We’ve worked with many organizations who initially implemented safety programs where they were focused on what they needed to do to pass an audit, live up to client expectations or meet regulatory requirements. As a result, employees also became focused on how they could comply with the requirements the easiest way possible so they could “get their work done”. A compliance-focus may achieve performance improvements in the short term but over time, execution usually suffers.
Here is an example of how the best intentions can lead to a dangerous result. As part of a safety week, our company did a ride-along with a service technician. When we arrived at a remote site, the service technician told us that the client required us to complete a job hazard analysis before we left the vehicle. We questioned how we could possibly do a hazard analysis without examining the work site, but those were the rules. The usual items were checked off on the form provided by the client – slips, trip falls, pinch points, etc. and we were asked to sign the form. We obliged, after indicating that we would do an inspection before any work commenced. During our inspection of the area we found hoses piled up, blocking emergency exit stairs, an open hatch in a dark corner where someone could easily fall into an operating agitator, electrical cords strung across a walking area that could catch you at head level…..and the list went on with over a dozen significant items to correct before the work could be done safely. Workers were complying with the rules but not committed to meaningful results.
A committed organization will achieve exceptional results and be creative in keeping themselves and others safe. In our example, the organization should have focused on meaningful outcomes, rather than a mechanical completion of a form.
Characteristics of a Committed Organization
- They train workers to understand why something needs to be done a certain way, and how it will benefit them and their co-workers.
- They involve workers to develop work practices and procedures that are easy to integrate into their work routine.
- Follow up to gather feedback and reinforce expectations, making sure they give and receive feedback respectfully.
- Make sure their requirements achieve meaningful results.
- Support workers to manage hazards.
Characteristics of Committed Employees:
- Ask questions respectfully, to understand why they need to do things in a specific way.
- Provide input into better ways to do things.
- Ask for feedback on their own performance to ensure they are getting the best results.
- Hold each other accountable to work safely.
- Take care of hazards and never leave them for someone else.
Commitment is achieved through strong partnerships between leaders and employees in a culture that supports open dialogue, where feedback is given and received respectfully. Passing audits and living up to internal and external expectations is easy for a committed organization that is focused on meaningful results.