Much like Apollo 13’s urgent and calculated need for a specific reentry trajectory, we need a safe and specific reentry into The New Abnormal, post-pandemic work life.
While there’s a practical set of standards we all must follow, your organization will be making a mistake if it does not lead with the personal set of standards for reentry. Allow your practical standards to be more effective and embraced company wide.
Let's start with looking at a radical change from the behavioral change bias that exists in most conventional safety cultures. Instead of starting with Behavioral Change, think about Peak Performance Before Behavioral Change.
As an Olympian and Team Leader for Expeditions in the Himalayas, I find myself scratching my head when safety professionals lead with behavioral change. I’m not arguing that behavioral change isn’t important. In fact, it’s essential for a vibrant safety culture to institute behavior change initiatives to reach the elusive goal of zero incident. But, what if we can create a world-class safety culture with optimum safe behavior (without starting AT the behaviors themselves)? This is where peak performance can radically improve the adoption rates of safe, post lock-in behaviors.
Continuing to wash your hands, six-foot physical distancing, open spaces over enclosed environments, optimum foot-traffic lanes and even face masks are all practical applications of minimizing the spread of any kind of virus. Yet, peak performance is a function of a deep sense of connection to the outcomes you desire. For an athlete, it’s winning a race or competition. For a musician, it is an epic performance or song. But how does that translate into a peak performance for a fork-lift operator or a technician who spends a third of his or her time in a vehicle? The secret is in The Emotional Buzz.
A number of years ago, a large American Oil Company was struggling with tragic deaths and severe incidents as pipe was being laid in remote parts of Columbia. No matter of ‘Behavior Change Messaging’ was getting the desired effect. Senior executives took a radical approach to messaging from a different angle. According the team leader at the time, “We took our message to the spouses of the construction workers. Essentially, we said to the wives,
‘Hey, do you want your breadwinner to make it home tonight? Let’s remind them how important it is to you that your husband is careful and conscientiously being safe at all times.’
Immediately we saw a reduction in the severity and frequency of recordable incidents. We learned to approach the problem from the heartstrings and not just to the eyes and ears.”
The Emotional Buzz is a catalyst for internal motivation. It is what North is on a compass. When an individual has an Emotional Buzz attached to her or his everyday life, there is a clear attachment to behavior that is aligned with the outcomes sought.
First, establish the Emotional Buzz for your employees and you will have an easier time attaching behavioral change in a world-class safety culture.