BIC - October 2011
By: Shawn M. Galloway
Leadership is determined by what you do, not just by the passion that drives you or the results you achieve. World-class organizations are realizing the importance of moving the focus in operations away from results and towards performance. Outlined below are six practices to facilitate this journey.
Live Emerson's Quote - Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say." Behavioral integrity is a critical principle of great leaders. Successful executives reach an eventual point of realization: telling others to "support safety" pales in comparison to showing them what support looks like (and also what it doesn't). Can your employees provide any example where a leader was observed not following a policy or rule that is expected of employees? Hypocrisy is known to be demotivational to organizational culture. Ensure what you do reinforces the message sent to the organization.
Encourage Specific Safe Precautions - "Be safe today" stated 10 times a day will certainly add more value than reminding once a week, or once a month. But is "be safe" sufficient advice? What, specifically, does "be safe" really mean? For ownership and personal accountability of risk reduction to occur, there needs to be a focus on what specifically one can do to personally mitigate risk they are exposed to. Off-the-job topics are also necessary to further this level of personal ownership.
Always Be Positive About Safety With Employees - Occasionally new regulations or legislation will be passed that offer little value to the operations supervisor or manager. A salaried leader voicing this frustration in front of their direct reports is not tolerated in excellent cultures. A feeling of frustration is occasionally to be expected. Voicing this to leadership and the safety department is encouraged. However, exposing your employees to lack of support of a company direction will often result in further disconnect from organizational direction or objectives.
DOC vs. COP (Demonstrate Opportunities to Care, rather than Catch Opportunities to Punish) - Regretfully, some actions that are carried out with the purpose of improving safety performance leave employees with the sense of being policed in safety, rather than feeling cared for. There are two types of feedback that are often given. A COP might say, "I'm concerned you were driving 20 above the speed limit; let's talk." A DOC might say, "I'm concerned about your medical test results, and I'd like to speak with you." When giving feedback, it is important you do so in a manner that lets people know you truly care, rather than punishing them. Try to sound more like a DOC than a COP.
Eliminate Barriers to Safety - We must never forget that people are motivated to perform for a reason. If we do not address the reason, we will perpetuate a barrier to safe performance. Most people are motivated to work safely. Often the job of a leader is to identify and eliminate what is demotivating them, or getting in their way. These demotivators are either internal (complacency, knowledge, risk-identification, focus, etc.) or external (organizational, physical, design, etc.).
Remember the Dash - When you retire or leave your organization, few will remember in detail the date you started and the date you left. What they will remember is all that happened within the dash in-between the dates. Be proactive in your leadership legacy and remember: how you feel is important, but it's what you do that is critical.