Safety Coaching the Tough Situations

We’ve looked at how to use the G.R.O.W. model for safety coaching performance and behaviors.  But sometimes the situation you are coaching is dire and calls for a more forceful approach.  In those cases, we’ll still use the G.R.O.W. model, but we’ll modify it to fit the occasion.  As with any coaching session, we’ll still want to start with the Goal.  Something like:  “John, as you know, our goal is to create a culture of safety at our location.” [content_protector password=”coach-06″ identifier=”coach-06″]

Then move to the Reality by describing the behavior:  “John, I watched as you …” or “I noticed that you …”  Here you’ll want to state the behavior you observed.  Then, as part of the Reality step, you’ll want to point out the impact that behavior has on the team, on the culture, on the work environment, or any other impact it might have.  For instance,

“John the rest of the crew here looks to you for leadership.  When they see you engage in that type of at-risk behavior, it sends a message to them that safety isn’t all that important to us and it’s okay to put themselves at risk.”

The next thing you’ll want to do is get the reality perspective of the person whose behavior is in question:  “John, help me to understand why you think this has become an issue.”

So far we’ve stayed in the Goal and the Reality stages of coaching.  Now it’s time to move to the Option stage:  “John, what do you suggest we do to change this behavior and ensure it doesn’t happen again?”  We’re accomplishing two things with this statement.  First, we’re transferring ownership for improvements to the person you’re coaching.  Second, we’re suggesting by the strength and resolve of the statement that not changing is not an option.

Now, once we have a suggestion or two from John, and we’ve added our own ideas to the mix, it’s time to move to the next step in the G.R.O.W. process, which is the Way Forward.  Specify a plan:  “John, going forward what I would like you to do is …” Or “What I would like to see from you is …” Or “John, my expectation is that from now on you will …”  Here you simply reiterate the suggestions for improvement that John himself thought of, as well as any suggestions of your own.

So far we’ve stayed pretty much in line with the G.R.O.W. coaching model that we covered in a previous series.  But now we’re going to add something new to the mix to accommodate the severity of the behavior.  As part of the Way Forward, we want to communicate clear, unambiguous consequences if the behavior continues:

“John, I want to be clear that if I see this behavior again, or if I see no improvement by our next meeting, the consequences will be . . .”

Here you’ll want to state the clear consequences and the timelines for improvements.  Be sure to clarify with your HR generalist just how those consequences can be stated.

Then be sure to check-in with John on how all this is landing with him:  “John, What questions do you have about this? ”  Get his perspective, and his commitment to make improvements.  Using this method for coaching the difficult situations will give you the best chance for success that you won’t see this behavior again.

Well, that’s all the time we have for this edition of Recordable INSIGHTS. Until next time, 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.