One of the safety pros I have had the pleasure to work with describes the front line work environment as the “Jelly Layer.” Sure, companies have absolutes when it comes to values and principles such as ethics, safety, quality, cost, schedule, etc. However, when you are facing the reality of the many multiple inter relations at the front line, life is not all that crisp or firm. You are in the Jelly Layer and all the regulations, policies, procedures, principles, etc., seem often to deliver some level of conflict and the reality of compromise begins to creep in.
Many of us have been a part of the Jelly Layer more than once in our careers. Add to the uncertainties and conflicting priorities the dynamic of demanding and/or authoritarian leadership and our Jelly Layer gets even more complex and dangerous to our employees, ourselves and our careers. We all get to juggle more than one ball at a time in our life spans. On occasion we all have more balls in the air than we can successfully handle and inevitable drops begin to occur. We then make a personal risk assessment that guides us to the unpleasant decision of which failure (compromise) to live with.
A strong team with multiple talents to assist us definitely leads to fewer drops. But in the endgame at the Jelly Layer of front line realities personal values dictate our drop decisions. To successfully play this Jelly Layer endgame you must have carefully thought out your personal values and be prepared to live them at a moment’s notice. There is no time for navel gazing at the Jelly Layer.
Is it time for some personal reflection and commitment on your own values?