Thought Leadership

The acid test for commitments to safety

May 21, 2014

Coaching isn't easyIn watching many Commitment Based Safety meetings and how employees are reporting in on their contributions to their commitments for the last 24 hours there is something noteworthy going on.

As we know, in a zero injury culture every employee manages his or her risks every day. Our method to do this is to ask them to choose those specific areas of risk that most impact their day and ability to be safe. And they are to think about these 2-4 risks they have chosen and perform them well throughout the day. There are three main portions of their report-ins:

  • Remind everyone what their commitments are
  • Share what actions they took against those commitments
  • Rate their overall performance (1-10 or % of time safe)

As I listen to employees, almost all are well beyond the “don’t remember my commitments point.” They all know the specific risks they want to manage to stay safe. And, they are better understanding the self-evaluation system and for the most part are doing a great job being humble when they didn’t have a good day and quite prideful when they had a fantastic safe day.

Yet, the stories or “contributions” they are sharing typically leave a lot of room to be more effective. Let me explain.

The “acid test” I use for a GREAT report in on what anyone has accomplished about their specific focused risks is WHEN THEY ARE TELLNG US HOW THEY DID, I TRY AND VISUALIZE WHETHER I CAN SEE THEM ACTUALLY DOING THOSE TASKS AS A REPLAY IN MY HEAD (Like I’m watching you in action). Many employees are only stating their commitments and I believe they are really intending to say that they were 100% safe on them but it’s really hard to tell. And in fact, those groups that have stated “reporting in on commitments is kind of boring” are almost always the groups that are talking mostly about what their commitments are and leaving off the stories of SPECIFICALLY WHAT THEY DID.

Frankly, it’s the stories of what each person did that are the interesting part – not a daily restatement of their focused risks.

Case in point: At one client that fills trailers at their warehouse the forklift drivers are suppose to complete four basic safety checks every time they are filling their trailers with customer shipment product. One person said that was one of their commitments and that was the whole report- in. Upon asking him, “So how many trailers did you fill yesterday?” he answered between 15 and 20. I asked him, are you telling us then that you literally got off your fork lift 15-20 times, you physically got off your fork lift to check each and every trailer you filled yesterday?”  He paused a minute, kind of counting in his head and said, “Most likely I did that 10 times.” He went on to say “I had a pretty safe day, but I could have done better I guess”.  

EXACTLY. Our goal is not to demean anyone or be upset if they weren’t 100%. But rather, appreciate what they did do and encourage them and support them to grow to become frequently at 100% safe on their commitments (or in this case 15 out of 15 trailers always doing their safety check)s.

It’s not the commitment we want to hear. It’s the story of how well each person has done so they can get the internal consequence (feeling good about their contribution) and the rest of us can provide an external consequence “Great job on that!”

Remember our aim. We work to focus and “produce” safety every day with a mindful way of being at work nailing 100% safe on our key risks every day – through personal action each and every day.

And the rest of us who are listening, especially the leads, don’t forget our role: reinforce, reinforce and reinforce. The more we support each other in this daily discipline of contributing to managing risk together, the more we stay on the top of our game in doing a great job. It’s kind of like football players or any players high fiving or acknowledging each other after great things happen. Listen for the contribution, coach each other into more details so we can see or visualize what they did. And all good reports deserve a small but effective positive response.


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