Minimizing “Interference” in Your Safety Coaching

Minimizing "Interference" in Your Safety CoachingLast issue we looked at the first of many potential sources of interference when coaching safety performance and behaviors.  “Interference” is anything that might diminish the ability of the person you are coaching to make the improvements you want them to make.

The first source of interference that we looked at last issue, “telling v. asking,” is just the tip of the iceberg.  There we saw that by focusing on the ideas of the person you’re coaching instead of your ideas, there’s a much greater opportunity for that person to “own” and internalize those improvements.  Here are some other sources of interference that you’ll need to overcome to give your safety coaching the best chance of succeeding.

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Eric Svendsen

Eric Svendsen, Ph.D., is Principal and lead change agent for safetyBUILT-IN, a safety-leadership learning and development organization. He has over 20 years experience in creating and executing outcomes-based leadership development and culture change initiatives aligned to organizational goals, and he personally led the safety-culture initiatives of a number of client organizations that resulted in “best ever safety performance” years for those companies.


  1. hi Eric a well balance article, I guess I see this as the crust or surface issues but there are many other issues which affect the individual in relation to receiving both positive or negative feedback, their personality and experiential development arising from experiences within all of their domains such as home, school, social context and work can have bearing on the ability in all spheres of their life, language and cultural factors also play a part. I guess the point of this is to say I agree with addressing the issue not the person however you need to UNDERSTAND the person to know how to approach and engage them to achieve your expected results. I think there is still a huge gulf between our expectations relating to employees abilities to meet them when many stay unsaid, and without discussion this cannot be controlled or improved. When a person arrives at work they don’t magically stop being a person or themselves and become an employee.

    • Well stated, Braid.

      • Aaron Olifant says:

        Hi Eric, I am of opinion that interference may be necessary when the coached is applying sub-standard approach, whether due to lack of knowledge or deliberately. The easier approach is by getting the attention of the coached and then acknowledging the right things that they are doing. Allow the person to tell the deviations from correct processes and in this way it can be easier to find out why improper process is applied.
        I concur with you that the coached should be able to own up to his/her actions and also own up to their remedial actions. Excellent information. Thank you.

      • Thanks, Aaron. I guess I’d need to see the definition of “sub-standard approach” before I can comment on this.

        • Aaron Olifant says:

          Hi Eric, by sub-standard approach I actually meant the situation where a person may work unsafe and thus being exposed to possibility of injury or disease, eg. working without using necessary personal protection or using improper tools.
          In this case resources were provided but not used. I hope this will give you some clarity in my use of “sub-standard approach”

        • Aaron Olifant says:

          Hi Eric, by using the “sub-standard approach” I actually implied failing to properly use resources provided in safely doing a particular task, eg. personal protective equipment not used or tools not correctly used.
          The person may be exposed to hazards related to health or personal injury.

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