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Customized communication skills training and a window into what safety culture excellence looks like set Sam Houston Electric on a journey to sustainable safety improvement.
Leveraging tools from Caterpillar’s safety skills programs S.T.A.R.T.™, Speak Up!, Listen Up! and Recognize It!, a Safety Services consultant built and delivered a customized, two-day workshop for executive, middle management, and front-line supervisors at Sam Houston Electric’s Livingston, Texas, training facility.
Caterpillar’s Speak Up! communication skills program lays out a simple, but effective strategy for expressing concern, developing a solution, and following up to make sure the corrective action was implemented. The Listen Up! program presents tips for focusing on the message, not the messenger, so the safety-related feedback doesn’t feel like criticism. Recognize It! reveals a surefire prescription for sustaining improvement: look for opportunities to recognize employees through sincere, genuine and timely gratitude for good performance. When discussions about safety become more positive in nature than negative, so does overall morale and productivity.
“Most of us had never seen the kinds of strategies that were presented or thought of safety in that way, but it seems basic once you learn it,” training and safety inspector, Ronnie Hindsman, said.
Through the scenarios presented in S.T.A.R.T., which stands for Supervisor Training in Accountability and Recognition Techniques, the Sam Houston team learned about the critical role supervisors can play in cultivating safety engagement. When supervisors learn how to foster employee ownership in safety management, and organizations discover that the accountability systems they use to drive productivity and quality can be leveraged just as effectively in building safety excellence, improving safety performance becomes a team effort from which everyone benefits.
“We all needed to learn that watching out for safety isn’t just my job, but part of everybody’s job.” Safety director, Scott Ferguson, said. “The attitude is shifting from ‘He is safety’ to ‘We, all of us, are safety.’”