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Tag: Frontline Fundamentals

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...

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From My Bookshelf to Yours: ‘The 8 Habits of a Highly Effective Safety Culture’

Not long ago, Utility Business Media Inc. published my book, “Frontline Leadership: The Hurdle.” Researching and writing the book helped me learn to appreciate and apply knowledge and wisdom from other writers. In this article, I want to share some highlights from “The 8 Habits of a Highly Effective Safety Culture,” a book recently written by Rod Courtney, CUSP, who also serves as a board member for the Utility Safety & Ops Leadership Network. I’ve heard him speak on this topic many times and highly recommend you read his book. The Habits Now, let’s take a look at the eight habits the book...

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From My Bookshelf to Yours: ‘It’s Your Ship’

During the research and writing process for my new book – “Frontline Leadership: The Hurdle,” published by Utility Business Media Inc. – I read a lot of books, and I want to share some highlights from a few of my favorites. This article will focus on the bestselling “It’s Your Ship” by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff. I hope you find this article useful, and I also hope it inspires you to read both “It’s Your Ship” and my book as part of your continuing personal and professional development. Overview Understanding. That’s a one-word summary of why you should read this book and what you will learn...

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From My Bookshelf to Yours: ‘The Success Principles’

During the research and writing process for my new book – “Frontline Leadership: The Hurdle,” published by Utility Business Media Inc. – I read a lot of books, and I want to share some highlights from a few of my favorites. This article will focus on “The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be” by Jack Canfield. I hope you find this article useful, and I also hope it inspires you to read both “The Success Principles” and my book as part of your continuing personal and professional development. To highlight how much I believe in this book and want to encourage...

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From My Bookshelf to Yours: ‘Extreme Ownership’

What actions can you take to solve problems rather than blaming, complaining, defending and denying? During the research and writing process for my new book – “Frontline Leadership: The Hurdle,” published by Utility Business Media Inc. – I read a lot of books, and I want to share some highlights from a few of my favorites. This article will focus on “Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win,” authored by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. I hope that you find this article useful, and I also hope it inspires you to read both “Extreme Ownership” and my book as part of your continuing personal...

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From My Bookshelf to Yours: ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’

Understanding, developing and applying these habits enable us to better respond to stimuli, making us more effective people. I am excited to tell you that Utility Business Media Inc. recently published “Frontline Leadership: The Hurdle,” a book that I wrote. During the research and writing process, I read a lot of books and want to share some highlights from a few of my favorites. This article will focus on “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” the bestselling book authored by Stephen R. Covey. I hope that you find the article useful, and I hope it inspires you to read both Covey’s book...

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9 Safety Axioms You Need to Know

Safety works with just the nuts and bolts, but not as well as it will if you apply these nine axioms. Too often we focus so much on the nuts and bolts of safety (e.g., grounding procedures, Ohm’s law, work methods for a pole-top rescue) that we lose sight of the big picture. There’s no doubt the nuts and bolts are important, but they lose value if we don’t understand and apply the following nine safety axioms. 1. Safety must be led. There is a video clip of Mike Rowe interviewing a crab boat captain from the TV show “Deadliest Catch.” During the interview, the captain said, “My job is to get...

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Improving Job Briefings

Someone I hold in high regard once said to me, “David, if we can improve our job briefings, we will reduce our injuries by 60%.” I had some hesitation about his statement at the time, and to this day I am not sure I agree with that percentage. But I decidedly do know this: improving job briefings improves safety. I also know that the topic of improving job briefings arises at virtually every education event I am a part of and in conversations regarding almost every incident I’ve heard about. So, what can we do to improve job briefings? For starters, it takes confidence and competence to conduct...

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The Safety Paradox: My Day at the Safety Conference

Here’s a hypothetical and exaggerated scenario about a day I spent attending a safety conference (the iP Utility Safety Conference & Expo, of course!). It begins with me watching a safety glove demonstration. I watch a person put on a glove, crush a wine glass, stab themselves in the hand with a needle and run a sharp knife across their fingers, all without getting hurt. Their hands are invincible, and once I get my hands in those gloves, mine will be, too! Skinning wire with my knife just got a lot safer. Then my phone rings. It’s my wife. There is a slight chance of snow tonight at home,...

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How Common is Common Sense?

How did you learn that a stovetop could be hot and burn you? Some would say that’s common sense, that human beings have an innate awareness of hazards, yet I’m guessing many of you learned the hard way – by touching a hot stove. What about brushing your teeth? Have you ever hurt yourself doing that? When was the last time you locked your keys in your vehicle or slipped on a patch of ice? Have you ever run into a stationary object while driving? If you have common sense, none of these things should ever happen, right? Yet they do. And decidedly, if we all have common sense, it should be impossible...

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Hazards Do Not Discriminate – Nor Should We

Hazards do not discriminate – nor should we. We do not necessarily have to like each other to work safely, but we do have to maintain professional working relationships based on mutual appreciation, caring, respect and trust. Picture this: It’s January 25, 2021. At 9:15 a.m., Curtis, who is working his second day on the job, expresses concern that the outriggers on a crane are not properly cribbed. Carla, the site supervisor, tells Rich, the certified operator, to exit the crane and join her, Curtis and Becky, a signalwoman, for a discussion about the concern. At 9:20 a.m., the crane overturns,...

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Assessments: Highlights and Implementation

If you have seen the movie “Kung Fu Panda,” you probably remember the powerful and inspiring moment when Po comes to the realization that there is no secret ingredient – it’s just him. He was all but unbeatable after that. Sometimes I also think about the secret sauce Michael Jordan gave his team at halftime in the movie “Space Jam,” so they could come back and defeat the Monstars. But while we long for secret ingredients, magic sauces and silver bullets, the reality is that our jobs and lives are complex, with ever-changing roles and no exact road maps. Perhaps, in addition to Po’s wisdom,...

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Emotional Intelligence: Perceive and Apply Emotions in Yourself and Others

“Anyone can become angry. That is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way – that is not easy.” -Aristotle From an early age, many of us were taught that there are bad words we shouldn’t use. I won’t provide any examples here, but I suspect most readers know which words I’m referring to. In our industry, there are other “bad” words that we have learned we should avoid at all costs – because they are perceived to show signs of weakness. These words include “feelings,” “relationships,” “emotions” and “caring.” My...

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Decision Making: Make Balanced Decisions and Avoid Biases

Do good decisions exist? Think about that question for a moment and allow me to explain the intent and purpose of this article. In these pages, I will take the position that good decisions do exist, but people define “good” differently, and that definition changes based on circumstances. That has huge implications for leadership and safety. Take a look at the following questions. What decisions would you make? I can guarantee that some of you have disagreed with family members or friends about these very same topics. When it comes to certain decisions, we have strong opinions; with others, we...

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Web Motivators Word Matrix

Motivators: To Improve Performance, Understand What Drives Your Behavior

So far in this six-part series, we’ve talked about learning styles and the DISC assessment. In this third installment, we’re going to dive into motivators, including an assessment you can take to determine your own personal motivators. Greater self-awareness typically leads to greater personal and professional success. Self-aware people understand what their motivators are and recognize, among other things, that their motivators influence their behaviors and actions. People who understand their motivators are more likely to pursue the right opportunities for the right reasons and use their motivators...

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Behavioral Profiles: Use DISC to Predict and Adapt

Over the years, I have taught or sat through training sessions with thousands of people. Based on my experiences, I can unequivocally state that personality and leadership styles are the training topics that generate the most excitement and discussion among trainees, and the ones that inspire the most aha moments. Relatedly, the DISC profile is the single tool that I get the most positive feedback about – and the one that has had the most positive impact on people’s lives and careers. This article, which is based on the DISC assessment that is offered through the Incident Prevention Institute...

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Learning Styles: Implications for a Trainer

When we talk about leadership and human performance, something we stress is that people are equal but never the same. That’s true for how we behave, what motivates us, how we interact with others and what we will do in specific situations. A tenet of leadership is that your leadership style should be based on the people and circumstances you are dealing with – not on what you personally prefer and are comfortable with. This is also true for how we learn, or what’s referred to as our “learning style.” One person may love to read a book while another might prefer to see the movie. Some people...

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Frontline Fundamentals: Lead to Win Highlights and Implementation

This article wraps up our “Lead to Win” leadership series. In this series, and during the associated webinars, we have discussed characteristics of effective leaders – both who they are and what they do, challenges leaders commonly face, and how to improve your leadership skills and maximize your effectiveness as a leader. The remainder of this article will outline highlights and key points from each article in the series and reinforce that leadership is a skill that can be practiced and improved. As you read, think about how each topic builds on the others and how interrelated and interdependent...

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Frontline Fundamentals: Leadership Styles and the Art of Flexecution

This series of articles began with “Developing a Complete Definition of Leadership” (see https://incident-prevention.com/blog/frontline-fundamentals-developing-a-complete-definition), in which I defined leadership as influence and discussed how the measure of a leader is the performance of their team. We also talked about the fact that many leaders in our industry came up through the ranks in a culture of autocratic leadership and that many people in leadership positions never received any leadership training. That has led to leadership being incompletely defined as telling people what to do...

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Frontline Fundamentals: Coaching and Feedback that Maximize Performance

When I think of the truly great leaders I have had in my life and career, there is one common characteristic they share: the ability to effectively provide coaching and feedback with the primary goal of improving performance and the secondary goal of making me and the team better. Coaching and providing feedback are essential skills you must possess as a leader. They are critical to the success of your team and probably two of the best ways to gain influence and demonstrate C5 leadership (for a refresher on C5 leadership, visit https://incident-prevention.com/blog/frontline-fundamentals-developing-a-complete-definition). Demonstrating...

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Frontline Fundamentals: Valuing Your Team and Developing Relationships

Developing relationships is a huge topic, especially in today’s world of generational differences, cultural sensitivities, political divisions, and a general us-versus-them attitude between organizations, leadership, and frontline workers. It starts with how you onboard new employees and encompasses everything from conflict resolution to codes of conduct. While relationships often are overlooked or ignored, they may be the most influencing factor in the success of your team. Let me tell you about an experience I had that infuriated me. It’s probably the angriest I have been in my professional...

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MAY webinar

Frontline Fundamentals: Stop Telling and Start Communicating

My son once told me, “Daddy, I’m an excellent listener. You’re a bad talker.” I won’t get into the details of what started that conversation, but I will say this, he was right. He did exactly what I told him to do, which was nowhere near what I wanted him to do. I didn’t communicate effectively. Pause for a moment and think about how often undesired results happen because someone didn’t understand our expectations. Think about these questions, too: Have you ever agreed with someone just so they would shut up? Have you ever sent a text message to avoid a verbal conversation? Are you guilty of...

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March2019 webinar

Frontline Fundamentals: Developing a Complete Definition of Leadership

Our industry is under a lot of pressure. There is the ever-increasing pressure to keep the lights on and rates down by performing work efficiently and safely. To do more with less. Adding to the pressure is an aging workforce, high levels of turnover, and changes in workforce demographics – such as generational differences – that make it difficult to recruit and retain qualified employees. What that means is leadership is more challenging and more important than ever. As the industry evolves and changes, so must its leaders. For that reason, leadership will be the focus of our 2019 Frontline...

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jan 2019 webinar

Frontline Fundamentals: Human Performance Implementation

For all of 2018, this column and its associated webinars have focused on human performance (HP). I have thoroughly enjoyed and learned a lot from the guest speakers who participated in the webinars, as well as the readers and webinar participants (you) who have been engaged, shared their experiences, and asked intelligent and challenging questions. In this article, I will wrap up the HP series by reviewing key points, outlining proven strategies about HP implementation and inviting you to our next webinar – scheduled for January 16 – that I am really excited about because we will have a panel...

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nov 2018 webinar

Frontline Fundamentals: HP Principle Five: “Why” Works

Frequently I am asked about the qualifications of a safety professional, what makes a good leader and what it takes to work safely. My answer to each question is the same – you must get really good at asking and understanding “why.” At a minimum, you must ask and understand why rules, procedures and work methods are in place; why performance, behavior and results are occurring; and why past events, incidents and errors happened. If you become really good at asking and understanding “why” in those areas, you will be able to employ human performance (HP) principle five, which states that events...

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Frontline Fundamentals: HP Principle Four: People Influence Each Other

“That night in the city, when you thought I was the Special, and you said I was talented, and important … That was the first time anyone had ever really told me that, and it made me want do everything I could to be the guy that you were talking about.” -Emmet in “The LEGO Movie” When Emmet made this statement to Lord Business in 2014’s “The LEGO Movie,” he nailed human performance (HP) principle four – that people influence each other – and taught viewers of the movie some valuable lessons about how safety should be led. In this installment of “Frontline Fundamentals,” I’m going to present...

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Frontline Fundamentals: HP Principle Three: You Cannot Outperform Your Organization

What happens to a saltwater fish if we put it in fresh water? No matter what that fish does, no matter how well it can swim, no matter how strong it is and no matter how hard it tries, it cannot survive because we put it in the wrong environment. When it comes to human performance, HP principle three states that individual behavior is influenced by organizational processes and values. It implies that incident causation goes deeper than individuals, and that to prevent incidents, organizational (systems) deficiencies must be identified and corrected. The challenge for an organization is to create...

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TWIN Model

Frontline Fundamentals: HP Principle Two: Your Crystal Ball

I have fond memories of G.I. Joe. When I was a kid, I played with the toys and watched the cartoons. I sang along with the theme song and was ready to say “knowing is half the battle” in unison with the hero at the end of each episode, after Cobra had been defeated. The Joes were smart to realize that knowledge is power, and knowledge is especially powerful when it comes to safety, and more specifically, incident prevention. Imagine for a moment what it would be like to know the future – think about how powerful it could make you. How much money could you make if you could predict winning lottery...

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Frontline Fundamentals: HP Principle One: People Screw Up

The first principle of human performance (HP) is that people are fallible and even the best make mistakes, or in simpler terms, people screw up. How error-prone are we? Studies vary, but for our purposes, we will use an average of five mistakes per hour. That’s a lot of mistakes, and a scary thing to think about is we often are not aware of our mistakes. Let’s consider how this relates to safety, and more specifically, how HP Principle One needs to be incorporated into your safety and health management system. Safety programs tend to be based on the concept that if there is a rule and the rule...

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Frontline Fundamentals: Human Performance: What Is It and Why Should We Study It?

Please take a few moments to think about the following questions: Should a vice president tell his employees, “I only want new mistakes”? Is telling a 10-year-old baseball pitcher to throw strikes a good way to teach him how to pitch? When is the last time you provided positive reinforcement for safety behavior, or do you consider safe work a part of the job that shouldn’t be praised? How do your frontline workers feel when you say zero injuries is the goal and nothing else is acceptable? Do most of your post-incident corrective actions involve administrative controls such as retraining and...

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Frontline Fundamentals: Measure What You Want

Imagine this scenario: A worker seriously cuts his nose on the job. The laceration causes part of his nose, at the base of the nostril, to partially separate from his face. The worker glues his nose back together with super glue to prevent going to the doctor and having an OSHA-recordable injury. He then receives two rewards through the company’s safety incentive program. The first is an immediate reward when his supervisor recommends him for safety excellence because he prevented a recordable injury. This is followed by a financial incentive at the end of the year, when his work group is given...

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Frontline Fundamentals: Organizational Culture: What Caves Can Teach Us

If you were in a cave and someone yelled “Watch out for that stalagmite!” would you look up or down? If you said down, you are correct. Both stalagmites and stalactites are formed in caves by mineral deposits from trickling water. Stalactites result from water dripping from the ceiling. They hang down, typically are hollow, have smaller bases and form faster than their counterparts. Stalagmites are built from the ground up when water drips on the cave floor. They have a more solid structure with a larger base that takes more time to form. This imagery is useful when contemplating and discussing...

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Frontline Fundamentals: Responsibility for Safety

You are responsible for your own safety and the safety of others. Most people would say they agree with that statement, but do their actions reflect their agreement? Let’s consider that question in the context of the following incident investigation. The IncidentBob, who works in shipping and receiving, has just cut himself with his pocketknife while attempting to cut a zip-tie off a package. Randy, the shipping and receiving manager, is Bob’s immediate supervisor. Pam is Bob’s co-worker. Ron is the facility’s safety supervisor and is interviewing Bob, Randy and Pam as...

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Frontline Fundamentals: Risk Tolerance

A fundamental premise of working safely is that hazards must be identified and then controlled. Too many incidents occur because hazards are not identified, or worse, they are identified but ignored or tolerated. One of my favorite ways to introduce the concept of risk tolerance is to ask a Frontline class this simple question: “What are some things you might hear someone say before something really bad happens?” It always amazes me – and scares me – how open participants are when I ask this question. Typical responses I have heard include:• “We’ve done this a thousand times and no one has ever...

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Frontline Fundamentals: Controlling Hazards

“Get us a bucket truck, a rock and a hard hat. The rest of the class and I will meet you outside in 10 minutes.” Those were my instructions to a participant who, during a recent Frontline program session, challenged me as I was teaching the hierarchy of controls and explaining why PPE should be considered the last line of defense. The participant was adamant that he had always been trained that PPE is your primary protection and that if you are wearing it, you are protected and can work as you want. The rest of the group validated that was how they understood their training. This put us at...

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