The Role of “Short-Term Wins” When Leading Safety-Culture Change

The Role of “Short-Term Wins” When Leading Safety-Culture ChangeFootball season is fast approaching, and for many NFL teams that means another shot at the Super Bowl—other teams, not so much. All team owners, general managers and head coaches have a vision and direction for their team, but not all those visions will produce results. In fact, some of those visions will end up leading their team to the bottom tier.

Imagine for a moment that your team is in that latter category. They follow the leadership’s vision and direction throughout the season while winning no games, yet continue to pursue that vision and promise fans a spot in the playoffs. How many lost games will it take before you and the rest of the fans stop believing in the vision? 10 Things Leaders Absolutely Must DO to DRIVE Sustainable Safety Culture Change

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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.

 

 

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.

Comments

  1. Thanks Erik, this was a very good read. I have been with a newer employer for less that 6 mo. I wouldn’t even be here if they didn’t have two very serious injuries last Nov.2014 two weeks apart, resulting in hospitalization. My struggle here is coming from the top. (VP) I have been successful with 80% of the company. The ones with mud on there boots. They get me and my vision of safety. The push back at the top keeps me up dating my resume on Monster, if you know what I mean. But I hate to give up after so many of my little successes. Defeat doesn’t set well with this old Marine! I fall back and regroup and try another attack on unsafe acts and stupid. Your article has given me some additional ammo ! I have been asked to make a presentation at the corporate yearly Foreman’s meeting . At first I decided not to do it and be “window dressing for the VP”. But I am thinking if I could use some of your points in this article, it may be of some help, getting me to the goal line! Coming from NY and being a tattooed forever Vikings fan you may understand me better. I would be open to any additional advice you may have in getting managements buy in. Please connect with me on Linked In.
    Regards
    Peter F. Jensen Sr. CHSS, ASC, REPA, CIPS.
    Safety Pete – Construction Safety Specialist
    Behavior Ignored is Behavior Accepted
    Behavior Rewarded is Behavior Repeated

    • Peter — please feel free to use any of my materials that you think might help. This series spans back a ways, so you may want to start with the first article in the series and read it forward. A lot of your concerns and questions are answered in some of the previous articles.

      As for additional suggestions, I’ll make one that appears missing from your efforts: Leadership (your VP) has to drive this. You didn’t specify, but I assume this VP is over operations and not just the EHS function. If he is the top dog, then the safety vision must be communicated by him directly to the front lines. The front lines will do and adopt what they think their big boss expects them to do and adopt. I can’t stress this point enough.

      Your role is “advisor” to leadership. You must coach him on how he is communicating the vision for the culture, how he is modeling that culture, and how he should be measuring the culture.
      So you’ll need to sit down with him and lay out the strategy of how a culture change works. He cannot take a passive supportive role in this — he must actively and visibly communicate it and drive it. Part of that is to ensure that his staff managers are on board and communicating and modeling the same vision. If you can get your VP fully on board, everyone else will begin to align themselves and their priorities with the safety-culture vision, and the rest will be cake.

      Hope this helps,

      ES

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