To Go From a Zero to a Management Hero

Robert F. Mager, Experience Trainer, once said “To go from a zero to a management hero to answer these question you’ll strive” Where am I going? How will I get there? and How will I know I’ve arrived”?

With these thoughts in mind, you, as management, must decide what direction that you want your process to go. Do you want to just become compliance with regulatory standards or customer driven in nature or do you want to develop a system that will drive support of your management process?

From a Safety or Quality Professional point of view, let’s explore the Zero question. What does a zero injury or quality system really look like? Some professionals may say that achieving zero is not a creditable or a realistic goal. While other professionals say that it is the only direction to go. The question: Do you want to apply a zero concept to your process?

I would say to anyone reading this that you have to lead people to believe that zero is possible. I remember starting a new Safety position where injuries were higher than normal. I was asked the question on my first day: What would you do to reduce injuries. Of course my answer, based on my experience, is to strive for zero. The reaction was: “Get realistic. It is not possible, we have never achieved zero before.” My response: If do not think it and create the image you will not achieve your goals and objectives. You have to create the mind set. So, over the next few years the injury rate decreased and the mindset was achieved. This took a lot of selling and was not easy. But the key is to be consistent in what you think and how you present your product of zero.

And the truth of the matter is that with management support and getting employees involved in the process is possible and can be realized quickly if you create a system of trust. We can implement all of the programs in the world, create all of the activities we want, add all of the safety guards to equipment to try and prevent injuries, but if employees do not truly believe that management is committed or serious, then reducing injuries or producing a quality product probably will not occur. It is my opinion that if you do not have a mindset of zero that you will never achieves the ultimate goal, a workplace without injuries or a quality product. You will constantly be reacting to the situation and become a “fire fighter” instead of a “problem solver.”

Some behaviorist would like for you to believe that you must implement a behavior-based process, which really came from Total Quality Management (TQM), or change will not occur. This is all a matter of opinion and must be explored in much more details. One must remember that a behavior-based safety process is not the total answer to reducing injuries.

The ironic part and the bottom line of what I am trying to convey here is that we as a society do not use our employee as effectively as we can. The key to success is employee participation.  It is FREE and must be utilized to it fullest. Sometimes we do not leverage employees as we should. After all who really knows the process better than anyone? So why not trust the source and ask a simple question: How can we improve the process? You will be surprised what you can accomplish.

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Sunny Duran