Drucker, Culture, and Safety
Culture eats strategy for breakfast.
...that is a pretty famous quote that alot of folks these days have taken credit-for. It seems though that the proper attribution belongs to Peter Drucker (who we all remember fondly from our biz school days).
I could not agree with Mr. Drucker more.
Every workplace has its own distinct culture - a set of norms and ways we do things around here that has evolved over time, and become accepted by both workers and management. Usually, this culture has very little to do with the SOP book.
Cultures develop randomly and tend to resist change unless they are actively managed. Newcomers are quickly educated in the ways to fit in. The dysfunctional elements of culture become obvious only after setbacks such as accidents or near-misses.
A link between workplace culture and safety?
Extensive research on the subject has shown the key drivers of a safety culture to be issues around confidence, reporting, and the work itself. Specifically:
- Employees in highly effective safety cultures tend to have high degrees of confidence in their supervisors, management, and the company itself on issues related to trust and safety.
- On reporting, key drivers are a reprisal-free workplace and a sense of trust that action will be taken should an incident or safety violation be reported.
- Issues related to the work itself include time-to-perform, training, tools, and work group issues.
The Safety Culture Index is compiled from a 41-question survey that will help managers assess just how effective their workplace culture really is at preventing accidents. It helps managers to zero-in on, and implement improvement plans against the specific areas that require attention to reduce culture-spawned safety risks.