By John Hidley
In the two previous installments, I explained each of the two basic steps an organization can take to improve the effectiveness of its safety leadership:
- Evaluating where you are and determining where you need to be; and
- Identifying critical leadership behaviors.
Today, I'll conclude the series by describing how two organizations used these principles to improve their safety performance.
Implementing a Leadership Development System
Once an organization has defined its desired culture and created a specific plan of measurable practices and behaviors for each leader, they need to complete the loop by creating a system to monitor and reinforce the leaders' efforts to move the culture in the desired direction.
As with the previous two steps, the implementation of the leadership development system will vary depending on the organization's perceived gaps in leadership and objectives. What's important is that the system support ongoing improvement in the newly identified leadership practices and thereby promote effective movement forward in the organization.
Leadership Development at Work
Forward-looking organizations are already using these principles to redefine leadership and improve safety performance. Here are two examples:
Example 1: Rebuilding the Safety Culture at an Industrial Service Company
When new management took over the operations of this industrial service company, one of its first challenges was to rebuild the company's safety culture. A combination of poor safety practices and infrastructure problems had eroded morale and trust, presaging problems and poor performance. Rather than take a more traditional "enforcement only" approach, the management team decided to give senior leaders, middle managers and supervisors active roles in safety improvement.
First, to improve collaboration with shopfloor employees around safety issues, supervisors engaged in training on behavioral science tools. Next, senior leaders met for one day at an off-site workshop with middle managers from all of the organization's sites. They used the workshop to generate a common understanding of what they needed to do for safety and how to go about it. This involved specifying three high-impact leadership practices that all leaders and managers would work to inculcate into their organizations.
After the workshop the senior leaders and managers received coaching in how to use behavioral science tools to implement the leadership practices in their organizations. Each manager applied the leadership practices, which then became the focus of his or her safety accountability plan.
As a result of daily work on their leadership practices and implementation of their various action plans, the company has reported dramatic changes in its safety culture as well as a decrease in incident frequency rate. In particular, the company is showing significant increases in such key organizational factors as workgroup relations, management credibility, upward communication and organizational value for safety. The company has since formalized its leadership safety process.
Example 2: Enhancing Existing Safety Initiatives at a Packaging Manufacturer
This flexible packaging manufacturer was already considered highly successful when site leadership recognized an opportunity to improve safety by implementing an employee-driven safety process. Senior leaders at the site were trained to support the new process and to further develop their own skills.
Using a workshop approach, the leaders identified a set of practices to strengthen their organization's culture. Individual leaders reviewed their performance on a leadership survey and determined how to use the process to develop their skills. They then tracked how they implemented their own key leadership behaviors, quantified their performance, and tracked their impact on the employee-driven safety process.
The effect of leadership has increased organizational support surrounding all safety activities. Managers and supervisors throughout the organization are getting involved in the safety improvement initiative in new and significant ways. The employees recognize the effects of this involvement; it is a new kind of collaboration.
Conclusion: Moving Forward
Leaders can make significant contributions to the safety performance of their organizations by leveraging their own actions to create a high-performing culture. As they build up performance levels in safety, they also build a culture that sustains improved performance across functions. Organizations are already beginning to use this approach to strengthen their behavior-based safety efforts, establish a platform for overall excellence in safety, and to build a foundation for excellent leadership in every organizational endeavor.
This article is based on one that originally appeared in the January/February 2004 issue of Perspective Magazine and is reprinted with permission.
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE LUNCH HOUR?
The mastodon; the Hula Hoop; and now, the lunch hour. . .
Are your employees taking a proper lunch break? According to a recent study, the traditional lunch "hour" may be on its way to extinction. Now it lasts an average of 31 minutes. Why is the lunch hour now a misnomer? According to the study:
- The work environment has changed (35%)
- People take less time for lunch so they can leave earlier (22%)
- Employees are under more pressure to perform (22%)
- Time spent working in teams is forcing employees to spend more time on individual assignments and thus less time for lunch (21%)
Only 3% of respondents said that they were taking shorter lunch breaks to impress the boss. So I guess that means that there's little connection between the brown bagger and the brown noser.
Source: Workplace Index Survey on the Nature of Work 2005, Steelcase Inc.
IS THERE A SAFETY HAZARD IN YOUR TOOLBOX?
Have you seen this drill? If so, send it back.
The 3/8-Inch Drive Cordless Drill/Driver has been voluntarily recalled due to safety hazards. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, the product's battery packs can overheat, expand and possibly rupture, creating an explosion or thermal burn hazard. Mac Tools, the distributor, has received six reports of battery packs rupturing while charging and one report of the battery pack rupturing while in use, causing minor skin burns to the user.
Products involved include:
MAC-brand 14.4 volt (part number CDD14438 or CDD14438-KIT) and 18.0 volt (part number CDD18012 or CDD18012-KIT) 3/8-inch drive cordless drill/drivers. Look for the part number on the side of the drill near the logo.
For more information, contact Mac Tools Repair Department toll-free at 877.622.3492.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Dear SafetyXChange Members:
SafetyXChange is a community. And like all communities, it's beset by challenges and controversy. We want to know your views and how you deal with these issues. More importantly, we want to share your views and ideas with fellow SafetyXChange members. So from now on, we'll be posing a Question of the Week.
This week's question:
What's the best way to make sure that employees really understand the training you provide?