• Measuring Safety Cultures

    9 June at 01:52 from atlas

    When you are interested in updating or renovating a home we traditionally utilize a blueprint so that we can visualize the relationship between rooms, spaces and other features of your home. You can then decide if you want to have more space in one area by either adding on or by taking away space in another area. The important thing is that a blueprint allows you to visualize the current situation as well as design your desired state.

    In the same way that a blueprint provides information for designing your home The Cultural BluePrint, provides you with information for designing your culture. This report provides a visual representation of your current culture - the shared beliefs and values within your organization - as well as an explanation of how those beliefs impact performance. This report also gives you ideas on how you can expand your enabling beliefs and how you can reduce your limiting beliefs. This report and the process are designed to:

    • Build awareness and acceptance of the current culture and the impact on performance including safety

    • Drive discussion and alignment around a desired culture

    • Provide a path forward to achieving the desired culture 

    • Measure progress towards that desired culture

    • Provide overall data as well as subgroup data - revealing sub cultures and counter cultures in order to focus development work as well as to identify leverage points

    Culture and Safety Outcomes Like many aspects of organizational growth and effectiveness - the simple answer is to define the right behavior and make the employees follow that.  This is where the idea of resistance to change and change management comes into play.  How do we get the employees to want to do these behaviors that are good for them?

    The numbers from so many research findings and observations show a triangulation on key truth.  We have seen study after study reveal that over 70% of change initiatives fail.  We have also seen another set of studies that show that at least 70% of the workforce is disengaged. Finally, what we have seen and observed is that 70% of organizational cultures are defensive. 

    So if we want growth (the adoption of more safe and productive behaviors and technology) we need to create a more engaged workforce through a more constructive culture.  Since 1971 we have helped individuals, groups, organizations and communities adapt to a growth mindset.  At the core we work through understanding that behind every behavior is a set of beliefs, habits, attitudes and expectations.  We move beyond the understanding to how to we change that mindset and achieve the level of engagement that will drive workplace safety.

    Specifically, we have looked at how culture impacts beliefs and attitudes of employees directly and indirectly through the systems and leadership.  

    The outcomes we desire for workplace safety come from employees demonstrating and implementing effective safe behaviors as they approach their work and each other.

    Our key link is to get at the beliefs and attitude that will ensure that those behaviors are want to and not have to - so they truly become 1st nature way of operating - not just when the boss is watching. 

    To achieve these beliefs and attitudes we recognize that there are three main opportunities for influencing and reshaping our workforce beliefs to align with a more engaged and safe mindset. Supervision and Leadership This includes the critical aspect of the immediate supervisor - and the impact that person has on their team's attitude.  The larger leadership construct deals with the consistency communication and investment to the message that safety is a priority. Alignment and Systems These include the critical aspect of the process and systems - do they support safe working practices or do they create conflicts for the individual worker to have to decided which is more important in that moment. Culture The root cause of all of this - is the underlying culture driving the leaders and systems as well as the individual beliefs and attitudes towards a safe workplace.  

    Organizational Culture Organizational culture is the shared values and beliefs, which drive behavior, which impacts performance.  In simple terms when an organization creates the belief that individual effort makes a difference, that drives "Want To" behaviors, that result in a more engaged and productive workforce.  Conversely when an organization creates the belief that individual effort does not make any difference, this drives "Have To" behaviors that result in a disengaged less productive workforce.

    The Cultural BluePrint is used to measure both the current reality as well as the vision Culture.  The survey consists of 90 behaviors that are routinely expected in organizations. Some of the behaviors represent limiting beliefs that constrain performance while others represent more enabling beliefs that enhance performance.

    Current Reality - When completing the survey about the current culture, organization members are asked to describe the behavioral "styles" they are expected to adopt in carrying out their work and when interacting with others. These behavioral expectations have a direct bearing on the activities of members and the functioning of the organization, and have been shown to be related to important outcomes such as member satisfaction, motivation, teamwork, quality of products/services, and other established criteria of organizational effectiveness (e.g., sales performance). These expectations of cultural styles result from and are reinforced by managerial philosophies and methodologies, organizational structure variables, reward systems, and other factors that can be changed-at least to some extent- by those in leadership positions. Vision Similarly, when completing the vision culture the organization members are asked to describe the behavioral styles they think members should adopt when carrying out their work and when interacting with others. As with the current culture, these opinions about the Vision culture are often shaped by existing managerial philosophies and practices, as well as by environmental variables (i.e., the market, the industry), and even by the organization's specific history. It is notable, therefore, that in almost all organizations, there is great consistency among members about the "Vision culture" that an organization should exhibit and reinforce. This general consensus about the Vision culture is what makes it possible to establish relevant, clear, and attainable goals, which are the hallmark of any successful organizational intervention. 

    The survey asked respondents to rate the extent to which people were expected or implicitly required to do. The lists below have been generated by comparing the current reality with the vision data.  The value of these lists is to help understand the current reality culture, what is working well (continue) what needs to developed (increase) and what behaviors need to be stopped (reduced).

    It is important to remember that culture is the shared values and beliefs that drive behavior.  In many ways the results of the culture survey is a report card on the organizations ability to actually live their values.  Most organizational values are consistent with the concepts of the constructive styles.  If an organization actually focuses on ensuring their values are understood and used, their culture will grow more constructive.  Focusing on the organization's values and the behaviors associated with each value provides a more focused and consistent cultural transformation plan.

    Top five behaviors to continue... These are inspiring beliefs and  behaviors that have the smallest gap with the vision, i.e. these are behaviors that are currently being expected: 

    • Accept that important information can come from anyone 

    • See everyone as having value 

    • Cooperate towards the achievement of a common goal 

    • Be respectful of other people's time 

    • Accept personal responsibility for your performance Top five behaviors to increase... These are inspiring beliefs and behaviors that have the largest gap with the vision, i.e. these are behaviors that are currently not being expected enough: 

    • Have an unconditional positive regard for others 

    • Use mistakes as a path to growth 

    • Act on your convictions 

    • Perform beyond the current standard 

    • Focus on what to do next time

    Top five behaviors to reduce... These are limiting beliefs and behaviors that have the largest gap with the vision, i.e. these are behaviors that are currently being expected but are not desirable:

    • Look smart all the time 

    • Focus on what should have happened 

    • Identify the problems and reasons a new plan will not work 

    • Accept the rules regardless of the situation

    • Focus on why we failed

    The ideal state for a safety oriented organization is a situation where safety procedures are an automatic "want to" action - based on the belief that not only is it good for the individual employee but for the coworkers and organization as a whole.  Like the 1st nature approach to wearing seat belts, we just do it because it makes sense. While having an overall score for safety is easy to track and compare, breaking down safety into meaningful components helps in the understanding and development of an action plan. Using a cause and effect model as presented here allows organizations to get to the root cause and impact safety in a more effective way.