It’s In Place, But Is It Sustainable?

It’s In Place, But Is It Sustainable?You’ve rolled out your latest and greatest safety program to strengthen your safety culture, you’ve done all the attendant training, and you’ve laid out the new policies – now what? It doesn’t matter what kind of program change you make to a safety culture it you don’t ensure it’s going to survive the change process and endure till the end. Yours wouldn’t be the first safety program to earn the stigma of the latest “flavor of the month” for facility employees. Here are a few guidelines for ensuring the effort is sustainable.

Communicate the new program early and often 10-things-safety-culture-change-plan

Well before you plan for the new program to be underway, start communicating its future implementation using company-wide or facility-wide communication vehicles (mass e-mail, newsletter, bulletin boards, plant-wide meetings, etc.). Employees need some time to get used to the idea that change is coming. This will also go a long way toward ensuring they reach the “acceptance” stage of change before they see the program go live. Communicate it at least weekly to ensure that happens.

Market the program’s benefits to them

All employees are tuned into the same radio station: WIIFM (“What’s In It For Me?”). They will view the program as organization-centered by default – something that might benefit the plant, but not the individual. Unless they understand how this new program benefits them personally, it’ll be difficult to get them on board with the idea. The challenge here is to find and make as many personal applications as possible so they begin to see and accept the rationale behind the change.

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It’s not enough to train them on what the program is. They also need to be developed on how to operate under the new program. That includes skills development so that they are better equipped to meet the expected behavioral and performance levels around the program. They need practice time and role-playing scenarios to become comfortable with their new roles and responsibilities under the new program. And the more practice opportunity you give them, the better!

Never underestimate the power of ownership

FCTC OnlineI often use an axiom to illustrate why ownership is so important. It goes like this: “No one disagrees with his/her own ideas.” People tend to hold other people’s ideas at a distance but tend to embrace their own. The more you can recruit a coalition of “thought champions” in your selection and implementation of the new program, the better. That requires some forethought. It’s fine to do the preliminary ditch work on your own, but be sure to have a cross-departmental team (who would be impacted by this program) on hand to help finalize – and validate! – that decision. They will then operate as natural champions of the change later in the process.

There are more ideas we could add here, but these are four of the big ones to ensure your effort is sustainable. That’s it for this edition of Recordable INSIGHTS. Until next time.

~ES

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.

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