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I Asked 50 EHS Leaders About Change Management. Their Ideas Were Inspiring

Driving change in organizations is not like it used to be 10 years ago. A lot has changed in the past decade.

We have access to unlimited information, right on our phones. Meanwhile, a new generation is bringing unprecedented collaboration skills and tools to the workforce.

At our annual NXT Conference, I was privileged to conduct a workshop with 50 safety leaders from across North America who have successfully implemented programs within their organization. I was excited to see how others have navigated the new organization landscape and what worked for them.

Instead of presenting my own research to them, I wanted to hear from the group. We had all of these thought-leaders in the room at the same time and it was a golden opportunity to share what has worked and what hasn’t.

We talked about why so many companies struggle to implement change and asked the group, “How do we fix the traditional change management model” and then separated them into three groups to discuss it.

Here are some of the answers they came back with:

1. Get to know your team. Walk in their shoes
2. Find value in all the feedback
3. Make sure safety is seen, felt and heard
4. Support your unnatural leaders
5. Create next-gen leaders
6. Be passionate and lead by example
7. Program vs Identity: Know the difference
8. Start at the top and the bottom
9. Give everyone a voice and listen
10. Get out of your comfort zone
11. Challenge the decision-makers
12. Have purposeful policy – Explain the “why”
13. Build a culture of trust
14. Ensure everything is measurable
15. Know the audience. Resonate with end users

16. Encourage continuous learning
17. Be present & be invested
18. Where is the change taking place? Be there
19. Be flexible with the outcome
20. Be respectful when reviewing the good/ bad
21. Validate that you’re fixing the right problem
22. Move fast, break stuff (I love that one)
23. Get it out quickly, with no fear of failure
24. Eliminate micromanagement
25. Identify who your natural leaders are
26. Consult with others in your organization
27. Fail fast, and adjust
28. Share with sincerity
29. Create clarity of ownership
30. Leverage your people. Remember why you hired them

While the group was sharing, I actually got goosebumps because these ideas are just so good.

We could write many blogs about everything that was discussed, but today I’d just like to unpack 2 of the major themes that were discussed.

Start at the Top and the Bottom
To build a strong safety culture, you need the front-line employees to be engaged, every single day.

A lot of companies want a new safety culture, but they’re trying to get it through a top-down cascading structure. And that doesn’t work in some organizations.

If the front-line worker is actively engaged, they’re completing regular inspections, flagging potential issues, and identifying new opportunities.

They’re the ones executing and driving the change. The employee is no longer working for the manager, the manager is now working for the employee. By creating that shift, the front-line workers are now the ones with the power.

Leaders that want things “a certain way” will struggle with that shift in the workflow. And organizations that aren’t ready or comfortable with that shift will struggle with safety change management. But, companies with a more agile methodology will be successful.

Be Present – Where is the Change Taking Place? Be There
Successful safety leaders are the face of their safety program. They’re living and breathing it. They’re leading by example. They’re out in the field. If they see someone doing something good, they congratulate them and reward them on the spot.

Steve Chaplin is that type of leader at EllisDon. He sits with managers and the C-level of his organization, yet he’s still a boots-on-the-ground guy. He says a major part of his success comes from putting on his boots and walking the job site. It’s important that the front-line sees him out there, wearing PPE. And they know management legitimately cares about their safety.

If you didn’t get a chance to join us this year, don’t worry, preparations are already underway for NXT 2019. You can click here for more information, or contact us at events@ecompliance.com.

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