’s always room for on-the-job improvement, such as managing projects or prioritizing tasks better, and making small changes over time can lead to big results. Reflect on what you personally can do to be more efficient and deliver greater value on a daily basis, and focus on improving one thing over a set period of time. Set a S.M.A.R.T. goal, choose an approach – whether it’s Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA), individual kaizen or another approach – and stick with it until you reach your goal, and then build on it.

Resolution 7: Get Inspired.

It’s easy to get bogged down in the same old, same old. This year, get inspired. Inspiration can come from unexpected places, and often you’ll find that people in other industries face similar problems as you but have found different ways to solve them. Watch TED Talks, and read articles on subjects you’re unfamiliar with in trade magazines outside of your industry – and look for different perspectives on similar problems you face in your own job. A seemingly irrelevant process, product, service or message may provide a clever idea that may apply to your own quality work.

Resolution 8: Don’t Forget to Recharge.

It isn't always easy to juggle the demands of a career in quality and a personal life, particularly when you have a family, but it’s important to have balance. Work-life balance isn’t just about taking vacations, as your individual work-life balance is likely to vary over time, and even daily. To maintain energy and engagement in the workplace and in the home requires recharging on a regular basis. This year, take time each week to do something that helps you reduce stress, be present and maintain harmony in key aspects of your life. It will help you to be your best self, both in the workplace and outside of it.

What professional goals do you hope to accomplish in 2016, and how do you plan to get there? Let us know in the comments section below.

David Butcher has been writing about business and technology trends in the industrial B2B space for more than a decade. Currently a marketing communications specialist at MasterControl, he previously served as editor of ThomasNet News’ Industry Market Trends and as assistant editor for Technology Marketing Corp.’s Customer Interaction Solutions. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the State University of New York, Purchase.