ENGAGEMENT: THE KEY TO CHANGING YOUR SAFETY CULTURE
By Phil La Duke
Whether it be safety, or quality, or any other business element, resistance to learning poses the greatest threat to organizational growth. And this is especially true in safety. I’ve talked with dozens of organizations that will tell me that the biggest cause of injuries is (blank), and yet when I examine the data it just isn’t true. The organization’s first response is typically to challenge the data, but ultimately it is the company’s lack of a robust problem-solving methodology and, more significantly, a lack of value placed on problem solving itself that is responsible for their problems.
In my experience there is a direct correlation between those organizations with ineffectual problem-solving methodologies and/or a poor problem-solving structure. When I have been the most successful in refining corporate cultures I have essentially helped the organizations do three simple, yet powerful things:
1) Engage the ENTIRE workforce. Workforce-wide engagement starts with you. Stop bellyaching that you get no support from leadership and start leading. However, engagement starts with trust, and that may never be possible for you and your organization. If that is the case, it is time to get out and find a place that will foster that trust and respect. But you do need to recognize your role in the process. People tend to trust people who they believe are trustworthy, but there is enough to say there to fill another column.
2) Create a blame-free Just Culture. In my opinion, it is impossible to make a Just Culture work without first having a sufficiently engaged workforce, so don’t attempt this step before verifying that you have significant progress toward this end.
3) Foster an atmosphere where problem solving is valued and effective. Too many problem-solving efforts are poorly designed and even more poorly executed.
It amounts to this: If you want to foster a culture in which individuals value worker safety, you must build an environment of trust and learning. There are no short cuts, no magic bullets, and no bag of tricks that will take you there. You must work hard and stay focused to achieve it.
About the Author: Phil La Duke is a partner in the Performance Assurance Practice at ERM: Environmental Resources Management, 3352 128th Avenue, Holland, MI 49424, 313-244-2525, www.erm.com. You can also follow Phil and reach him on his blogs at www.philladuke.wordpress.com.