Safety Culture Excellence®

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Milestones: The Tendency to Think Backwards

October 22nd, 2014

A client recently emailed me about a celebration his organization had held to recognize the workforce for reaching a “milestone in their progress towards safety excellence.”  I asked if the “milestone” was something identified on their road map to safety excellence.  After some hesitation he admitted that it was not on the road map but that they had recognized a significant achievement that they believed would be sustainable and wanted to celebrate it.

There is nothing inherently wrong with looking backwards and realizing you have accomplished something worthwhile, but there is a missed opportunity.  Mapping out a journey and identifying milestones in advance does not detract from the satisfaction of reaching them.  In fact, it reinforces the feelings because there was a clear plan to get there and accomplishing the goal is even more satisfying than accidentally realizing success.  Clarity of purpose and direction creates milestones in the road ahead and not just in the rear-view mirror.  

Visible progress toward goals is one of the cheapest and most effective motivators available.  Use it deliberately, communicate your progress continuously, celebrate successes earnestly and motivate your workforce toward safety excellence relentlessly.

-Terry L. Mathis

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Terry L. Mathis is the founder and CEO of ProAct Safety, an international safety and performance excellence firm. He is known for his dynamic presentations in the fields of behavioral and cultural safety, leadership, and operational performance, and is a regular speaker at ASSE, NSC, and numerous company and industry conferences. EHS Today listed Terry as a Safety Guru in ‘The 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS in 2010, 2011 and 2012-2013. He has been a frequent contributor to industry magazines for over 15 years and is the coauthor of STEPS to Safety Culture Excellence, 2013, WILEY.
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