Paving the Way Forward: Safety Leadership Coaching – Step 4

You’ve identify the goal, you’ve evaluated the reality, and you’ve even generated options for improvements.  And, if you did this right, you’ve pared down the list to a few actionable items and transferred ownership for improvements to the person you’re coaching.  So now you’re ready for the final step in the coaching process; to pave the Way Forward. [content_protector password=”coach-04″ identifier=”coach-04″]

The final step in safety leadership coaching is simply the natural outworking of the three previous steps, and so it should be the easiest to do.  The problem is, if you don’t state this the right way, or if you leave it open-ended, it will render the rest of your coaching session ineffective and you may not see any improvements at all.  So let’s take a look at how this step should be done.

The Way Forward needs to be clear, it needs to be specific, and it needs to be stated in a way that both sets expectations and gets a commitment from the person you’re coaching.  So you’ll want to avoid statements that seem ambiguous or open-ended, or that seem to be mere suggestions void of expectations.  For instance, say I make a statement like, “Well, Tom, we’ve talked about a lot of ways to improve.  Do you think you can do some of these things?”  Or, “Tom, why don’t you see if you can try some of these things in your next safety meeting?”

Statement like these are too anemic and too open-ended to be acted upon.  And in all likelihood, Tom will simply dismiss them and revert back to what he was doing before. Instead, try stating it more forcefully.  “Tom, it looks like we’ve narrowed your list of improvements down to some workable options. Let me see if I can summarize them.  As I understand it, starting with your next safety meeting, you’re going to . . . ” Here is where you fill in the blanks with your pared-down list of options for improvements that you generated in Step 3.  Then follow that up with,  “Did I get that right, Tom? Have I missed anything?” FCTC Online

The goal with this step is to get a hard commitment from the person you’re coaching that he will implement these ideas to make improvements in his safety engagements going forward.  Stating it in this way communicates a clear expectation that improvements will happen, and that it’s not an option to continue doing things the old way.  Remember, if you did a good job with Step 3 then the person you’re coaching is the one who came up with these suggestions in the first place.  All you’re doing is holding him accountable for acting on them.

Well, that wraps up this edition of Recordable INSIGHTS.  Join us next time when we’ll look at some important final thoughts about coaching safety leadership.  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.