Forget the old ways of measuring safety culture maturity. There is a new, more effective way to measure cultural maturity and it starts with looking at the chemistry.
Just as a growing plant needs the right elements in the soil for maximum growth, a safety culture needs the right elements in the organization to maximize its true potential for excellence. Safety culture is much more organic than most of the models recognize and the formation of a safety culture is more akin to growing a plant than to drawing an organizational chart. If you plant the right seeds of capability and control the climate and chemistry, you will grow a safety culture toward excellence. Once it is growing, you can shape it and further adjust the climate and chemistry to maximize its potential. – An excerpt from STEPS to Safety Culture Excellence (2013, Mathis and Galloway)
In consulting globally with many of the best in safety performance and culture, nine elements (see the picture with this post) have been identified as most important foci to establish the chemistry which facilitates the necessary climate for a culture of safety excellence to grow. Through consulting engagements and workshops, these nine elements have been successfully leveraged and measured to help organizations identify both their starting point baseline, and also to strategically prioritize which elements to focus on to advance the capabilities of their safety culture.
A simple exercise to facilitate answering these questions is to lead a group discussion on these nine elements to measure your current cultural maturity around safety. Putting this into practice, every workshop has resulted in very insightful conversations that identify the precise actions that need to be taken to enhance the existing culture of safety. To lead this discussion, a conversation framework is needed, thus the purpose of this article.
If you have read my work, participated in any of my workshops or keynote presentations or worked with me directly, you will know I work hard to always provide more take-away tools than motivational fluff. If I was able to provide the framework to facilitate the internal dialogue in article format, I would.
To assist you on your journey to safety excellence, I would like to share this tool with you. To obtain a copy for your internal use, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject of Please Send Chemistry of SCE and our staff will respond at our earliest opportunity.
Cultures will always influence the beliefs and behaviors of employees and contractors as they join the group. You can either manage the chemistry, climate and culture, or the results in any area of operational performance will be managed by them. I invite you to start the conversation to strategically enhance the safety aspect of your company culture and measure your progress by contributed value, not just the lowering of injury rates.
Shawn M. Galloway is the President and COO of ProAct Safety. He writes (and tweets:@safetyculture) about his work helping organizations in all industries to achieve and sustain excellence in their culture and performance. He resides near Houston, Texas with his wife and three children.