I’m going to break a basic rule that seems self-evident when talking about books. I’m going to recommend you read The Oz Principle. However, I have to warn you I have only read at it.
A couple of years ago I first glanced through the book when rifling through a co-workers bookshelf. (Everyone just snags books off bookshelves, don’t they?) I was intrigued with some of what I saw in the early parts. I then bought my own copy and, again, only read at it. (Time and work and distractions such as Spongebob Squarepants and Aqua Team Hunger Force can take their toll.) But I did keep coming back to some of the points that were being raised.
What has brought the book back to my attention was my visit to the local Walden’s bookstore which has books at 30% to 50% off as part of the store’s closing sale. (Let us all take a moment to hang our heads in shame over the demise of bookstores – any and all of them. Yeah, electronic readers may be the way the world is going, but there is nothing like books, or shopping in bookstores, or perusing the shelves for that surprise find, or…well, enough of that – back to the actual point of this posting.) As part of the sale (remember – I mentioned the sale before that really long parenthetical aside?), I picked up a new copy of The Oz Principle. I opened it up and zeroed in on the same sections to which I always gravitate.
Now, I want to go through one more aside before I get to the point. From what I’ve seen (again, I still need to read the whole thing), the point of the book is to help individuals build personal responsibility. It starts by talking about “below the line thinking” and “the victim cycle”, then discusses how individuals (and organizations) can get “above the line”. I may be completely wrong about that, because my focus continues to be on that first part.
Which lead us to the whole point of this posting (and I appreciate those of you who have stuck around this long.) I keep seeing that victim cycle exhibited around me; in particular, the common stages of the victim cycle the authors have defined.
1. Ignore/Deny –Pretending not to know there is a problem, remaining unaware that the problem affects them, or choosing to deny the problem altogether.
2. It’s Not My Job – Recognizing that something needs to get done, coupled with an acute avoidance of getting involved.
3. Finger-Pointing – Denying their own responsibility for poor results
4. Tell Me What to Do – Using confusion to alleviate themselves of accountability
5. Cover Your Tail –Crafting of elaborate and precise stories as to why they couldn’t possibly be blamed for something that might go wrong
6. Wait and See – Quite simply, waiting to see if things will get better
I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen all of these behaviors exhibited by auditees. Further, as a supervisor, I’ve seen these practices or heard these exact phrases from employees. (Why is it that “It’s not my job” and “Just tell me what you want me to do” seem to resonate?) My guess is each of you has your own stories about such situations. And, if you look closely, you have seen yourself (I know I’ve seen myself) exhibit each of these stages.
Which all gets me back to the beginning; I really need to complete this book. One, it might hold the solutions on how to handle auditees who exhibit the traits. Two, it might hold the solutions on how to handle employees who exhibit these traits. Three, it might help me get out of the victim cycle when I see myself exhibiting the traits.
Being a popular book, I’m guessing some of you have already read it. What are your thoughts about the book and how you have applied it to auditees, employees, and yourself?