Posted on Leave a comment

How time flies in your safety program at work; is it Reactive or Proactive

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot”

When business looks at progress they see your at boys and equally your what the heck were you thinking moments as progress or what we in safety refer to as Lead and Lag events in your program. It all comes down to running activity logs or tracking what a company does instead of a person. A commitment to safety should not be a priority, but a value that shapes decision making all the time, at every level.

In Business and People activities you may also see that you are energetic in some parts of the day, and flat in other parts. Lead and Lag measurement in your program are identical to this and so are the measurements in progress.

Every company desires safe operations, but the challenge is to translate this desire into action. Written rules, standards and procedures while important and necessary, are not enough. Companies must develop a culture in which the value of safety is embedded in every level of the workforce. We define culture as the unwritten standards and norms that shape mind-sets, attitudes and behaviours. A culture of safety starts with leadership, because leadership drives culture and culture drives behaviour. Leaders influence culture by setting expectations, building structure, teaching others and demonstrating stewardship. A commitment to safety and operational integrity begins with management. But management alone cannot drive the entire culture. For a culture of safety to flourish, it must be embedded throughout the organisation.

A lot of this can depend on how you or the safety culture via your staff are running and doing. Once you’ve analyzed your Activity Log, you should be able to boost your productivity by applying one of the following actions to various activities:

1.   Eliminate or delegate  jobs that aren’t part of your role, or that don’t help you meet your objectives. These may include tasks that someone else in the organization should be doing (possibly at a lower pay rate) or personal activities such as sending non-work e-mails or surfing the Internet.

2.   Schedule your most challenging tasks for the times of day when your energy levels are highest. That way, your work will be of better quality, and it should take you less time to do.

3.   Minimize the number of times you switch between types of task. For example, could you check and reply to e-mails at only a few times of the day, or process all of your invoices at the same time each week?

4.   Reduce the amount of time you spend on legitimate personal activities such as making drinks. (Take turns in your team to do this – it saves time and strengthens team spirit!)  In the big picture you are doing the exact same thing in your safety program but on a larger scale via your lead and lag principles.

When peaks of demand in one area match troughs in another, life can be good. However, when demands are in synch we can experience dissatisfaction, stress, anxiety, depression and a whole host of other ills. A major incident is generally the result of a number of factors interacting in unanticipated ways. Many of these factors will be psychological or behavioural, and are in turn influenced by the prevailing Safety Culture. A strong Safety Culture is not in itself an absolute guarantee against incidents, but it is a barrier against the complacency, omissions and violations which are so commonly listed in incident reports as causal factors. A Management System that is not backed-up by a positive Safety Culture might not give the desired outcomes.

“Lagging” Metrics – a retrospective set of metrics that are based on incidents that meet the threshold of severity that should be reported as part of the industry-wide process safety metric.

“Leading” Metrics – a forward looking set of metrics which indicate the performance of the key work processes, operating discipline, or layers of protection that prevent incidents

“Near Miss” and other internal Lagging Metrics – the description of less severe incidents (i.e., below the threshold for inclusion in the industry lagging metric), or unsafe conditions which activated one or more layers of protection. Although these events are actual events (i.e., a “lagging” metric), they are generally considered to be a good indicator of conditions which could ultimately lead to a more severe incident.

Measurement is an important part of any management process and forms the basis for continuous improvement. Measuring safety performance is no different and effectively doing so will compound the success of your improvement efforts.

Finding the perfect measure of safety is a difficult task. What you want is to measure both the bottom-line results of safety as well as how well your facility is doing at preventing accidents and incidents. Building a Safety Culture is a complex process, which is influenced by a number of factors, for example: • leadership commitment to safety; • employee involvement and motivation; • employee values, beliefs, assumptions (affected by the national or geographical culture of the workforce); • employee perceptions of safety at their workplace (safety climate); • myths and stories; • policies and procedures; • supervisor priorities; • responsibilities and accountability; • production and bottom line pressures versus quality issues; and • actions, or lack of action, to correct unsafe behaviours and unsafe conditions. In a strong positive Safety Culture everyone feels responsible for safety and pursues it on a daily basis; employees go beyond “the call of duty” to identify unsafe conditions and behaviours, and are comfortable intervening to correct them.

Leading indicators are focused on future safety performance and continuous improvement. These measures are proactive in nature and report what employees are doing on a regular basis to prevent injuries.

Best practices for using leading indicators

Companies dedicated to safety excellence are shifting their focus to using leading indicators to drive continuous improvement. Lagging indicators measure failure; leading indicators measure performance, and that’s what we’re after!

Safety Life Culture Stages:

When Super developed his model, people’s lives tended to move through five clearly defined “Life Stages”, which were a major feature of the model. Today, people’s careers tend to follow a less predictable pattern, so if you want to use the Life Stage idea (which may or may not be appropriate) we recommend you adjust them to fit the pattern of your own life.

Safety Program Super’s stages were:

1. Growth (This Life Stages focuses on physical growth, and is a time when people begin to form ideas about their self-worth.

2. Exploration This stage is when people start learning about the different types of work available and what is required to be successful in different careers. During exploration, the more you learn, the more committed you become to a few of the choices and you start to narrow the field to those types of jobs you would like to pursue.

3. Establishment starts as people settle into their chosen career, and become productive members of  safety society. This stage is marked by increased responsibility and personal satisfaction from work and career.

4. Maintenance this is were you are maintaining their current safety programs and participating in safety audits activities that will keep them up to date in their present job.

5. Disengagement This is the stage when someone has chosen to slow down and eventually retire from their safety beliefs or values.

There’s a subtle relationship between pressure and performance. When your people experience the right amount of pressure, they do their best work. However, if there’s too much or too little pressure, then performance can suffer.

Is the hole you see in your safety program impacted by the Inverted U PROCESS?

The Inverted-U curve in reality, the shape of the curve will depend on the situation, and the individual person.

There are four main “influencers” that can affect this. These are:

1.   Skill Level.

2.   Personality.

3.   Trait Anxiety.

4.   Task Complexity.

Most importantly, start by thinking about people’s workloads, and about the pressure that they’re already experiencing. If people are overloaded, see if you can take pressure off them – this will help them increase the quality of their work. By contrast, if they’re underworked (it can happen!), you may need to keep them sharp by shortening deadlines or finding extra things for them to do.

When you’re thinking about how to develop your team’s skills, you need answers to the following questions:

·        Who needs training?

·        What training do they need?

·        Why is it important?

·        How will you deliver the training?

Training Needs Assessment is a structured way of answering these questions.

By comparing existing skills and competencies with the skills you want people to have, you can make an informed decision about the type of training each person or team needs. You can then develop or source a training program that addresses these needs.

Types of Motivation

There are two main types of motivation – extrinsic and intrinsic.

Extrinsic motivation is when you use external factors to encourage your team to do what you want. Pay raises, time off, bonus checks, and the threat of job loss are all extrinsic motivators – some positive, some less so.

Intrinsic motivation is internal. It’s about having a personal desire to overcome a challenge, to produce high-quality work, or to interact with team members you like and trust. Intrinsically motivated people get a great deal of satisfaction and enjoyment from what they do.

Every team member is different, and will likely have different motivators. So, it’s important to get to know your people, discover what motivates them, and find a good mixture of extrinsic and intrinsic motivators, so that you can motivate them successfully.

The Four Dimensions of Relational Safety Work are:

1.   Influence.

2.   Interpersonal facilitation.

3.   Relational creativity.

4.   Team leadership.

Many of us are strong in at least one of these areas – but we may be strong in several areas, or in none of them.

It’s not relevant which area is stronger. What is relevant is that if we, or our team members, have a strength in one area, we should try to match their work to that strength.

Unfortunately, this is common. And it can lead to serious problems for managers, as they struggle to motivate frustrated, indifferent, uncooperative, and unproductive team members. Close supervision, motivational speeches, reward programs, progressive discipline, and department transfers – these are all part of the manager’s toolbox. However, these strategies are often not effective.

Dr David Sirota,

Three-Factor Theory of Human Motivation in the Workplace is based on three fundamental principles:

1.   The organization’s goals are not in conflict with the workers’ goals.

2.   Workers have basic needs that organizations should try to meet.

3.   Staff enthusiasm is a source of competitive advantage.

McClelland’s theory, which states that we all have one dominant motivator that moves us forward, and this motivator is based on our culture and life experiences. Achievers like to solve problems and achieve goals. Those with a strong need for affiliation don’t like to stand out or take risk, and they value relationships above anything else. Those with a strong power motivator like to control others and be in charge.

Dominant Motivator

Characteristics of This Person


·        Has a strong need to set and accomplish challenging goals.

·        Takes calculated risks to accomplish their goals.

·        Likes to receive regular feedback on their progress and achievements.

·        Often likes to work alone.


·        Wants to belong to the group.

·        Wants to be liked, and will often go along with whatever the rest of the group wants to do.

·        Favors collaboration over competition.

·        Doesn’t like high risk or uncertainty.


·        Wants to control and influence others.

·        Likes to win arguments.

·        Enjoys competition and winning.

·        Enjoys status and recognition.


Those with a strong power motivator are often divided into two groups: personal and institutional. People with a personal power drive want to control others, while people with an institutional power drive like to organize the efforts of a team to further the company’s goals. As you can probably imagine, those with an institutional power need are usually more desirable as team members!

Amabile and Kramer identified six things that you can do to give people the best chance of experiencing and recognizing meaningful progress.

These are:

1. Set Clear Goals and Objectives

When people have unclear or changing goals, they don’t know what to focus on. This means that they’re likely to be less engaged with the work they’re doing, and they’re unlikely to see the small tasks that they do as “wins.”

So, make sure that you set SMART  (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals for everyone on your team; and change them only when you have to. Your people need to understand what’s expected of them, so that they know when they’ve achieved these goals.

2. Allow Autonomy

Although your people need specific goals, they need some freedom to decide how they accomplish these goals – the more control that people have over their own work, the more empowered and creative they’ll be, and the more they’ll recognize their own achievements (even on small tasks).

3. Provide Resources

Without sufficient resources in place, it will be difficult for your people to succeed consistently in their work. They may conclude that their work isn’t important, and they may waste time on non-core tasks that don’t help them reach their objectives.

4. Allow Ample Time

Your people need enough time to complete their work: consistently setting short deadlines will harm creativity, drive down work quality, and cause burnout.

That being said, there is an optimum amount of pressure that can actually enhance performance. Therefore, you need to provide the right amount of pressure – try to set deadlines that create enough pressure to motivate good performance, yet still allow people the freedom to be creative and innovative.

5. Provide Support and Expertise

Make sure that your team has access to the help and expertise of other people, so that they can move forward with their work.

As their manager, this includes you, but it also includes other managers, colleagues, outside experts, or even customers and suppliers.

6. Learn from “Failure”

No matter how well you plan and prepare, there will be times when people fail at tasks or projects. This will sometimes be because their work was careless, however, other times, people may have done their genuine best, but failed for reasons outside their control.

Clearly, sloppy work needs to be dealt with appropriately.

However, some organizations deal harshly with honest failure. This not only lowers morale and makes people afraid to try new things, but it also encourages them to see failures as wasted time, rather than as experiences that they can learn from.

Encourage people to keep track of their achievements and successes on a daily basis, for example, by keeping a diary of their achievements.

They determined that achieving consistent, small wins was the biggest indicator of a rich inner work life. This rich inner work life, in turn, enables people to be more productive, more engaged, and more creative in the work that they do.

As well as using these mechanisms, you should also encourage your people to recognize and celebrate their own successes, however small in Health and Safety. As a manager or supervisor, your aim is to get the best performance from the people who work from you. If you have high expectations of a member of your team, this can reinforce your efforts. On the other hand, if you convey lower expectations of an individual, this can undermine your efforts to improve his or her performance.

Without knowing it, you may show low expectations by delegating less challenging and interesting work. You may pay less attention to team members’ performance and give them less support and praise. In return, the team member may feel undervalued and untrusted, and his or her confidence may be undermined. And so your lower expectations, albeit unconsciously communicated, can demotivate the team member, creating the exact opposite effect of the performance improvement that you want.

More than this, the effect of low expectations can create a vicious circle – you expect less, you get less, you lower your expectations and further demotivate, and so on.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.