January 26 2020
By: Terry L. Mathis
Emerson said, "a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Yet, many organizational leaders yearn for sameness among employees and practices. Corporate safety departments tend to either command sameness or simply serve as a resource to divisions and sites who are allowed to do their own thing as long as they are in legal compliance.
In my experience, either of these extremes can compromise excellent safety performance. Some elements of safety initiatives lend themselves to uniformity and others need flex room. Not distinguishing which are which is either idealistic or lazy on the part of corporate safety leaders. The best safety performing organizations have leaders at the corporate level who are both directors and resources, and these leaders build frameworks for their sites with structure but also with room to customize programs and processes to fit individual workplace conditions and cultures. Complete sameness stifles creativity and opportunities to build ownership. One size does NOT fit all. But complete autonomy can lead to such diverse practices that it makes the organization unmanageable.
Terry Mathis, Founder and retired CEO of ProAct Safety, has served as a consultant and advisor for top organizations the world over. A respected strategist and thought leader, Terry has authored five books, numerous articles, videos and blogs, and is known for his dynamic and engaging presentations. EHS Today has named him one of the '50 People Who Most Influenced EHS' four consecutive times. Business leaders and safety professionals seek Terry's practical insight and unique ability to introduce new perspectives that lead to real change.