Dealing with the “Walking Dead” When Doing Safety Culture Development

Dealing with the "Walking Dead" When Doing Safety Culture Development | Call to Action!In a previous article, I introduced the Energy Investment Model developed by Claude Lineberry. The model looks at the different attitudes people have towards planned change, such as safety culture development, and how much energy they are willing to invest in that attitude.

Based on those two variables, we are able to place employees in a model that will help us decide how best to deal with them as part of an overall stakeholder management and safety culture development plan.

The Role of the Energy Investment Model

The point of the model is not to label people. At any given point in we may find ourselves inhabiting any one of the neighborhoods in the model, although we’ll have a predominant style. The best use of the model in safety culture development is to determine where people are spending most of their time so that we can develop plans to help move them closer to the Player’s Box.

The Walking Dead and Safety Culture Development

energy investment model for safety culture changeIn this article (just in time for Halloween, no less!) we’ll take a look at the Walking Dead — the folks in the southwest corner neighborhood. How did they happen to get to their current state of poor attitude and low energy, and what, if anything, can be done to help increase both energy and attitude?

To begin with, it’s worth considering how these folk got into the organization in the first place. Recruiters likely did not send out a notice saying:

“Wanted – people with poor attitudes and low energy. Please have someone drop off your application.”

Organizations look to hire the best people. So, when these people started, they were probably Players, with high energy and positive attitudes.

How People Become the Walking Dead

So what happened?

Maybe they came up with good ideas that were never acted on. Maybe they were given the unspoken message to work from the neck down. Perhaps they never received proper training or guidance for their job. Maybe they weren’t in the right jobs to begin with.  50 things you must know about safety leadership

At some point they just decided, “Why bother?”

The point is, the organization itself likely created these job personalities through undesirable styles of management. Interestingly, outside of work, many of these Walking Dead are Players, managing sports teams, running marathons, and active in social or civic affairs. But at work they’ve given up.

To revive a Walking Dead, you’ll need to use principles of support and challenge, whichever will recreate the spark they once had. Describe the benefits of the change, what their role can be, and how they can make a difference.

A Reality Check About Safety Culture Development

Unfortunately, in many cases these folks have just been too badly damaged. As such they may have to find another place to be successful; a place where they can once again be the Players they used to be.

fctc-online-bannerIn the next article in this series we’ll take a look at the Spectators, the type of people who are likely to say something like, “That’s a good idea. Why don’t you do it and let me know how it turns out?” Safety culture development does not grow passively, so we’ll need to learn some ways to mobilize this category of employee.

~Gene Drumm


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Gene Drumm

Gene Drumm is on staff with safetyBUILT-IN and contributes to the Recordable INSIGHTS Newsletter.Gene is a recognized expert on organizational culture and performance, change management, leadership, and creating values-driven corporate cultures.Over the past 20 years he has executed culture-change projects across industries on six different continents.He has also held senior staff and line positions at Microsoft, Fujitsu America and Newmont Mining Company which were focused on implementing and sustaining strategic change.His area of specialty is resolving "culture clash" and safety-leadership culture development.

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