Positive Influence:

Cutting Edge Ideas on Behavior-Based Safety, Quality and Leadership

Jerry Pounds is President, International Division for QualitySafety Edge (QSE). Jerry has 40 years of consulting and coaching experience in the areas of behavioral analysis and performance improvement.

He has designed and implemented hundreds of strategic performance improvement initiatives in almost every major industry category such as agriculture, aircraft, automotive, insurance, manufacturing, mining, pharmaceuticals, and retail. His clients include Maritz, Ford Motor Company, Wal Mart, Blue Cross-Blue Shield, Volkswagen, Cominco Mining, Miller Brewing Company, Kroger, Vought Aircraft Industries, Agrium Industries, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, United Technologies, and many other Fortune 500 Companies.

Jerry specializes in the development of behavior-based recognition systems and award-winning performance and quality improvement initiatives. He has published in a number of business magazines and management Websites.

Jerry earned his BA in English Literature and Psychology from Georgia State University.

It’s not just the world’s evolving humanism that makes the difference in safety; it’s the evolving recognition that safe companies are profitable companies. The safer you are the more profitable you can be. The world is seeing that having safe employees is good business.
Jerry Pounds

Behavior-Based Safety Measurement

Behavior-Based Safety Measurement

As Behavior-Based Safety processes begin to demonstrate disinterest from both management and frontline employees, the individuals assigned to reenergize the organization’s behavior-based safety process search for causes to direct them toward solutions. Behavior based safety conferences are heavily populated with behavior based safety administrators asking other participants questions like “how do we reenergize our process?”

A common belief is that the cause is employee motivation has waned. The common solution is to “do something to motivate” employees and reactivate their enthusiasm for behavior-based safety observations and activities. Old school motivational strategies still exist in many organizations. Subsequently, the solution would be “we need to exhort everyone with words that motivate renewed employee energy - somehow.”

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Senior Executives Establish the Value of Employee Safety

Senior Executives Establish the Value of Employee Safety

You may doubt the following observation only if you have not, as I have, been in almost every possible business and industry in hundreds of organizations all over the world. My observation is as predictable as the accuracy of a Swiss watch. A safety management system’s injury-prevention performance is directly related to the value (or absence of value) senior management place on safety. An important question addressed here is how should senior management demonstrate their support for safety as a value?

Senior management perceives usually perceives they are demonstrating involvement and support for safety when they are “looking at the organization’s data.” Unfortunately, as impressive as data analysis and presentation technology has become, providing senior managers with a method for reviewing safety data in a few seconds undermines the creation of safety as an organizational value and promotes the misperception that management supports employee safety. 

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The Best Way to Encourage People’s Performance

The Best Way to Encourage People’s Performance

In the early seventies, I worked as a performance improvement consultant in many manufacturing facilities across America. One thing I heard repeatedly from frontline employees was stories about company founders that visited the plant every day. The founder would stop and talk with everyone. Employees would say, “He knew the names of everyone who worked here. He knew the names of employees’ wives and children. He knew the histories of their lives.”

Employees talked about this person fondly; his behavior encouraged them to do their best – not because of production goals or financial encouragements, but because they were performing in the context of friendship and mutual respect. Talking and listening to employees communicates and encourages a bond; the bond is one surrounding the accomplishment of performance objectives important to the success of the company.

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Human Behavior is the Bottom Line in Organizational Change: Part 1

Human Behavior is the Bottom Line in Organizational Change: Part 1

I have always been baffled by the word “deep” when applied to a person. I think it is used to describe someone who says cryptic and abstract things about themselves; they use words and phrases that sound authentic but they are constructed to have an effect. “Deep” people are attempting to differentiate themselves from the herd; they want to sound exotic and mystical. They want the words they use to have multiple meanings that are difficult to pin down precisely.

The phenomenon that drives the confusion around understanding ourselves and others—the mysticism that surrounds romantic descriptions of personalities—is related to the language we use to discuss and describe what ourselves and others do. Complex words are really meant to summarize the observation of multiple human behaviors that are all similar and collectively can describe those similar behaviors. For example, 10 similar behaviors describe a supervisor’s statement, “Jim is unenthusiastic about his work.”

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Behavior-Based Safety Teams: Part 2

Behavior-Based Safety Teams: Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, I pointed out the value of creating Behavior Based Safety teams to eliminate employee disinterest, demotivation, and disengagement in a Behavior Based Safety (BBS) process. A traditional BBS process creates functional silos—senior leaders, supervisors, support staff, steering committees, and observers all have specific tasks within the process. Restricting training and experience to specific groups eliminates the benefits of interdisciplinary, cross-functional development. Cross-training has for many years proven to increase the performance capital of employees. Employees who are not participants in any of these functional silos can feel excluded and disengaged.

Over the last 15 years I have heard BBS facilitators voicing frustration about how BBS at their plant or company has lost steam and employees were becoming disinterested. They didn’t know why, so they searched for the mythical “shot in the arm,” that mysterious something that will regenerate employee enthusiasm and involvement. They never questioned the fundamental structure of the BBS process. Yet, it is obvious to the unbiased that the typical BBS process is not structured to facilitate a team environment. Subsequently, the social dynamics that would lead to high levels of participation and involvement have been overlooked. There is no process for optimizing the social dynamic unless individuals are organized as part of a group that has a purpose they value. Creating teams fulfills the organizational structure that is needed and creating a safe work environment for that team provides the purpose that has value.

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Behavior-Based Safety Teams: Part 1

Behavior-Based Safety Teams: Part 1

The foundation components of Behavior Based Safety (BBS) are well known: Leadership support and involvement, Steering Committee, Observers, Systematic Data collection and Analysis, and Feedback. The methods for organizing and administering these functional components vary broadly. Many companies adhere to a model acquired from one of the well-known consulting providers while others put together a home-grown model which usually excludes one or more of these key components. An example of the latter would be a company that puts together their own system which includes only observations without any special leadership training, an employee based steering committee, or a reliable data system.

There are problems in establishing commitment to the process that occur quite frequently; one problem is the absence of employee participation. Inadequate employee participation derails a great many BBS processes. Causes for low levels of employee participation include the inability of frontline supervisors to deliver recognition, the inability of observers to provide feedback properly, and the absence of senior leadership involvement and support. Without leadership attention and visible involvement, BBS is put on the back burner. It may start out strong, but it will drift as more pressing production problems arise. Under these circumstances, frontline employees find little reason to engage in the process.

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