Transferring Ownership for Improvements: Safety Leadership Coaching – Step 3

We’ve been looking at how to coach improvements in a safety leadership culture, and so far we’ve covered the first two steps of the G.R.O.W. coaching process; namely, identify the goal and evaluate the reality.  The next step in the process is to generate options for improvements.  To do that, you’ll need to ask questions that not only probe potential options for improvements, but effectively transfer ownership for those improvements to the person you’re coaching. [content_protector password=”coach-03″ identifier=”coach-03″]

You’ll recall in our hypothetical coaching session that we asked our coachee how he thinks he performed on a scale of 1-10.  To transition to the next step of the G.R.O.W. process we might ask something like . . .

Tom, what do you think prevented it from being a 10 this time? What do you think needs to happen to raise it to a 10 next time?

Now, it’s crucial to the successful transfer of ownership here that you not preempt Tom’s own thought process by suggesting improvements for him. Remember this maxim:

No one disagrees with his own ideas

If the improvement is your idea, Tom may or may not act on it.  But if it’s Tom’s idea, well, that’s a different story.  Tom will likely at least attempt an improvement if he’s the one that came up with it. FCTC Online

Now, once Tom comes up with an idea for an improvement, don’t stop there. Say something like, “Great idea, Tom. I’ll write that down. What else?”  Your goal here is to get Tom to suggest a number of options for improvements that can eventually be pared down to a few actionable items.  So continue asking “What else?” until Tom has exhausted his options.

If there are still some things you think Tom may have missed, then you can follow up by saying something like, “Let me suggest one or two things that I think might help here.”  Be sure to pare down your final list to two or three actionable items.  Asking someone to make more than two or three improvements at one time will overwhelm them and cause the process to fail.  So, focus only on the most important improvements for now.  There will be plenty of opportunity to work on the other improvements later on down the road.

That wraps up this edition of Recordable INSIGHTS.  Join us next time when we’ll look at the final step of the G.R.O.W. process. Until then, be sure all your safety initiatives are built-in, not bolted on.



About the Author

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.