8 Things Your Boss Wishes You Knew About Safety Change

This article was originally published on June 12, 2015 by Safeopedia.com.   8-things-image

By Robert O’Neill, Practice Leader OHS Consulting – Work Safety Hub

Creating an appetite for safety change within an organisation is like gorilla warfare – long, arduous, drawn out, in hostile conditions, with no decisive victory! So here is a little adaption of Kotter’s Penguins to keep us from “Letting Up”..

Create a Sense of Urgency
Help others see the need for change and the importance of acting immediately. If asked today, what percentage of your work group, including managers would agree that there is a major problem or missed opportunity? Despite all your efforts is your work group mostly concerned with “today’s production” or is it brutally clear to enough people that you must change.

Pull Together Guiding Team
Make sure there is a powerful group guiding the change—one with leadership skills, credibility; communications ability; authority; analytical skills, and a sense of urgency. Does your guiding team work together well or do you need to go for a “game plan day”?

Develop the Change Vision and Strategy
Clarify how the future will be different from the past, and how you can make the future a reality. Is our change strategy a set of simple enough logical steps of how this future can be created, so that it has a chance to be understood and remembered by our work mates?

Communicate for Understanding and Buy In
Make sure as many others as possible understand and accept the vision and the strategy. Who are your evangelists? Do you have enough employees working on it? Where else can you put communications, so that the work groups cannot ignore them, even if they are annoyed?

Empower Others to Act
Remove as many barriers as possible so that those who want to make the vision a reality can do so.
Where are the leaders? Do we have enough capable leaders that volunteer? Who else would be thrilled by the challenge? Now that change becomes real and obstacles build up, is there something that sucks confidence and attention away from our vision and strategy?

Produce short term wins
Create some visible unambiguous successes as soon as possible. Have we planned for the leaders successes, some thing safe and not too demanding to win? Is there enough support for them to win? Have we communicated that everyone can help? Have we thought of publicly recognising the contributions of our change heroes – the leaders and the workers who stick their neck out?

Don’t Let Up. Don’t Let Up. Don’t Let Up
Press harder and faster after the first successes. Be relentless with initiating change after change until the vision is a reality. Have we raised the bar enough for our second wave leaders? Which meetings and other routines are irrelevant and can be eliminated to avoid exhausting ourselves along the way? What else can we do to keep up momentum?

Create a New Culture
Hold on to the new ways of behaving, and make sure they succeed, until they become strong enough to replace old traditions. What is the equivalent of teaching in your workplace? What else can we do to ensure that people act in the new way despite the pull of tradition? How do you pass on the story of change to the next generation?

Adapted from the brilliant words of John Kotter in his book “Our Iceberg Is Melting”

Robert O’Neill is a consultant, trainer and change agent at Work Safety Hub. Transforming cultures and saving lives.

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