Get Custom Virtual Training the Way You Need It!   Learn More

Frontline Fundamentals

David McPeak, CUSP, CET, CHST, CSP, CSSM

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 personal observation is that many organizations and individuals have become more accepting of these words due to increased understanding of leadership and human performance. Still, quite a few of us want nothing to do with emotions and feelings, and that is such a shame. We are missing out on a great number of opportunities for personal and professional growth and success.

Continue reading
  231 Hits
  0 Comments
David McPeak, CUSP, CET, CHST, CSP, CSSM

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 simply don’t care.

  • Should you rinse off the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher?
  • You are traveling to a destination that is a seven-hour drive from your house. Do you make the drive or fly there instead? If you decide to fly, do you check bags or carry everything with you onto the plane? How early should you get to the airport?
  • It’s time for vacation. Beach or mountains? Do you want to relax or head for the thrill rides? Should you rent a hotel room or a house?
  • You are ready to eat dinner. Should it be a hamburger or a salad? Healthy or not? Delivery or carryout?
Continue reading
  481 Hits
  0 Comments
David McPeak, CUSP, CET, CHST, CSP, CSSM

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 to drive behaviors aligned with their desired outcomes, both of which make them more successful.

Below is a brief overview of seven dimensions of motivation based on the work of psychologists Eduard Spranger and Gordon Allport. Knowledge of these dimensions will help you identify your motivators and understand your unique behavioral drivers. After you read the overview, we also will take a look at how you can best apply your motivators – once you’ve established what they are – to achieve greater success. Keep in mind that most people are motivated in part by each of the seven dimensions, but every individual is unique as to how much or how little they are motivated by each one.

Continue reading
  817 Hits
  0 Comments
David McPeak, CUSP, CET, CHST, CSP, CSSM

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 (https://ip-institute.com), will explain the value of the assessment, what is involved in undergoing the assessment, what you will receive after completing the assessment, and how to use the assessment as a personal and professional development tool. It is worth noting that there are many useful leadership, personality and behavioral assessments available that are similar to our DISC assessment. I highly encourage you to research them and take at least one.

Continue reading
  963 Hits
  0 Comments
David McPeak, CUSP, CET, CHST, CSP, CSSM

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 need a group setting with discussions and debates to learn while others want to study individually. I might be interested in a topic that is of no interest to you. Certain people like to take detailed notes while others might be satisfied with slide images or no notes at all. You may have heard terms like “visual learner,” “auditory learner” and “tactile learner.” You should also know that every person has different levels of literacy and information retention skills.

Continue reading
  1135 Hits
  0 Comments
David McPeak, CUSP, CET, CHST, CSP, CSSM

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 they are.

Continue reading
  1574 Hits
  0 Comments
David McPeak, CUSP, CET, CHST, CSP, CSSM

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/ip-articles/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 and threatening them with consequences if they don’t comply.

That bears repeating: It is an incomplete definition of leadership – not an incorrect definition.

Continue reading
  3019 Hits
  0 Comments
David McPeak, CUSP, CET, CHST, CSP, CSSM

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/ip-articles/frontline-fundamentals-developing-a-complete-definition).

Demonstrating C5 Leadership
My son and I got involved with the Pinewood Derby when he was in Cub Scouts. Luckily for me, I have a friend whose son never lost a heat during his tenure as a Cub Scout. So, every year when it was time to make the derby car, I would call my friend and ask for advice on how I could help my son build his car (we all know the scouts do most of the work in Pinewood Derby construction). We would also seek his feedback during the construction process.

Continue reading
  2006 Hits
  0 Comments
David McPeak, CUSP, CET, CHST, CSP, CSSM

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 life. A trainer was about to go into a crane certification preparation course. Right before he walked into the room, he looked at me and said, “None of these guys are going to pass. They’re all too stupid to do the math.” I’ll spare you the details, but I will tell you that quite a few of them passed. What’s important is how this exemplifies the value – or lack thereof – that leaders place on their teams.

Continue reading
  2208 Hits
  0 Comments
David McPeak, CUSP, CET, CHST, CSP, CSSM

Frontline Fundamentals: Stop Telling and Start Communicating

MAY webinar

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 inundation communication, ambush communication, vague-garbage communication or CYA communication? Whoa! It’s not my fault. I sent an email and I have a read receipt.

Speaking of email, your account provides a tremendous amount of insight into communication. When you are the receiver, you have filters that automatically send certain messages into your junk folder because you don’t care about them and don’t have time for them. You manually delete certain messages without reading them simply because you get so many from that sender. When you are the sender, you set levels of importance and decide whether you want read receipts. I can almost guarantee that you have sent an email to the wrong person, and you also have sent an incorrect message because of autocorrect. You probably have a favorites folder for certain people that makes messages important before they are created and sent. Your signature line might include specific instructions and insight into safety that take the form of “Stay safe” or “Take care of each other.” These aren’t bad messages; there just needs to be more.

Continue reading
  1863 Hits
  0 Comments
David McPeak, CUSP, CET, CHST, CSP, CSSM

Frontline Fundamentals: Developing a Complete Definition of Leadership

March2019 webinar

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 Fundamentals columns and webinars. I highly encourage you to read the articles; send us your questions, concerns and experiences; and actively participate in the free webinars. Most importantly, take these opportunities to evaluate and improve yourself as a leader. Remember, leadership is a skill that can be improved.

In the remainder of this article, we are going to discuss two things that keep leaders in our industry from reaching their full potential: fear and an incomplete definition of leadership. We also will define leadership, how it is measured and outcomes produced by successful leaders. Lastly, we will address critical characteristics that effective leaders possess.

Continue reading
  2751 Hits
  0 Comments
David McPeak, CUSP, CET, CHST, CSP, CSSM

Frontline Fundamentals: Human Performance Implementation

jan 2019 webinar

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 of experts gathered to explain HP implementation, address your concerns and answer your questions.

HP Review: Principles and Key Points

Principle One: People are fallible, and even the best make mistakes.
People screw up. We make mistakes, and often we are not aware of them. That is a real problem, especially with regard to safety. Rarely are our errors and their undesired consequences intentional, and most errors have no immediate negative consequences. Because of this, your safety program must acknowledge that people will make mistakes. With that acknowledgement, we can use HP tools to reduce errors and manage controls.

Continue reading
  2571 Hits
  0 Comments
David McPeak, CUSP, CET, CHST, CSP, CSSM

Frontline Fundamentals: HP Principle Five: “Why” Works

nov 2018 webinar

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 can be avoided through an understanding of the reasons why mistakes occur and application of lessons learned from past events or errors. This principle reminds me of an adage most of us have heard before: Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. It also reminds me of a definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I like to summarize HP principle five by saying simply, “‘Why’ works.”

Not long ago, my son was trying to park a golf cart in the cart shed. He got upset because he was in a repeated cycle of turning too early, almost hitting the shed, backing up and trying again. I let him go through that cycle of repeating the same mistake a few times and then calmly said, “Try again, but do something different this time.” He tried again and still turned too early but improved. The next time he turned too late. After a few more tries, he finally got the cart in the shed without hitting anything.

He got the cart in the shed because, without knowing it, he used HP principle five. He shifted from expecting a different outcome with the same behavior to understanding why the situation was occurring and trying something different until he achieved his desired outcome. Now, he applies the lessons he learned and usually parks the cart successfully on his first try.

Continue reading
  2530 Hits
  0 Comments
David McPeak, CUSP, CET, CHST, CSP, CSSM

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 some of those key safety leadership points, along with expected outcomes when HP principle four is properly applied.

Key Safety Leadership Points

  • HP principle four: People achieve high levels of performance based on encouragement and reinforcement given to them by leaders, peers and subordinates.
  • Encourage others: Believe in yourself and others; provide feedback, coach and mentor with the goal of achieving excellence; and have a positive attitude.
  • Reinforce desired behaviors: Don’t assume because behavior is good that people will know it’s good and repeat it; tell them it’s good, why it’s good and how it will benefit them to repeat it.
  • Minimize negative consequences: Punishment will generally get you compliance, but it’s likely that compliance will only occur when someone is watching.
Continue reading
  3140 Hits
  0 Comments
David McPeak, CUSP, CET, CHST, CSP, CSSM

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 an environment in which employees – the organization’s greatest asset – perform at their highest level. You do not want to create an environment in which latent organizational weaknesses set employees up for failure.

Us vs. Them
Imagine a group called Us and a group called Them. Them has a package labeled Profit that needs to get from Point A to Point B on or before a day called Standard. Them creates directions on how to get from Point A to Point B, which are contained in the Map. Them gives the Map to Us and instructs Us to go to Point A, pick up Profit and deliver it to Point B on or before Standard.

Us arrives at Point B two days late with only part of Profit because Us got lost. Them is furious and blames Us for losing part of Profit by not arriving at Point B on Standard. Us blames Them, complaining that the Map was wrong, which caused Us to get lost and be late. Two weeks later, this scenario is repeated, with more of Us losing part of Them’s Profit, so Them sends Middle Man to investigate and determine corrective action.

Continue reading
  3670 Hits
  0 Comments
David McPeak, CUSP, CET, CHST, CSP, CSSM

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 numbers or the winner of a sporting event? Think about all the undesirable outcomes you could avoid – such as getting injured – if you knew the exact date and time they were going to happen.

It’s unlikely you will ever know exactly what the future holds, but you can use human performance (HP) to predict, manage and prevent error-likely situations that could have led to incidents. In other words, the second principle of HP – that error-likely situations are predictable, manageable and preventable – gives you a crystal ball.

Let’s define what is meant by the term “error-likely situations.” These situations occur when error precursors are present and negatively impact decision-making. Error precursors, which are grouped into four categories – task, work, individual and nature – include such things as imprecise communication, departures from routine, distractions, inaccurate risk perception, overconfidence and time pressure (see more in the TWIN Model of Error Precursors sidebar).

Continue reading
  4070 Hits
  0 Comments
David McPeak, CUSP, CET, CHST, CSP, CSSM

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 is good, people will always follow the rule and perform perfectly, which simply is not the case.

While it would be fantastic if no one ever made another mistake – no one tripped and fell in the right-of-way, no one skipped a step in a switching procedure, no one dropped a tool from a bucket, no one forgot to look before backing – that is not realistic, and it is irresponsible to assume mistakes will not happen.

Executives, managers, supervisors and safety professionals, you need to acknowledge that mistakes will happen, and ensure safety by design and defense in depth are being utilized to protect your employees from their mistakes. Utilize these concepts, and the consequences of errors will have little impact on the safety and health of the workforce. If you are responsible for investigating incidents, don’t forget to put yourself in employees’ shoes as you examine motivation, perhaps thinking about what you might have done in a similar situation. People rarely intend to hurt themselves, and part of your job during an incident investigation is to think about employees’ decisions, which likely made sense to them at the time. Be careful about the tendency toward Monday morning quarterbacking that starts with, “Here’s how I would have done that job and that would never happen to me.” If you haven’t already, educate yourself on organizational HP tools such as benchmarking, observations and self-assessments. Being critical of people does not engender appreciation of the value of investigations and cooperation.

Continue reading
  4549 Hits
  0 Comments
David McPeak, CUSP, CET, CHST, CSP, CSSM

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 targeted observations?
  • Imagine one of your employees rear-ends another vehicle and does $100 in damage to an older-model sedan with high mileage. Another employee does the same thing but hits a new luxury SUV and does $10,000 in damage. Are both vehicle collisions investigated? Do both employees receive the same disciplinary action?
  • Would you spank your child because they spilled their milk? Would that keep them from spilling it again?
  • How does it help someone when you say, “Be safe,” and are you doing it for them or yourself?

Here are two additional questions you should carefully consider, as they are the ultimate test of your safety program’s effectiveness. If your answer to either one is yes, there is room for improvement and an opportunity to add human performance (HP) principles into your program.

  • Do the same kinds of incidents continue to occur at your organization?
  • When incidents happen, are you left in disbelief that they happened, about how they happened and about who they happened to?
Continue reading
  6725 Hits
  0 Comments
David McPeak, CUSP, CET, CHST, CSP, CSSM

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 a bonus for not having a recordable injury during the calendar year.

Here’s another scenario to consider: An employee is stopped at an intersection and gets rear-ended by another vehicle hard enough that he is taken to the emergency room and receives medical treatment. Pursuant to 29 CFR 1904, “Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illness,” this is determined to be a new, work-related case that meets the general recording criteria and therefore is a recordable injury. Because he had a recordable injury, this employee is not invited to attend the company’s annual safety awards dinner, where prizes such as televisions and all-expenses-paid vacations are raffled and given away. Note: OSHA prohibits employer retaliation for reporting an injury (see 1904.35 and 1904.36) and will not allow employers that offer financial incentive programs to participate in their Voluntary Protection Programs.

Incentivize Desired Performance
Both scenarios are unfortunate and too common in the workplace. Organizations need to be aware that the absence of injury does not necessarily indicate the presence of safety. With that in mind, they must stop programs that incentivize results and instead focus on performance, which is the combination of behaviors and results. The guiding principle behind any incentive program, coaching or feedback should be to never reward results or punish someone without understanding the behavior driving the results. Get the desired behaviors and the results will take care of themselves.

Continue reading
  5268 Hits
  0 Comments
David McPeak, CUSP, CET, CHST, CSP, CSSM

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 organizational culture. Does your company have a top-down (stalactite) or bottom-up (stalagmite) culture? As you think about your answer, consider how your organization handles the following occurrences.

Occurrence 1: Change
Stalactite: The company is reactive and changes only because they have to due to incidents or regulatory reasons. Management creates or revises programs and policies that are implemented during lecture-style training sessions conducted per organizational hierarchy. Employees have no or very limited opportunities to ask questions or provide feedback about the change.

Stalagmite: The company is proactive and changes because they want to. Leaders anticipate the need for change. Frontline workers are involved in creating or revising programs and policies that are implemented during training sessions, and they encourage questions and feedback from safety leaders, safety advocates and change agents.

Continue reading
  3973 Hits
  0 Comments

KNOWLEDGE, INSIGHT & STRATEGY FOR UTILITY SAFETY & OPS PROFESSIONALS

360 Memorial Drive, Suite 10, Crystal Lake, IL 60014 | 815.459.1796 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
© 2004 - 2020 Incident Prevention. All Rights Reserved.