Four industry experts turn traditional performance reporting on its head and suggest new ways to influence senior leader engagement.
Andy Anderson CMIOSH
Health and safety manager, Amazon
Having spent many hours discussing OSH metrics, I would not describe them as inspiring. Unfortunately, many business leaders I have worked with have become obsessed with the metrics, and when they notice them going in the wrong direction, they see it as a sign of failure instead of a learning point. That then cascades down the business in a negative way. The most effective way to inspire leaders is to weave in personal experiences with the metrics – bring the metrics off the page and make them real with a compelling story. This brings emotion to the discussion and results in better approaches to safety.
Antonio Javier Gaspar Marichal CMIOSH
EHS manager, Dematic
Knowing where you are is not enough; it’s too late – you were actually there ages ago. Most OSH performance and progress reports look backwards and present information on historical events. This provides a limited insight into the current state of affairs, and no predictive value. To influence strategy and improve risk management practices, senior leaders need both insight and foresight. Reports should tell a compelling story about how OSH interventions contribute to organisational success and support business ambitions. This leads to stronger leadership buy-in.
Chris Clark CMIOSH
SHE adviser, Morgan Sindall Group
Data can be used and represented in a variety of ways; it can also be manipulated to provide a false representation of an organisation’s safety performance on the ground. Reporting leading and lagging indicators is no replacement for leadership engagement with the workforce. Observation is a critical skill needed by all senior leaders. Workers will naturally change the way they usually operate when they are under observation (work to rule). But when a person becomes accustomed to being observed, they will revert to their normal way of working – once that occurs, the observations will then truly represent the organisation and its safety performance.
Lynda Parkinson CMIOSH
Health and safety lead, HB Projects Ltd
Although it is important to track, measure and demonstrate to the C-suite and external bodies that we are managing trends and identifying opportunities for improvement, it’s not very inspirational. If a monthly board report is the only contact the health and safety team has with senior leaders, it’s unlikely that new initiatives will gain their backing. There is real value in senior leaders – including health and safety leaders – being seen ‘at the sharp end’, engaging with workers about the challenges they face. Visible leadership and support from the top can make a real difference in implementing change, rather than chasing statistics.