How improving workplace safety increases profits

If a new CEO announced worker safety as the number one priority, would you call him a crazy hippie who will surely ruin the company? Or would you predict that putting workplace safety first will improve performance and transform the organization into a profit machine?

Research shows that company habits define the organization’s culture, and that by focusing on improving the safety habit, an entire culture can shift.* Our experience with clients such as Linde Engineering, shows that developing coaching skills and behaviours is the best way to improve these safety habits.

It helps to have a visionary leader. When Paul O’Neill took over the leadership of industrial giant Alcoa in 1987 he announced that his focus would be on improving the company’s safety. O’Neill knew he had to transform Alcoa. He also knew he could not order people to change, as that is not how the brain works. By shifting worker safety habits, O’Neill created patterns of better communication including recommendations for business improvements that otherwise would have remained out of sight. A chain reaction started which lifted profits.

“By the time O’Neill retired in 2000, to become Treasury Secretary, the company’s annual net income was five times larger than before he arrived, and its market capitalization had risen by $27 billion. Someone who invested a million dollars in Alcoa on the day O’Neill was hired would have earned another million dollars in dividends while he headed the company, and the value of their stock would be five times bigger when he left. What’s more, all that growth occurred while Alcoa became one of the safest companies in the world.”

* Charles Duhigg, The Huffington Post

How Can You Improve Your Workplace Safety Performance?

In the practice of coaching, the primary objective is to raise awareness (of self and others) and responsibility (for self and others).

In the words of our founder, Sir John Whitmore:

  • Awareness increases the quality and the quantity of the immediate input received in any activity and thereby delivers greater clarity about the action and the emotional reaction to the situation.
  • Responsibility is derived from the capacity to make the most inclusive and appropriate choices based upon the consequences of actions, as opposed to the more common indiscriminate fear reaction.”

By heightening awareness and increasing responsibility, coaching empowers people at all levels of the organization to make better decisions, even life-saving ones in the extreme.

Performance Consultants has launched a dedicated programme focused on workplace safety performance. For more information, click here.

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Case Study: Linde Engineering, Where Coaching Skills Enhance Safety Culture

At Performance Consultants we work with Linde Engineering, a leading technology partner for process plant engineering and construction worldwide, to develop a Coaching Style of Management.

Linde Engineering is a division of The Linde Group, the largest gases and engineering company in the world with approximately 65,500 employees (as of 2015) working in more than 100 countries worldwide.

Across the industry, the traditional approach was to “teach” safety through training. While the rate of accidents and incidents has dramatically reduced, the rate of fatal incidents has not reduced in the same way.

(image of evolution of safety management)

With the traditional approach not addressing this plateau, it was clear to Linde Engineering that they needed to strengthen their focus on behavioural safety.

We started our collaboration with Linde Engineering in 2014, completely revolutionizing the approach to safety in the organization by the introduction of coaching and applying it in the context of Coaching for Safety Performance.

Performance Consultants has transformed workplace safety by creating “learning organizations” where people can learn from their mistakes without being judged, which is key to improving health and safety in the workplace and decreasing injury and illness. Coaching has created a culture of trust and ownership.

We created the structure and curriculum to help managers and leaders develop the skills needed to engage and empower all of their teams directly in workplace safety performance, and play an integral part in making Linde the “safest place to work in the world”.

We have built an innovative learning journey, including online interactive modules, that has inspired participants to champion the programme across the organization.

One aspect that is key to improving safety, is communication between workers and management and vice versa – as a result, people will make better decisions and respond in safer ways.

“This training really is one of the most well thought out training programs I’ve been involved with. It makes you think throughout, and in my opinion, will affect our performance in a positive way.”
James M. Suddarth, Manager, Construction Engineering – Mechanical, Linde Engineering

The initial intention was to target the 7,000 employees of Linde Engineering starting with the Construction and Manufacturing arms of the group. This intention has now been widened to include other businesses within The Linde Group, specifically through the distribution of the e-learning modules. For more detail, click here.

Workplace Safety Performance Coaching Training

At Performance Consultants, we have designed a Coaching for Safety Performance programme combining three 2-day in-person workshops with six e-learning modules. The programme integrates coaching skills into various safety contexts and facilitates better communication, ultimately to reduce injuries and incidents.

The programme can take place globally. Our e-Learning Coaching Training has been launched in English and will also be rolled out in five additional languages – French, Russian, Swedish, German and Chinese – over the next 18 months.

To order an in-house or e-learning programme, or to discuss how we can support the specific training needs of your employees and organization, please email [email protected] or call +44 (0)20 3903 0011.

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Sir John and his colleagues at Performance Consultants were the first to take coaching into the workplace and coined the term “performance coaching” in the early 1980s. We continue to lead the field in performance improvement through coaching leadership training.

Select one of the options shown. Or get in touch and one of our world-class leadership development consultants will work with you to create a tailored programme that meets your specific needs.

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