The Changing Role of the Unit Inspector

featured in Inspectioneering Journal, July/August 2014 Issue

The Changing Role of the Unit InspectorLet’s imagine that you have just been hired or promoted to be an inspector for your organization.  If you did not realize it yet, you are now a manager of people.  Like most new managers, you were selected because of your strong performance in your previous role, but have very little, if any, management training.  You will likely have many lessons to learn as you transition into this new role.  Welcome to the world of management.  Instead of being one of us, you are now one of them, but as a newly appointed member of them, you may have questions about what your new role entails.

One difficulty new company inspectors typically have is becoming comfortable in their new role.  This is due to the fact that they have received little guidance about where they fit in with the “team.”  Where are they on the organization chart?  They know who they report to, but may not know what decisions are theirs to make and exactly what they are expected to bring to the team.  Remember that this new inspector may have been taking direction yesterday and is now expected to give direction tomorrow.

The transition from us to them can be a tricky thing.  You are no longer just responsible for completing work that was delegated to you.  You now have to hold others accountable for completing their work, and the leadership team expects you to understand and uphold the company’s goals, priorities, and long-term vision.  The people who work under you expect you to make sure their work environment is safe, productive, fair, and reasonably comfortable.  You are now responsible for a team.

You must make sure that your team continues to function correctly, and completes quality work on schedule.  You must pay attention to interpersonal dynamics that, if ignored, could be counterproductive to getting the job done.  You are no longer able to consider helping with a problem that is not normally in your job description as “going above and beyond.”  It is now your job to make sure that your unit and your team is successful, no matter what roadblocks you may encounter.  It can be overwhelming, whether you are making the transition within a place you have worked for years or starting fresh at a new organization.