Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Professor – Effective teaching

One of the many important roles of the safety pro is teaching.  Not surprisingly, this is also an important role for a parent raising their children to be the best they can be.  On- or off-the-job teaching is not an easy duty for those of us who were not professionally trained as teachers.  However, there is a real need to effectively take on the job and family member associates from initial exposure, to knowledge, all the way through to skillful, consistent practice.  This is an important skill for all of us to master, or at least perform well.  At the front line of an organization or family, how we lead in educating our students and follow up on their development is a critical success factor in what we do and consequently in how they perform safely and correctly.  In this teaching role, each of us develops and delivers a personal style that usually needs some tune up work to be truly effective.

There is an “old saw” that goes something like: A lecture is the fastest means known for getting notes from the teacher into the notes of the students without passing through the minds of either.  To confront this unfortunate paradigm, we must take responsibility for training our front line personnel and front line leadership and family.   That training needs to impart to them the importance of being personally committed to an incident free lifestyle and to living a personal culture of correct in all they do.  In order to go beyond ineffective lecturing, there are some basic proven principles which we need to apply and demonstrate:

·         Prepare the student to receive the teaching; the what, the who, the how, the when, the why

·         Present the job (material) to be done (learned) and practiced

·         Actively involve the person to be trained in what they are expected to learn and what they are needing to develop into a personal skill

·         Follow up after the teaching to ensure they have transformed the knowledge trained into their living the important skill that they personally practice

This probably sounds like a lot of work which likely wasn’t a part of what you originally considered to be your duties as the professor / trainer.  However the “A” through “F” grade your students exhibit on the job, and in life, is also a reflection of how well you trained them to master the important aspects of what they need to perform after your training takes place.

The Doc   

Monday, May 18, 2015

Ripples – Making a lasting difference

I recently viewed a YouTube video on the consequences of how our small, personal acts of kindness can have far reaching effects on others with whom we have interacted. This message was presented as a metaphor about a person dropping a pebble into a pond and then watching the ceaseless ripples go out with unknown impact into the unknown surroundings.

This brought to mind a number of people who have dropped pebbles into my pond and how I was affected way beyond what was originally intended by the person dropping the pebble.   Early on was a boss I worked for while attending graduate school.  I was at a decision point to scrap a long planned graduation vacation with my wife or go directly into the workforce and make money.  I calculated all the financial ramifications and going to work looked very beneficial.  John, my boss at the time, then talked to me about a metaphorical high paying career of endlessly cracking eggs while sitting in a corner.  He contrasted this high paying, mind numbing job with seeking out what would deliver a lesser paying career in a field which would bring personal satisfaction and not just more money.  The vacation my wife and I took brought a personal experience and bonding that the extra money could never have delivered.  The lesson in the trade off of more money verses a more satisfying personal  life experience for the two of us and for our children has replayed (rippled) itself numerous times over the years.

Years later Dr. Dan Petersen dropped his pebbles in my pond about the importance of culture and accountabilities in developing excellent safety performance for an organization.  About the same time, other people in my life dropped pebbles in my pond related to creative problem solving, Continuous Improvement team excellence and action item matrices. These ripples combined resulted in the development of a safety culture excellence process that Caterpillar Inc. now uses worldwide which has helped to eliminate tens of thousands of injuries.

As a result of these people going out of their way to cause caring ripples in my life, I have had numerous chances to drop pebbles on how to deliver safety culture performance excellence with safety personnel and associated executives across our planet.  Not surprisingly, the desire to help other people, as influential people helped me, has allowed my many acquaintances to benefit.  In turn they have delivered on their personal desire to spread ripples of learning, way beyond just safety related issues, to many other people.   

There are numerous other people who have sent both pleasurable and painful ripples into my life.  However, the 500 word limit on a blog article forces me to get to the point of this epistle; What pebbles can you drop into the huge pond of life that will ripple out over time to improve the lives of the masses of known, unknown and unseen others?

The Doc

Monday, May 11, 2015

Home safe home – Off-the-job challenges for the safety pro

A while back National Safety Council (NSC) published data about off-the-job safety statistics being far worse than those on the job.  These 2010 statistics had nearly 90% of fatalities and 70% of medical cases occurring to industrial employees while they were away from work. 

At a recent safety consulting meeting, the focus shifted to family time and what the safety pro can do to reduce risk.  How many of us have trained our loved ones and neighbors about basics like:

·         Ladder safety 
·         Fall protection
·         Emergency preparedness
·         Fire extinguisher use
·         Yard work PPE
·         Water safety
·         Phone usage in operating vehicles

Our group took turns training each other on these basic off-the-job safety tips so that we could in turn train our family and friends.  One participant even talked about the importance of developing a “code word” for your children to use when approached by an adult who claims to be representing the absent parent.  We live in a very dynamic world, which is different from when we were raised by our parents. How can you effectively utilize your safety professionalism off the job?

The Doc

Monday, May 4, 2015

Reporting necessities – Where should safety fit into an organization structure

One of the never ending controversies in safety deals with where the safety department and resources should report.   Those of you in this blog audience have probably heard just about every option.  One of the Caterpillar organizations recently asked this question again.  My friend Andy Schneider, Global EHS Manager at Caterpillar Inc., gave this excellent answer:

“We don't have any recommended structure. Some EHS professionals report to operations, some to HR. I've always said it doesn't matter who you report to, as long as you have leadership support and participation. My own safety group has reported to corporate medical, corporate auditing, HR, Cat Production Systems, back to HR and now to Legal Services. Even with all those changes to our reporting, we have still made great progress in safety. And that's because we have had support at the top, no matter who that was.”

As safety professionals, we need the active support that enables us to improve our safety culture.  My personal experiences as a manager either in charge of safety, engineering,  operations, or all of the above have me agreeing with Andy.  If you don’t have a reporting relationship that actively supports your safety needs, how can you go about getting the kind of support that is a critical success factor for world class safety performance?

The Doc

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