An interesting way to phrase it—finding freedom in responsibility. If you’re a Plant or Site Manager at an industrial company (or an executive making decisions out of corporate HQ), think about the audits and inspections you ask your frontline workers to complete each week. I’m 100% sure there is clarity around who’s responsible for completing them. But is there the same clarity around who is accountable for fixing the issues these things uncover?
As I discussed in my last post, more often than not, frontline workers never get any feedback around the audit and inspection work they are asked to complete each week. No insights that might make their jobs easier, let alone safer. Audits and inspections, as they are structured in most industrial companies today, don’t help workers get sh*t done.
In Hushed Tones
The current state of affairs concerning audit and inspection is set to do exactly what Mr. Lowe warns us against doing. Management makes it clear to frontline workers that every audit, every inspection, every completed checklist, is critical to the health of the business. The unspoken dialog follows these lines . . .
YOU, Mr. or Ms. Frontline Worker, have to complete this new audit or the whole ship comes apart. It’s a really big deal. This new checklist is as important as the United States Constitution. But, ah, by the way (in hushed tones), just so you know, if you DO happen to find an issue and capture the problem on a form, there is a pretty good chance we’re going to ignore it. By all means, please feel free to speak directly to your manager about the issue. But whatever you do, don’t tell your peers or anyone else on the team (especially my boss). We don’t want anyone blamed for the problem, now do we?
Management’s lack of engagement around audit and inspection work creates cynicism. Over time, that cynicism creates the dysfunctional professional culture that ultimately leads to low retention and employee turnover. The negative business consequences are right around the corner.
The Healing Powers of Accountability
Audit and inspection work provides a unique opportunity for industrial companies to build and foster a positive work culture based on frontline worker accountability. What if the unspoken understanding between management and the frontline went like this…
Okay, Mr. or Ms. Frontline Worker, we’re getting rid of all the paper-based checklists and forms. Complete the audits and inspections through the new technology. In return, you’ll get clear visibility into what your peers are seeing as they complete the same tasks (and a platform in which you can create a peer-to-peer dialog). You will get the training content you need to fix the problems each audit and inspection unveils. You’ll get that feedback directly through the same device you use to complete each checklist. Finally, we are going to reward you for bringing issues to light. You, me, and everyone here is accountable for making this a better and safer place to work.
How do you think that message—communicated through word and action—would be received? Think it might improve culture? Keep your most experienced and knowledgeable workers engaged and incented? We think so here at Corvex Connected Worker™.
Our new Checks™ product is an extension of our original technology toolkit; a true end-to-end connected workforce platform that aims to address transparency, accountability, and action from both the worker and management perspective. Combining a range of technologies including AI and machine learning, Checks™ creates real engagement around audits and inspections, flipping the paradigm to incent frontline workers to identify and solve problems that might lead to safety or efficiency gains.
You’re welcome to learn more about Checks™. I’m available to provide a one-on-one demonstration of the product for those who are interested.
I’d also encourage you to come back next week as we’ll have another post in this series. We discussed the importance of transparency in industrial audits and inspections last week, accountability today. Next week’s post is all about the importance of putting insight into action. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about right? Taking action to improve worker safety and business outcomes.
Thanks for your time.
P.S. We’ve put together a quick Checks™ demo that shows how transparency helps empower workers and make them and their peers accountable. Very brief, it’s a great introduction to the technology and our overall business philosophy here are Corvex Connected Worker™.
If you’d like to talk to us one-on-one, we’re available for that too. Fill out the contact us form and I’ll reach out personally to answer your questions and concerns.
1. HRD Connect - The Importance of Accountability - https://www.hrdconnect.com/2018/08/28/the-importance-of-accountability/