From My Bookshelf to Yours: ‘No Compromise’
Dang you, Ken Sheridan. I had a life and a job that I enjoyed, and I thought I had safety figured out. Then you wrote “No Compromise: The Truth About Workplace Safety & Business Success.” I couldn’t put it down, and worse yet, chapter four is so good I read it three times before I ever got to chapter five.
On top of that, I just published my second book – “Frontline Incident Prevention – The Hurdle: Innovative and Practical Insights on the Art of Safety” – which I was really excited to promote in this issue of Incident Prevention magazine. Because of you, I can’t do that; instead, I must talk about your book and share some of its wisdom with my readers. So again, dang you, Ken Sheridan.
“No Compromise” really does tell the truth about workplace safety and business success. In the book, Sheridan eloquently describes the relationship between safety and productivity and explains what an organization needs to do to get safety right. Now, there are a lot of books out there that do that. Sheridan adds the how and why to get safety right in the utility industry. I love the book’s focus on positive reinforcement, near-miss reporting and, most importantly to me, the role of frontline leaders and the skill of leadership. The rest of this article will provide an overview and some highlights of each of the nine safety truths contained in “No Compromise.”
Safety Truth #1: History will repeat itself unless you make a change.
We have all made errors that can be valuable learning lessons if they are shared. In Sheridan’s words, “To prevent incidents from reoccurring, we need to figure out what changes to make and have the courage and motivation to realize those changes and the initiative to sustain them. Reporting near-misses is one way to determine what changes we need to make and communicating them to others ensures safety for everyone. There’s no better time to learn how to prevent a near-miss or incident from recurring than right after it happens.”
Safety Truth #2: Safety is good business.
This truth says it all. Sheridan challenges the norm of not associating incident prevention with profits and explains why safety does best under the operations umbrella.
Safety Truth #3: The safety model that works best is top-led and employee-driven.
Hopefully this isn’t a radical concept for you. Sheridan explains it well, and I love his example of an executive teaching everyone to back into parking spaces without saying a word.
Safety Truth #4: As goes the frontline leader, so goes safety.
This is one of the best chapters in any book, ever. As someone with a career dedicated to teaching frontline leadership and safety, I couldn’t agree more with Sheridan that frontline leaders are the go-to influencers. I won’t list them here, but please read his nine ways to excel as a frontline leader and make sure all your frontline leaders understand that list. I concur with Sheridan that this industry is missing opportunities to groom frontline leaders. I also agree that leadership is a skill, meaning it can be learned, practiced and improved. Make sure every one of your frontline leaders has the opportunity to learn the skills they need. Sheridan says it, and it’s true: They arguably have a greater role in culture creation than anyone else in your organization.
Safety Truth #5: Professionalism drives positive safety performance.
Sheridan does a fantastic job of explaining why our industry tends to focus on the negative and why we should focus more on the positive. And there’s no doubt you can learn a lot about people just by looking at their trucks.
Safety Truth #6: Pay attention to what is going on in your organization.
Pay attention to where your attention is focused and what may be happening at your organization that compromises safety. And I love this idea: It’s not what happens; it’s how we react to what happens.
Safety Truth #7: Everyone must own safety for No Compromise Safety Culture to work.
This chapter offers a great elaboration of Safety Truth #3 along with lessons about the unintended positive benefits of safety and how change impacts safety. Additionally, this will be huge for a lot of you: What happens to safety and culture when companies merge? Sheridan has some insight and practical tips you need to read.
Safety Truth #8: Each and every person in the company has an important safety role.
Sheridan provides great discussion about the roles of management, safety, frontline leaders and training. While I don’t want to bring up chapter four again, do not discount the role of frontline leaders.
Safety Truth #9: Safety is not just about you.
In my opinion, “influence” is the most important word when talking about safety leadership, and Sheridan nails it with this truth. Not to mention, this is also very true: Safety influencers often come from the most unpredictable places.
“No Compromise” – available at https://kensheridan.com – is a must-read for anyone wanting to learn about what their organization needs to do in terms of safety. I am extremely honored and excited to have Sheridan discuss his book during my upcoming Frontline Fundamentals webinar and podcast. The complimentary webinar will take place November 2 at 1 p.m. Eastern. In the meantime, I hope you’ll read both Sheridan’s book and my two books.
About the Author: David McPeak, CUSP, CIT, CHST, CSP, CSSM, is the director of professional development for Utility Business Media’s Incident Prevention Institute (https://ip-institute.com) and the author of “Frontline Leadership – The Hurdle” and “Frontline Incident Prevention – The Hurdle.” He has extensive experience and expertise in leadership, human performance, safety and operations. McPeak is passionate about personal and professional development and believes that intrapersonal and interpersonal skills are key to success. He also is an advanced certified practitioner in DISC, emotional intelligence, the Hartman Value Profile, learning styles and motivators.
About Frontline Fundamentals: Frontline Fundamentals topics are derived from the Incident Prevention Institute’s popular Frontline training program (https://frontlineutilityleader.com). Frontline covers critical knowledge, skills and abilities for utility leaders and aligns with the Certified Utility Safety Professional exam blueprint.
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