Five Points of Reflection When Leading Safety-Culture Change

Four Points of Reflection When Leading Safety Culture ChangeKeeping your eye on target when leading a safety culture change is critical to its success.  We have to measure our progress, our successes, and even our own fidelity to the process often as we move through each stage of the change.  Evaluation and adjustment, re-evaluation and re-adjustment, then still more  re-evaluation and re-adjustment is the name of the game. [content_protector password=”5points” identifier=”5points”]

We’ve been looking at principles for leading safety-culture change in the organization, and we’ve already touched on a number of points that are important to the process.  Things like leadership, the cycle of change, and general axioms around safety-culture change.

But it’s just as important to reflect along the way on just how the change is going and how we’re leading it.  Here are five points on which to reflect during the change process that will go a long way toward keeping us on track.


We’ve already noted when looking at the cycle of change that it’s not a matter of whether you will see resistance, but what level of resistance it will be. The reflection question for this point is, How are we managing this?

Resistance must be anticipated, and ways to mitigate that resistance must be planned in advance.  Nothing derails a safety-culture change effort faster than a lack of planned mitigation controls to minimize resistance.  Ensuring you are addressing the next four points will help you do just that.

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We’ve looked at the importance of getting leadership on board in a past article, so we need to ask ourselves the reflection question, Have we gained visible support at the top levels for this change?

Remember, this cannot be mere conceptual or administrative support, but must be an active and visible participation by leadership in the culture-change process.  That means they must communicate the vision early and often, and they must do so in the language of the new culture.  More on this in a future article.


In another past article we noted the importance of recruiting and enlisting champions to help us lead the safety-culture change.  The reflection question for this point is, Can we involve resources in other departments to secure expertise, recruit champions and distribute ownership?

Collaboration is key to a successful change because it entails transferring ownership for the change to those who will be impacted by the change.  The more ownership you can offload to other departments or functional units, the better.  Find champions everywhere you can.


We can’t expect people to readily hop aboard a safety-culture change initiative if we’re not doing our part to on-board them.  So, the reflection question we must ask ourselves is, Are we building capability into our employees so that they are well equipped for the change?

This includes (but is not limited to) training.  Training is a good starting point for development, but it is not development in itself.  We must train them on their roles and responsibilities in the new culture, but must also develop their skills to lead a safety culture in their own right.

Red Tape

fctc-online-bannerFinally, it’s important that we do not over-complicate the change process.  We must continually reflect on the question, Are we successfully avoiding “bloat” (or unnecessary complications) to the change process? 

Trim it, pare it down and streamline it as you move through each stage.  For instance, if the process entails heavy coaching at the start (as it should), be sure (once they get good at what you are asking them to do) that you are backing off commensurate to their abilities.  Limit your involvement after that point to periodic spot coaching.

That’s it for this edition of Recordable INSIGHTS.  Until next time.



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.