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GM – Election Lessons for Safety (2016)

\\\\\\  \\\\\\      CURRENT AFFAIRS      //////  //////
Aug 2016
     

Election Lessons for Safety

Picture: local elections logo

     

The dust hasn’t quite settled yet, but it is nevertheless a good time for me to put on my safety hat and, once again, share my views with you on the recent elections. There are some safety lessons we can learn.

The outcome was, to a certain extent, determined by the campaign strategy. The ANC campaigned to retain its position and not lose control rather than going out to win and strengthen its position. The DA campaigned for change, a good strategy when your current climate is one of high dissatisfaction with the status quo. The EFF campaigned for the poor and marginalised. Their ticket was one of hope for a better future for those who have nothing to lose.

So, here are the lessons:

  • If you run your safety campaigns with the aim of not doing worse than before, you are on the wrong track. Trying to beat the previous record is just more of the same. A campaign for change, improvement and hope is the one that will get you voters’ buy-in.
  • Beautiful election manifestos, full of undertakings and promises, are just that – beautiful pieces of paper. Like your safety policy, they are meaningless and likely to end up windswept or in the dustbin unless you step up to the challenge and put the words into action.

ACTION

  • Look at your safety campaigns. What is the message to your “voters”? Seriously, if your employees were to “vote for safety”, how well would you do?
  • Look at your safety policy. How well is it adhered to? Is it just looking pretty on the wall so that you can earn that tick at the next audit?

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SCnSP – Lessons from Cats

♦♦  SAFETY CULTURE   &   SAFETY PERFORMANCE  ♦♦

In this series, I share with you my thoughts on Why Safety Is An Issue For Most Companies and the Things We Must Address If We Want To Improve Our Safety Performance. The “Trust Factor” is one of those fundamental things.

Lessons from Cats

(Near Hit and Incident reporting)

graphic depicting cat - trust - expose soft belly

My wife and I love animals. We have two large dogs and five cats. It is my act of love to brush the cats every Saturday. Lula, the oldest one, is full of trust and flops onto her back, exposing her soft underbelly without any problem. Pippa, on the other hand, would never do this voluntarily and will only expose her underbelly in an all-claws-out fight!

So why do these cats behave so differently? The answer lies in one word – trust.

Lula was born on our bed, showered with care and love for the entire 16 years of her life. She has no hesitation to present herself in the most vulnerable position. Pippa, on the other hand, is one of our rescue children and grew up somewhere in the gutters of Benoni. She had to fend for herself, got ‘raped’ at six months of age and was left with a litter of kittens. Who knows what else has happened to her? Her deep-rooted mistrust throws her into sheer distress when I turn her onto her back to brush her belly.

The link to safety and, indeed, leadership.

Do your people trust you enough to expose their soft underbelly to you?

By that I mean:

  • Do they trust you enough so as to disclose all the near hits, incidents, cuts and bruises, breach of rules and procedures and mistakes, not only in terms of safety, but also in quality, costs, human relations, and …
  • You expect them to report these occurrences, but what have you done to earn their trust? Is your company culture a “Lula” experience with reliable care and love? Or is it a “Pippa” experience of wariness, where people get penalised for mistakes, feel they have to watch their backs and have learned to trust no one?

ACTION

  • Don’t brush this off as another sermon about the soft side of business. This is a fundamental issue. If you don’t really listen, respect, recognise, care and relate to your people, with integrity, you cannot expect them to expose their underbelly to you in full trust.
  • Analyse your emotional balance sheet – penalty vs praise. We are experts at holding up the red card and hardly ever show a green card – the pat on the back, a genuine thank you for doing the everyday things, for sticking to the rules, for ideas, for their commitment, for finishing the project, for …
  • Allow your subordinates to hold up the mirror to their / your leaders, without fear or favour.
    “The mirror we hold up to the person next to us is one of the most important pictures he / she will ever see.” — Seth Godin
    I am not a big fan of surveys, but an anonymous, simple survey might help you?

REFERENCE MATERIAL

“Trust and Respect” – from the book Life EduAction by Jürgen Tietz

“Care and Growth” approach by Etsko Schuitema

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GM – GUPTA Lessons

♦♦ SPECIAL EDITION ♦ SPECIAL EDITION ♦ SPECIAL EDITION ♦♦

My thoughts on this hot topic!

GUPTA Lessons

Wedding debacle GUPTA lessons

(for Leadership)

As leaders, there is much we can learn from the recent GUPTA wedding debacle.

GUPTA = Generally Underestimated People Taking Action

  1. If you want to catch people’s attention, do something creative, unique and novel with lots of passion. Treat your people like VIP’s. You don’t have to charter a plane, use a blue light circus, or hire the Lost Palace at Sun City.
  2. Even with all the money in the world, you still have to follow protocols, policies and procedures. You cannot just “do things on the fly”.
  3. Involve all the right people, plan it properly and communicate with everyone affected, in writing. It’s about team work!
  4. Your people are watching you 24/7. Your leadership microphone is never switched off. Your followers judge you by what they can see = your behaviour and ACTIONS.
  5. ACTIONS have consequences. People choose to do, or not to do, something. People choose to take chances or short cuts.
  6. If we are serious about it, the truth will eventually come out.
  7. Kungumsebenzi wami“. Take responsibility for your actions, including your decisions. Don’t blame others. Have the guts to own up and face the music. You earn respect by saying: “I made a mistake and I am accountable for that”.
  8. As a leader, you have to account for the actions and behaviour of your followers. Don’t just ‘punish’ the officials or workers involved. What about their superiors?
  9. ACT fast and be fair. If it is possible to salvage the situation, then do so and give feedback to your people.
  10. Learn the lessons from your mistakes and share these openly. Making a mistake is human, but repeating the same mistake is stupidity – which cannot be cured.

 

ACTION

For unique and novel ideas of how to treat your people as VIP’s, download my COOL TOOL™ Safety Cookie™ overview here.

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Lessons from a Champion

“Every vision is just a joke
until the first man accomplishes it;
once realized, it becomes commonplace.”

— Dr. Robert Goddard

This is a quote I got from a newsletter, STAGE TIME, by Darren LaCroix.

I am sharing this with you, because, apart from the fundamental truth of Robert’s wisdom, we all can learn from champions. Here are two champions at work:

First, Robert.
Father of rocket propulsion and thus the space age.

Jurgen Tietz: Dr Robert Goddard - champion

photo courtesy NASA Goddard Space Flight Center;
used under Creative Commons Licence

Second, Darren.
A champion speaker, who has given me tons of input into improving my speaking skills.

Jurgen Tietz: Darren LaCroix - champion

photo courtesy http://darrenlacroix.com/media/

If you want to become a thought leader yourself,
find and learn from your own champions in your area of expertise.

Jürgen

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SCnSP – Running Like Hell and Panting Like Crazy

♦♦  CULTURE   &   SAFETY PERFORMANCE  ♦♦
Nov 2016
     

Running like hell, panting like crazy

What it takes to be a “top dog” …
… doing instead of talking

Picture: panting like crazy

     

Do you feel like you’re running like hell and panting like crazy … and getting nowhere? Then this one is for you, whether you are a CEO or a frontline manager. At each level, you are a leader in your own right. In fact, at home, in your family and in your community you are a leader, without appointment or position – merely by your actions.

There are thousands of books, written on leadership.
My take on leadership is simple and practical.

Leadership is what you believe, what you see, what you hear, what you read and learn, but, most of all, what you do:

  • the movement you create by the action you take (because words rarely change things);
  • the trust you create – envision, change, simplify, know and innovate;
  • the integrity you show – listen, respect, recognise, care and relate;
  • the way you deal with accountability – fix, coach, build, help, empower and expect results.

Leaders don’t wait for instructions – they provide direction.

If you are spending your time in meetings, instructing, prescribing, following up, chasing, checking, reviewing, supervising and, in general, trying to control what other people are or should be doing, then you are not leading, but managing [1]. You are most probably running like hell and panting like crazy.

Picture: Disruptive safety call to action icon

Do work that matters.
Care about how what you do impacts on others.
Protect and grow your people, balance priorities with resources, empower your people, make them think and then get out of their way.

Stand back, take a helicopter view, educate and empower and move your people from dependence to interdependence.
Why? There’ll be less running and panting and definitely more positive results.

[1]    You manage/handle horses, not people! Manage comes from manege ‹ Italian maneggiare to handle, train (horses), derivative of mano ‹ Latin manus hand. Present use, to be in charge of, run, be head of, head, direct, control, preside over, lead, govern, rule, command, superintend, supervise, oversee, administer, organise, conduct, handle, take forward, guide, be at the helm of.

RELATED LINKS

Purpose” from the series “Safety on a Shoestring Budget

Safety as a Value – Leaders’ Roles and Responsibilities

Safety, for Safety’s Sake

Gupta Lessons

Action Speaks Louder Than Words

The Politics of Safety

Discipline and Passion

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SCnSP – Safety Through Improvement

♦♦  CULTURE   &   SAFETY PERFORMANCE  ♦♦
Oct 2016
     

Safety Through Improvement

Lessons from flat tyres

Picture: 1950's on-the-road breakdown repairs

     

I have 2 vehicle-related anecdotes from which lessons can be learnt. The first is from my youth and the second a much more recent one.

I still remember vividly the long trips we used to take by car when I was a young boy, growing up in Namibia in the 1950’s.

In those days, there were no tarmac roads and motor vehicles weren’t very reliable. It was quite normal on such trips for the car to break down a few times. Two or three punctures and maybe even having to replace a tyre were quite common too. This meant that, before every trip, we had to prepare a set of spares, including spark plugs, fan belts and, of course, tyres, tubes and patches. We also packed a toolbox, tyre pump, wheel spanner, jack and a can of water (to fill up the radiator) into the car. Invariably, dealing with breakdowns meant cuts, bruises and other injuries, so the First Aid kit we carried in the car was also restocked on a regular basis.

The lesson to be learnt from this story is that plant and process reliability improve safety. Every time we have to carry out maintenance work or an operational intervention, especially modifications, changes and non-routine work, the risk of injury and damage increases because we have to fit and fiddle to make things work. It is for that reason that we have to change things for the better through continuous improvement [1]. One way to do that is to look at how advances in technology can help us to design in safety.

Recently, as I was driving home, I noticed a slight vibration on the steering and that the car was pulling to the left. I didn’t worry about it too much and drove on. When I got home, I saw that one of the front tyres was almost flat. On closer inspection, I noticed that a nail had pierced the sidewall of the tyre, causing a slow puncture.

A tyre going flat from a nail puncture doesn’t happen overnight. In a slow puncture, the tyre loses pressure slowly over a number of days, which brings me to the lesson in this anecdote. Despite the best advances in technology and design, we still have to play our part in safety. I didn’t carry out the Circle of Safety [2], i.e. I didn’t walk around my car before starting the engine and driving off. If I had, I would definitely have noticed that the tyre was going flat and have avoided a potentially serious incident. Just imagine what could have happened if I had been taking a longer trip, at full speed, on the highway!

Picture: Disruptive safety call to action icon

  1. Get together with your maintenance and operations teams to examine maintenance and non-routine operations tasks that involve a high degree of risk, e.g. potentially fatal situations like working at heights, lifting loads, working in confined spaces, lockouts, etc. This is like a HIRA (Hazard Identification Risk Assessment), except that it has a specific focus on design and plant and process reliability.
  2. It is best to man these teams with the people who “push the buttons and use the tools”. I’m not suggesting that you exclude the engineers, just that you apply a hands-on approach, rather than sticking to the boardroom / paper exercise.
  3. Keep it simple to start with and don’t fall into the trap of analysis paralysis by trying to redesign the entire process or machine. Look for opportunities for projects which involve minimal resources and can be done fairly quickly, yet still result in an immediate and visible improvement in safety [3].

[1]    “Prevention rather than cure

[2]    “Walking the Circle of Safety

[3]    “Just Do Something Safe

        “Ukuhlanya: Safety Paradox & Disruptive Safety

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GM – Water and Women in Rail n Safety Conference

\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\      CURRENT AFFAIRS      ///////////////
Sep 2016

Today, I have 2 matters which I wish to speak about, so I will keep each one short, but that is by no means an indication of the importance that I attach to both.

     

1.  Running Water

Picture: water

     

Recently, we spent a week at a private game lodge, in the tented camp, right in the middle of the bushveld. It was a most enriching experience for us to be able to get back to nature. The peace and quiet of the bush really makes one appreciate the environment. At this time of the year, especially during current times of drought, the veld is dry and the ground hungry for water, but the rains are still far away.

We had access to water in a can and hand basin, as well as a shower, although it provided only a low-pressure trickle of water. We were pleasantly surprised at how much less water one uses under these circumstances. This experience gave me a new appreciation for how precious water really is in this country. Many of us who have running water take it for granted and forget how easy it is to abuse water usage as a result!

ACTION

Look at where you are using running water.
Apart from doing the basics required by law, what can you do NOW to save water?  These are things we should be doing all the time for the future sustainability of our planet, not only when there is a drought or low-rain situation.

If you’re stuck for ideas, check out this list of more than 100 ways to save water.  There are bound to be at least a few suggestions there that you haven’t thought of / implemented yet!

     

2.  Conference: Women in Rail and Safety

     

I highly recommend this ‘golden’ (or should I say ‘purple’?) opportunity for all women who receive my safety tips, as well as all of you who employ women in a safety role!

The speaker lineup and content has me thinking about sneaking into the venue and taking up a low profile, back row seat.

Picture: Women in Rail and Safety Conference 2016: covering workplace human factors of (1) shift work and its effects on women, (2) obesity, (3) lifestyle diseases, (4) functional capacity, (5) overall health and wellness, (6) cracked glass ceiling, (7) professionalism and ethics, (8) surviving in a male-dominated environment, (9) dealing with workplace harassment as a safety issue, (10) health and safety in the workplace.

For details and registration, you can look at the article on SHEQAfrica. Contact names and details are provided there.

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SCnSP – Safety Is Not A Game

♦♦  SAFETY CULTURE   &   SAFETY PERFORMANCE  ♦♦
Jul 2016
     

Safety Is Not A Game

How are you pushing safety?

Picture: Give a thumbs up or pat on the back for a job well done

     

Work, especially in terms of safety, should not be seen as a game, with the key components of goals, rules, challenges, interaction and with mostly luck as a basis to create fun.

Unfortunately, I still see many, many companies treat safety that way. They run competitions and use safety results as if safety performance were a race with records to be broken. They hold year-end functions congratulating the winners, holding up the best of this and the best of that. The perceived implication, of course, is that all others are losers, although it is never put that way.

Companies need to look at the types of safety incentives they use and the unspoken message this sends to their people. To me, the most powerful way to motivatestimulate and inspire safe behaviour is by recognition and prompt feedback.

Establish a culture of ongoing recognition and incentives, not once a year or only when records are broken or only for the b-i-g achievements. The “green card” technique gives recognition, immediately, to the person observed doing the right and safe thing. Be VFL’s (Visible Felt Leaders) by making recognition visible and felt now, not later!

Keep a close eye on what is motivating you to give recognition – there’s a fine line between appreciation and manipulation and people are able to pick up really quickly on false praise.

ACTION

Giving recognition isn’t complicated and yet it is so powerful as it helps to create a motivating climate, but it does take time and effort:

  • Establish ownership.
  • Find at least one person you can give recognition to on each of your walkabouts, by searching for things done right or well.
  • Tell that person what they did right and that it has been noticed.
  • Encourage that person to keep up the good work.
  • Do it in the presence of the co-workers and supervisor.

RELATED READING

Your Safety Monument

How to Implement Your Safety Dream

Lessons From Cats

The Power of Gold

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GM – World Safety and Health Day at Work 2016

++  WORLD HEALTH  &  SAFETY AT WORK DAY  +  28 April 2016  ++
Mar 2016

What is your total cost of absenteeism? I know one of your dashboard figures is most probably injuries and damages, but subtract that from the total cost of absenteeism, and you’ll find that the remainder is the cost of wellness. Now you might say: “That’s not my problem, that’s HR’s problem”, but you’d be wrong. There’s a direct link between safety and wellness: employee health -> productivity -> injuries -> absenteeism  [1].

     

WORKPLACE STRESS:

A Collective Challenge

graphic depicting workplace stress

     

Some stats:

  • Absenteeism costs the SA economy around R12-16 billion per year.
  • On average 15-30% of staff could be absent on any given day. Take your annual salary bill and do the sums!
  • One day’s absence can cost a company 3 days’ worth of salary  [2].
  • 2 out of 3 employees who fail to show up for work aren’t physically ill. There are a whole host of reasons  [2], with stress and sleep disorders being the “top cause of lost work time”.

The theme for the upcoming World Safety and Health Day, on 28 April 2016, is:

graphic showing World Day for Safety and Health at Work - 28 April 2016

The abstract below, from the ILO site  [3], details the issue of stress very nicely. Your HR / Wellness people should be able to relate to this:

Today, many workers are facing greater pressure to meet the demands of modern working life. Psychosocial risks such as increased competition, higher expectations on performance and longer working hours are contributing to the workplace becoming an ever more stressful environment. With the pace of work dictated by instant communications and high levels of global competition, the lines separating work from life are becoming more and more difficult to identify. In addition, due to the significant changes labour relations and the current economic recession, workers are experiencing organizational changes and restructuring, reduced work opportunities, increasing precarious work , the fear of losing their jobs, massive layoffs and unemployment and decreased financial stability, with serious consequences to their mental health and well-being.

And it’s not only in the office but also in the plants, as highlighted in David’s story in the DHHS publication, “Stress at Work”  [4]:

The nature of work is changing at whirlwind speed. Perhaps now more than ever before, job stress poses a threat to the health of workers and, in turn, to the health organizations. For weeks David had been plagued by aching muscles, loss of appetite, restless sleep, migraine headaches and a complete sense of exhaustion. At first he tried to ignore these problems, but eventually he became so short-tempered and irritable that his wife insisted he get a check-up. He told the doctor: ‘Since the reorganization, nobody feels safe. It used to be that as long as you did your work, you had a job. That’s not for sure anymore. They expect the same production rates even though two guys are now doing the work of three. We’re so backed up I’m working twelve-hour shifts six days a week. I swear I hear those machines humming in my sleep. Guys are calling in sick just to get a break. Morale is so bad they’re talking about bringing in some consultants to figure out a better way to get the job done.’

ACTION

Here is your chance to do something about safety and health in your workplace.

I’m not putting any pressure on you (just giving you a gentle push) … 28 April is around the corner.  It’s an ideal opportunity for you to call me in to do my presentation addressing Safety and Workplace Stress. I’m your guy!  [5]

[1]   “Absenteeism Management“, OCSA

[2]   “Causes and Costs of Absenteeism in the Workplace“, Forbes

[3]   ILO: World Day for Safety & Health at Work

[4]   “Stress at Work“, CDC, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 99-101

[5]   Re-energise & sustain your safety, health & wellness efforts

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GM – VW Deception

♦♦♦   CURRENT AFFAIRS   ♦♦♦
Oct 2015

VW Deception

(Lessons About Measurement)

The VW deception[1]  is unforgivable. Yes, we should denounce this kind of behaviour and yes, heads should roll.  It leaves one discomforted, distrustful, wondering if it is happening, as yet undiscovered, in pharmaceuticals, medical care or health & hygiene, especially in food processing. (Mind you, a while back it did, with the horse meat scandal[2].)

I see this behaviour as a direct consequence of a culture where measurement becomes the end in itself and not the means to an end. It’s what happens when we ‘cook the books’ to reflect the result we are looking for, instead of assessing the results so as to ensure quality, safety, health, risk control or environmental protection. True measurement goes way beyond compliance to a minimum standard. Proper measurement is a tool for continuous improvement.

What VW did is similar to what is being done by many companies. Whenever a company ‘sets up’ or ‘spring cleans’ or ‘prepares’ just before an audit or alters statistics in order to meet audit criteria to keep the record intact … it is committing fraud by deception. It is defrauding its personnel, or the public or both.

We tend to feel quite justified in making our own amendments to figures. So did the guys directly involved at VW. But now VW is in trouble, because the company was caught out and it has customers who can vote with their wallet. As a top brand there is only one way – down.

Misrepresenting or selectively using data is a world-wide occurrence. Why did we find it necessary to put so much time and effort into the King Commission on corporate governance[3]?  Surely not because there is no problem in our backyards?

ACTION

This is between you and your conscience. Look into the mirror and ask yourself how often and by how much you adjust the figures on emissions, effluents, performance, waste, recycling, accidents, observations, near miss reporting, performance, costs … ? If you are in a leadership position, you might not be directly involved, but you are accountable for the culture which breeds this kind of behaviour in your organisation!

[1]   “Volkswagen: The scandal explained“, by Russell Hotten, BBC News, 7 October 2015

[2]   “2013 meat adulteration scandal“, from Wikipedia

[3]   “King Report on Corporate Governance“, from Wikipedia

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