Is Your Safety Coaching Interfering with Safety Performance?

Is Your Safety Coaching Interfering with Greater Safety Performance?Last article we looked at a general principle for transferring ownership of a safety culture to the front-lines.  One application of this principle is in our safety-performance coaching.  You may recall that we started down the path of how to improve our safety coaching and behaviors, and we’ll continuing that series in this article by addressing a coaching concept called “interference.” [content_protector password=”interference” identifier=”interference”]

“Interference” in coaching may be defined as anything that hinders the ability of a person to make suggested performance improvements.  There are a number of things that might contribute to this, and they may be divided into two separate categories:  Interference that comes from the coach, and interference that comes from the performer.

Interference from the Coaching Side

One of the first things to be aware of when coaching is the importance of ownership.  Remember the maxim from our last issue: “No one disagrees with his own ideas.”  If I’m telling the person I’m coaching what I think his performance level is and what I think the improvements need to be, instead of asking him what he thinks about those things, then I’m missing an opportunity to transfer ownership of improvements to him.

So, the first source of interference on the coaching side is “telling instead of asking.”  If I’m focused on “telling,” my coaching subject may very well agree with my ideas for improvements, and he may have no problem implementing those improvements, but he’ll never embrace them as his own because they were my ideas instead of his.

The goal of a coach is to take a step back and patiently coax those ideas out of the person who’s being coached. That means I have to engage that person in a conversation and ask him some questions.  Questions like:

“How well do you think you’ve been doing to meet our safety culture goals?”

“What are some areas that you think need to be improved?”

“What do you think has to happen to make those improvements?”

If I can draw the ideas for improvement from his own thinking process, they become his ideas instead of mine.  That’s much more valuable for purposes of internalizing, owning and leading of a safety culture than any suggestions for improvement I might have to offer.

That’s it for this edition of Recordable INSIGHTS. Be sure to view the associated video below to learn more about this principle. Until next time.

~ES [/content_protector]

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.