Monday, April 15, 2013

Togetherness – Safety transitions that occur with mergers and acquisitions

Leadership changes affect performance in production, quality and safety. There is a true level of uncertainty with both the mergers and the mergees. Sure ‘Due Diligence’ takes place, but typically only to a minimum level when it comes to safety. Often the safety pro gets an email or phone call that succinctly states whether you are a new merger or mergee; and then the real work begins.

When put in the mode of being responsible for bringing a new company on board, there are some consistent approaches I have found to be helpful.

  • We pull together a fairly complete package of what our organization expects. There are policies and procedures (PNPs), near-miss system particulars, downstream safety statistics, best practical safety practices from other sites, safety accountabilities for typical positions in an organization, continuous improvement culture process and expectations, Safety Perception Survey results, regional safety contacts and the like. I guess you could call this a sort of kind of ‘Death by Power Point’ compilation which represents who our company is with respect to safety.

  • Next it is time to contact the newly acquired site leadership and schedule an onsite review of all its safety system/program realities. We are purposely precise with the timing of this event and purposely vague with respect to our request for information. We want to quickly see who they are and what they have with respect to safety culture and onsite realities.

  • Once on site we have a full day of shared dog and pony time.  We are interested in what kind of leadership shows up at all levels of the organization, from hourly through site management. They get the first turn in the barrel followed by our Death by Power Point depth. Very quickly mutual evaluations take place complete with expectations and targets. There is also in-depth time as to how the mergee organization can become a viable part of the owning company and our safety culture realities.

  • The next days are dedicated to an onsite level-one type review of how the organization stacks up to regulation requirements and front line physical conditions. During this workface phase we also schedule formal and extemporaneous interviews with hourly, supervision and salaried workforce personnel. This face time gives us a checkup on the safety culture reality as it is practiced by those who live the organization’s safety culture truth.

  • The last onsite day includes a debrief, which once again is shared information and technology time. Our objective is safety excellence and how to get there, not punishment or degradation. We do go over the good, the bad and the ugly as well as reinforcing our principals, values, expectations and support realities. We will have regional safety professionals in attendance for the whole event which allows us to begin a more formal practice of on boarding the new organization so it can become a successful member of our safety culture excellence family.  

  • All this leads to an action item matrix of what needs to be done, by whom and when. Included in this is our Safety Perception Survey diagnostic which furthers the process of safety culture reality and what to do to improve this important part of all of our family of sites’ safety cultures
The Doc

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