“Oh stop all of that complaining”!
We can remember hearing our parents tell us that as kid, can’t we? Some of us can even recall how it was often just easier to make excuses for our failures as children rather than own up and get our punishments and unfortunately, some of us occasionally still catch ourselves making these excuses now as ADULTS!
Yes, some things never change and some stay the same. However, having accountability for our own actions is paramount in achieving success and also in maintaining a sense of calm in all facets of our lives.
Whether it’s knowing that the 15 year old babysitter is responsibly watching over your children as parents pull down the driveway on a rare date night out or if it’s knowing that a barber will not ruin a groom’s haircut on the morning of his wedding day, we can take a deep sigh of relief knowing that people and services that we trust can be held accountable for what we asked them to do. Accountability isn’t just important in our personal situations but, it’s a main objective in business.
So who holds OURSELVES accountable?
Imagine going to work every day and being paid for tasks that we never actually complete. How would we ever get anything done without supervision? Everyone isn’t so honest and everyone does not have strong work ethic. So what if we were supposed to supervise ourselves? Would we get everything done or simply point fingers at others for goals that we didn’t meet? The classic childhood joke “my dog ate my homework” comes to mind, right?
To stop all of the excuse making and finger pointing, several businesses rely on a particular mindset of holding employees accountable for their own work flow and abilities. This overall philosophy ultimately helps employees achieve their top work performance goals without being stuck in the cycle of bad time management choices, low productivity and as a result, needing to blame others for not finishing their job tasks. The healthy philosophy is called the Oz Principle and it helps businesses thrive every day in the workplace.
What is the Oz Principle?
‘The Oz Principle’ concept came from a 1994 best-selling book by the authors, Roger Connors, Tom Smith, and Craig Hickman. The main idea is that businesses can allow themselves to be vulnerable to goals not being met due to employees not being held accountable for their own work ethic. The Oz Principle focuses on the desire or lack thereof for individuals in a work environment to accomplish their own daily tasks and personal business goals WITHOUT needing to slack off and to then blame others for being unsuccessful.
Let’s think back for a moment to the last time that we all could have used a little Oz Principle thinking in our OWN jobs. When was the last time that you or a colleague dropped the ball at work from their own lack of focus or hard work ethic? Was anyone held accountable for their OWN ability to complete the job successfully? Perhaps there was an excuse for why the tasks were not done correctly. Was there finger pointing?
It’s clear to see that the Oz Principle can be applied in any business model of making sure that employees have a sense of pride in their own choices and job performance.
What Is Lean Manufacturing? And How Is The Oz Principle Used In Lean Manufacturing?
Like any other business industry, Lean Manufacturing is a type of business that has its own challenges in maintaining successful goals being met by employees. Lean Manufacturing is a system of production that focuses on minimizing 8 forms of waste: Defects, overproduction, waiting, not utilizing talent, transportation, motion waste, and excessive processing. In order to examine how the Oz Principle can be used in Lean Manufacturing, let’s break down how the accountability concepts can be applied to avoiding the 8 forms of waste:
- Accountability in Avoiding Overproduction
Overproduction is the waste of producing too many products and can be avoided by more focus on the accounting and accuracy of the overall production process. Being accountable for reducing overproduction can be as simple as keeping a closer eye on the counting and not being distracted so easily resulting in excessive products being created as a result. If an employees likes to sing along to music and sometimes misses an accurate product count, this can be avoided if the employees notes this as the cause for error and opts to no longer sing along while counting the products coming off the manufacturing line.
- Accountability in Avoiding Long Waiting Times
Who really likes to wait? We tap our toe in long lines and cringe when we are on calls that put us on hold. In Lean Manufacturing, bad timing and improper scheduling can result in production delays, shipping and deliveries which can often lead to long waiting periods for orders to come in. Watch the clock better and avoid waiting in the end.
- Accountability in Avoiding Transportation
In Lean Manufacturing, delivery trucks, machinery and transit time of people beyond the work area can create problems if transportation is not planned out well. If an employee can make good choices and be held accountable for making sure that transportation is working correctly, this can avoid production problems later on connected to transit and delivery.
- Accountability in Avoiding Excess Processing
No one needs 10 scanners in a small office with one printer. Whoever ordered those extra 9 scanners should note the error and send them back or sell them to free up space in the office. This would be an example of being held accountable to avoid dealing with excess processing.
- Accountability in Avoiding Inventory Excess
Don’t want to be the one employee left behind decluttering excess inventory? No worries. Employees who hold themselves accountable will be maintaining those areas throughout the work day so they can leave on time at the end of their shift.
- Accountability in Avoiding Motion Waste
Wasted motion can be a simple series of choices gone wrong that result in slower movement of goods and services. Were cars ordered to deliver catering that needed a huge truck? If so, who was responsible for that decision? Accountability often can be choosing wisely and making sure that motion and momentum isn’t wasted on the wrong choice of vehicles.
- Accountability in Avoiding Defects
Since defects are a waste of supplies, money, machinery, time and labor for Lean Manufacturers, employee accountability can be important in avoiding errors and concentrating more closely on production details. For example, if a manufacturer has a group of employees who always loved to chat with each other and as a result, they were guilty of making several errors that lead to defects, if the employee used the Oz Principle, these employees hold themselves accountable. The immediate solution would be that the employees focused more on the product and stop chatting as much. This would result in less defects.
- Accountability in Avoiding Not Utilizing Talent
Should Stacy be a manager with no management experience? Probably not. If your choices in HR put Stacy in a position that led to hundreds of orders being delayed or damaged due to her not knowing how to manage… This problem goes back to who hired her. In this case, accountability goes back to who caused the situation and who can correct it. Utilizing talent is about making sure employees are properly placed in positions that they are qualified for.
Yes, being held accountable isn’t always easy but in fact, it can even be a step in avoiding FUTURE problems down the road. Sometimes the first step in accountability is simply not to make excuses! The next step in accountability is not blaming others. No one wants to be known as Tammy the Tattle Tail! If employees spend more time pointing fingers and going out of their way to undermine or discredit coworkers in order to make themselves look better, it’s counter-productive. Even worst, it can be a reputation buster in a workplace and make it where employees don’t want to work with that person who’s constantly blaming others.
Sometimes accountability can also be about wanting to be a team player and an overall problem solver.
Imagine this scenario…
There’s big client breakfast meeting scheduled to land a huge account for a firm. The conference room is all set up and the clients are scheduled to arrive in 20 minutes. Breakfast was ordered with the boss’ credit card even though the boss is still commuting in and not arriving until probably a few minutes before the clients arrive. So when the breakfast food is delivered, the boss’ card number previously given DECLINES! The boss isn’t picking up any attempted calls. Meanwhile the delivery person is there waiting to be paid the $100 for breakfast delivery.
What would YOU do?
In this example of how accountability works… If it were an employee who was a ‘natural born problem solver’ standing in front of the delivery person waiting for the $100 payment, they’d probably pay for the breakfast with their credit card and simply get reimbursed later in the day, after the boss arrives and after the big client leaves the breakfast conference meeting. This is often how problem solver hold themselves accountable. They simply have a ‘fix it’ mindset vs finding fault or finger pointing. In this example, the client is the main priority and any internal office issues should be handled quietly and quickly behind the scenes to save the breakfast meeting.
So as we see here, the Oz principle guides everyone to the place of ‘accountability’ and makes us all want to be better employees, better people and ultimately work harder at achieving our goals. What point is there in having a strong skill set and not giving 100% to get the job done to the best of one’s abilities? Anyone can point a finger and blame another coworker or make excuses of WHY the task was not done as requested. Anyone can say “Hey, my boss didn’t give me the correct credit card so, the breakfast was never paid for”. But how many of us CHOOSE problem solving over excuse making? How many conflicts can be resolved by simply taking accountability for the part that one plays in their own work situations?
There’s a strict dress code for employees at several financial institutions. Men are expected to wear dark suits and women are expected to dress conservatively and with minimal jewelry and simple hairstyles. The perception is that a conservatively dressed employee of a financial institution would appear to be more trustworthy. To financial institutions who use these strict dress codes for employees, the idea of clients sharing personal finances with someone dressed in a neon orange sweatshirt mini dress and fishnet stockings would NOT send a message of “Yes, your money is safe here with me”.
So imagine what would happen if an employee decided to ignore the dress code and wear something provocative into the financial workplace that day. It would be interesting to see how the employee would react when their supervisor calls them into the office to tell the employee “You aren’t in dress code. We have to ask you to go home and change. Your pay will be docked for the time that you aren’t here today.” Should the employee get upset as if they were the victim of a cruel joke?
Maybe the employee should take a second and think about what REALLY happened. They broke dress code and they should not be shocked that they were asked to go home.
This is what employee accountability is all about. The Oz Principle helps employees change the way that they receive criticism and helps them grow into stronger in achieving their goals in the workplace. Thanks to the Oz Principle we now can see that…
Accountability is everything.
How can digital signage support the Oz Principle?
Digital signage supports accountability by sharing status. Digital signage communicates real-time, weekly, monthly and quarterly KPIs (key performance indicators) which communicates important results. Digital signage can also deliver newsletters and management messages to reinforce company culture and improve internal communication and employee engagement.
- Lean.org — The Lean Enterprise Institute Inc.
- Simul 8 Lean Managment Software — https://www.simul8.com/8-wastes-of-lean.pdf
- Merriam Webster Dictionary — https://www.merriam-webster.com/
- The Oz Principle — Authors Roger Connors, Tom Smith, and Craig Hickman