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Do as I do

December 2, 2008

In a safety conscious environment, breaches are reported immediately to identify root causes and establish procedures to avoid the repetition of problems. One key element of improving safety is culture. If an organisation is dedicated to safety, it will publish not only it’s procedures, but the lessons it has learned along the way to developing them. The last thing it wants to do is have the same problem occurring over and over again in different areas of the organisation.

Publishing these breaches of safety shows that the organisation is committed to safety. It is willing to spend resources and effort in measuring it’s success and raising awareness. This leads to establishing better practices that make the environment even more safe and involves all levels of the organisation.

It comes down to an something that was forced into me during my education as a workplace trainer – show, don’t tell. Don’t tell someone what to do, show them how to do it. In this case, the organisation is showing us how they are improving safety, not just telling us that they are committed to doing so.

I chose safety because my expertise is in fields that are safety focused. An organisation can demonstrate it’s commitment to service, quality or efficiency identically. Documenting work practices and results can be used to promote the organisation’s focus or stance on particular topics. This goes just beyond standards and includes things like programs for reform or continual improvement. For example:

  • Documented reporting procedures (confidential if necessary) can reveal hidden flaws;
  • Documented results can help the organisation focus on weaknesses or threats;
  • Documented success can motivate or improve performance; and
  • Documented standards set bench marks and help identify top performers.

None of these are designed to point the finger at anyone or distribute blame. The key is identifying opportunities the increase organisational effectiveness.

Ultimately, documenting shows organisational transparency. The more an team member knows about the team, the better they are at identifying their role in it and the more they know about their team’s goals the better they are at achieving them.

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