Drilling holes in your own boat

August 23 2021
By: Shawn M. Galloway

A customized safety culture process was implemented at a plant, part of a larger company, with a process named by employee volunteers. Let's call the process Shawn's Safety System. After the first few years of success, a sister facility an hour away wanted to hire me as well. First meetings were with the leadership teams, management and union, who never agreed on anything. The culture was toxic, rebuilding the relationship seemed an impossibility.

Management was excited about the potential to experience the same results and were eager to begin. Union was less excited with their largest concern, it can't look like, nor have the same name as what the other site is using. These two plants are essentially competitors within the same overall company. After hours of negotiating between plant and union leadership on the manner in which the approach would be implemented, we had approval from the union to move forward, with one primary condition, Under no circumstance could it be called the same name, so, Shawn's Safety System was out.

Drilling holes in your own boat A month later, returning to assess the culture to determine how best to move forward, sitting in a control room waiting on a focus group, the union vice president walks in and calls me some choice words and left. Confused, I stepped outside to call my point of contact to ascertain why, I see fliers near the employee entrance saying, "Welcome back Shawn Galloway of ProAct Safety, to help us implement Shawn's Safety System!"

I walked away from that project. Management couldn't get out of their own way. Sadly, less than a year later, the company closed that facility because, "the culture was too far gone to fix."

"When personal agendas become more important than the team and the overarching mission's success, performance suffers, and failure ensues" -Jocko Willink







Shawn M. Galloway

Shawn M. Galloway is CEO of the global consultancy ProAct Safety. He is a trusted advisor, professional keynote speaker and author of several bestselling books on safety strategy, culture, leadership and behavior-based safety. He is a monthly columnist for several magazines and one of the most prolific contributors in the industry, having also authored over 650 podcasts, 200 articles and 100 videos. Shawn has received awards and recognition for his significant contributions from the American Society of Safety Professionals, National Safety Council's Top 40 Rising Stars and Top Ten Speakers, EHS Today Magazine's 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS, ISHN Magazine's POWER 101 - Leaders of the EHS World and their newest list: 50 Leaders for Today and Tomorrow and Pro-Sapien's list of The Top 11 Health and Safety Influencers.