People who are authentically satisfied with their careers are often skilled decision makers. This comes naturally to some. But anyone can improve their decision-making skills. The scientific principles used to deliver 5-star rated products and services include a decision-making approach that’s been proven to result in high quality. When applied to your career, it can kickstart your professional momentum and focus.
The science of quality management has been used by global industry giants for more than a century. It tells us that the probability of achieving your desired long-term outcome dramatically increases when you embrace this approach to decision making — and apply it to your career.
It breaks down into 11 powerful but simple steps:
1. Define your vision for a great career. Spend time creating clear specifications that describe the career worth 5-stars to you. Then view that career as a product that you are going to build.
2. Stick to the process. Accept that every career decision you make must support the production of the career you’ve defined.
3. Know your options. Be sure to identify all options available in every decision you make.
4. Focus on your autonomy. Consider how much each option is within your power to execute independently.
5. Weigh the risks. Consider how each option poses potential risks to your product.
6. Assess. If all your options seem too difficult, too risky, and/or too dependent on elements far beyond your control, back up, and rethink — see Step 7.
7. Allow discomfort. Don’t be fooled by your lack of seemingly good options. There are always options. They may simply be choices that you don’t prefer — they may require you to change, move, give up something, work harder than you expected, delay gratification, etc. Don’t confuse these with the risk to your product. These are risks to your comfort level.
8. Consider what you can control. Look at your options again, ignoring all that, and assess the potential risk each has to your product. The key is to base decisions, as much as possible, on what is within your scope of control. What you don’t know and can’t control are the risks.
9. Contemplate the risks’ probability and potential impact. For each potential risk you’ve identified, consider the likelihood of it happening, and the severity of the impact, should it happen.
10. Dive into the details. For each potential risk, consider if you 1) can accept it, 2) mitigate it to reduce the probability that it will occur and/or the severity of its impact, or 3) cannot accept it. A few universal examples:
· I’m willing to accept that my mother may be sad that I’ve decided not to pursue a career in plastic surgery. For years, she’s been giddily talking about how I could do all her “work” at low cost someday. She’ll have to make other plans; I’m an adult and must build the career — or product — that will provide satisfaction to me as an authentic individual.
· My boss will be so upset if I leave the company. She’s put so much into mentoring me. But if I choose to stay, I will significantly delay building the career (or product) I want to create for myself. I can accept the risk that she may be upset and not give me a good recommendation. I believe I can mitigate that risk by putting thought into the breaking the news to her in a way that is genuine and expresses how much I have and always will appreciate what she’s done for me. In the end, if she still gets upset, I’ll have to accept that I have made the best decision towards building my product.
· I cannot accept the option of taking a promotion that will require me to spend two years in China. For several reasons, I can’t move my kids there, and I’m unwilling to be that far away from them for that long. It may be good for my career, but it will not be good for our family. I will choose another option.
11. Take the unacceptable risks off the table. Cross off all the options that come with unacceptable risks. Even if they appear to be the best possible or easiest option to get what you want and fast. For example:
· The fastest option for Sally to get her hands on the $10K she genuinely needs to purchase a new car is to ask her sweet 95-year-old grandmother for the money. Sally knows that her grandmother will give her the money no matter what; she’d have her car within two weeks.
· After assessing the potential risks associated with this option, Sally takes it off the table: it goes against her personal standards. Although it would be easy and fast, she isn’t willing to take that much money from her grandmother, who lives on a fixed income and doesn’t always share the challenges she’s facing.
What’s Right for You
In the end, the best options or decisions are those that fall within your personal scope of control and have potential associated risk(s) that you can either accept or mitigate. They can provide the highest level of assurance that you will build the product you envision.
Companies that consistently deliver 5-star products and services can’t afford to guess, hope, ignore the facts, do what feels best, go with the fastest and easiest option every time, or simply wait and see what the heck happens. Take the same approach with your career — and your life. You only have one chance to live authentically, so don’t waste your time on dealing with outcomes of suboptimal decisions. Use the science-based approach to achieve the 5-star career of your dreams.
This guest post was authored by Penelope Przekop
Penelope is a corporate quality management expert, entrepreneur, and writer. Throughout her 30+-year career, she has worked with numerous Fortune 100 pharma companies, including Pfizer, Merck, Lilly, and Glaxo Smith Kline, and held leadership positions at Novartis, Covance, Wyeth, and Johnson & Johnson. She is the founder and CEO of PDC Pharma Strategy and serves as the Chief Compliance Officer for Engrail Therapeutics. She is the author of Six Sigma for Business Excellence (McGraw-Hill) and four novels: Please Love Me, Aberrations, Centerpieces, and Dust. Przekop earned a BS in Biology from Louisiana State University and an MS in Quality Systems Engineering from Kennesaw State University.
She is a graduate of the Smith College Program for Women’s Leadership and the Rutgers University Senior Leadership Program for Professional Women. In 2018, Przekop and her older daughter founded Bra in a Box, which has been featured in Real Simple and New York Magazine. She lives in the Greater Philadelphia Area with her husband of 30 years. Her new book is Five Star Career: Define and Build Yours Using the Science of Quality Management. Learn more at penelopeprzekop.com and www.pdcstrategy.com.