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Incident Prevention Magazine

Bob McCall

How to Build a High-Performing Team


I’m really excited to be writing this article for my utility family. I enjoyed all 33 of my years working in the industry. Now, as a leadership consultant, I have the privilege of using my knowledge, experience and passion to help the utility industry improve. My goal is to provide you with proven tools that will enable you to lead your team to their highest level of performance – where each of your team members will be able to consistently perform at their top potential every day, in every task. It is at that level where zero accidents and zero injuries occur on a consistent basis, and that’s what we want and need in our workplaces. It is no secret that our industry is still among the most hazardous. The penalty for making a mistake can be life-threatening. While I was still working in the industry, it was the love I had for my team that made me want to do all I could to protect them. And that love translated into success throughout my career, during which I created a number of high-performing teams. I want to tell you a little more about that in these pages.

“Treat a person the way that you want them to be and you will make them great” is wisdom that John Maxwell – a best-selling author on the topic of leadership – states in his book “Becoming a Person of Influence: How to Positively Impact the Lives of Others.” College football analyst and retired coach Lou Holtz has said, “If you get people to believe in themselves, they will set higher goals.” I’ve long respected both John and Lou as leaders, so during my working years at utilities, I absorbed what they said and tried putting it into action. As I mentioned earlier, all of my success in my previous industry career was the result of investing and believing in people. In total, I was able to build high-performing teams eight times throughout that career. The process is complex, but it starts with one brief question: Why build a high-performing team? The answer is, because a high-performing team will do everything at an exceptional level. They will meet or exceed all of their goals. They will perform excellent pre-job briefings. They will be highly attentive and participatory. They will have a strong ability to recognize and mitigate hazards. They will follow each job plan with the understanding that if anyone on the team sees something wrong or senses that something is wrong, they can stop the job and ask a question without upsetting other team members. A high-performing team uses the safest work methods, and its members reflect great leadership combined with a culture that supports an error-free workplace.

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Bob McCall

Embracing Change: Think Human Performance

If knowledge of concepts that would prevent all accidents, events, injuries or fatalities caused by a person were available, would you accept that information? Clearly, the answer is you should want to do all you can to prevent bad things from happening to your fellow employees and the company you serve, especially if you hold a leadership position.

I first learned about Human Performance (HP) in 1997 when I was the Mechanical Maintenance Supervisor at the Duane Arnold Energy Center and had the pleasure of serving 30 of the finest mechanics in the business. I cared about each person on my crew and didn’t want bad things to happen to them or their families.

During my tenure at the plant, I had the pleasure of attending a supervisor-development seminar held by the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO). During one of our leadership sessions, we had a presentation on HP. The information fascinated me so much that when the instructor ran out of time for the class, I begged our facilitator to allow the instructor to come back and finish. I was turned on to some information that changed my life. I heard information that gave me the ability to prevent first aid cases, injuries, OSHA recordable events and fatalities caused by people.

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