Vince: Hello everyone! We've got Rob McKee with us for our Safety Leader to Safety Leader conversation.
Rob McKee: Well, it's fun to have these discussions. We've known each other so long and we've had quite a few of these great discussions over time, so.
Vince: Yeah, so let's start with that. Rob you have had an experience of been, basically, allocated the responsibility of one of these very large oil companies, the drilling companies that you've worked with. And it was, you told me a fascinating story about the kinds of things that you had, tried to get everybody's attention, can you dive into that story a little bit?
Rob McKee: Sure, so well right off the bat I had two phases of sorta my involvement in safety. The first was sort of to look at the, manufacturing supply chain globally and then go to global safety, 'cause we saw the results that we did, but, it was very interesting in that transition from one to the other, when I was trying to really enlist, the participation of all the leaders and we had our big leadership meeting. I think there's probably, 200 people, 150, 200 people that came to this meeting, and it was our annual strategic meeting, in there I wanted to address safety and I wanted to kind of demonstrate our commitment to safety as a total leadership team and I think this is really where it starts in order to engage the staff. The leadership team really has to be involved and they have to really buy into the concept. So basically, what I did is they have these, small rubber rings that slide on your finger that said don't text and drive and I used this to sorta make a point and as we entered the meeting I handed these out to every single person in the beginning and asked them in order to, sorta, in order to demonstrate their support for safety around the company if they would just put these, on a finger on their right hand. And sorta the meeting was a one day meeting and about before lunchtime, basically, I stood up and I talked about I talked about safety and what we wanted to do with safety and the concept that zero recordable incidents is achievable. Which is something that people struggle a little bit with, because they consider some of it luck. And I said, "Just to demonstrate," and I was a little nervous about this whole concept but I said, "Just to demonstrate our commitment "as an overall team to the leadership and safety "would you guys raise your right hand and show me, "how many people have that ring on their hand," and I had actually told one other person that was in an equal position to myself, that I was gonna do this and not to--
- So he had his ring on .
- Yeah . And it was him and one or two other people in the room that still had that ring on. Only at lunch time so three, three and a 1/2 hour difference between the two. And it really demonstrated, hey we support the concept of safety but I'm not sure we're totally invested in safety and it was really a bit chilling to me. To see that, we talk a big game but ultimately I'm not really sure we're all completely invested in it. Really, really--
Vince: Is that from a leader stand point? Have you noticed that people kind of have this wait and see? See what corporate does? See what they do? See what they say? See what kind of policies they throw down the line? Is that what you see out in the field?
Rob McKee: Yeah, you see kind of both of them. People see safety, as yet another thing piled on their back. And so if they don't see that the leadership team is gonna continue to follow up in this, and it's truly gonna become a key performance indicator for the organization, you have a tendency to have what I would say is, kind of a big group of drop-outs. Okay, leadership doesn't believe in this concept wholeheartedly, they're not fully invested in this concept wholeheartedly, and therefore I don't necessarily need to be, because it's not gonna be something I'm judged on. So I would probably say, without a doubt, probably the majority of the staff if you don't see that commitment from leadership the majority of the staff really isn't all that committed to it.
Vince: So, you and I are both parents of, our kids are older than teenagers but I distinctly remember those years in the teenage years or being married for... I'm just thinking of my wife as well . It's if it's my idea it's not a great idea, but if it's their idea it's a great idea. So, I mean that's part of the human condition. Radical Safety, when I started Radical Safety I was starting from the neuro science of safety. Which was really, why do people do what they do? So what have you noticed in terms of being able to have people make it their idea rather than the leadership's idea?
Rob McKee: Well, it's funny. I kinda came in with the benefit of having too much to handle as a senior leader. You're handed all this, you've got, I've got supply chain, I've got logistics, I've got sustained engineering, I've got manufacturing floors in seven, eight, nine locations. You can't do it all at that point. You can't just put in a safety policy, a safety process that represents all of those places. It's a little beneficial in learning how to do this because it makes you step back and say how do we approach this problem. And I think very successfully we've backed off allowed the staff actually to define how they wanted us to address the problem independently. We asked them what the problem is, and say okay, you tell me what the problem is. Let's discuss what the solution is in your world, not me telling you from an outside world how to solve your problem. Tell me what the solution is in your world and then we'll help you solve that problem.
Vince: And that was new to them at that time? To have leadership say hey, what do you want? What do you think? What do you think we should do?
Rob McKee: Absolutely, it was very, very new. It was a very, very new concept. In fact, even to today many of the staff members don't know that we planted little acts to make sure that leadership was committed to solving their problem their way. For instance, we set-up areas where people shouldn't walk, or should walk, or should have certain PPE on. We then would, I would have a manager or even myself violate those rules and we'd have somebody planted to say something to them to make sure that they understood in front of everybody that leadership was committed no matter what level a person was violating that rule, our leadership was committed to correcting it. So, yeah.
Vince: Interesting. Was that isolated in one incident or two incidents? Or did you do that frequently in all the locations?
Rob McKee: We did it frequently but it got to be a little bit of a game between the management team and the executive team because I would tip them off I'd tip the executive team off before they would go out and visit a facility and say hey, "I'd really appreciate if you would, "do something that you weren't supposed to do so that, "so somebody can tell you, "how to do it in front of the staff," and so it kind of became a bit of a game. So I would be willing to bet you that we did it, probably 1/2 a dozen more times a month just really to get people that were, in all ranks of the company whether or not it was a janitor or somebody on the production floor. They began to get comfortable saying something, to everybody up to the CEO.
Vince: Now what about the incident rates and the methodology that's in place where they, could get penalized for reporting in small incidences? I don't wanna go through either the paperwork or I don't wanna get penalized for this incidence. So, how do you get around the system getting in the way of lowering incidence rates?
Rob McKee: So from, the way we approach it is, we didn't wanna be a reactive organization. So, granted we had people that reported incidence but typically we put the solution in the hands of the people who were reporting it. So, basically really it was just a write-up in one or two sentences on, what they did to correct the issue. Even if they didn't have the power to correct it in particular they would go, sort of a, whether or not it was to HR, or whoever it was and report the incident and just give a little bit of synapses. But what we attempted to do is, the front end of our meetings and we the industry sorta coined this as a safety moment. What I did was just say let's make this a safety discussion. Somebody in the room tell me about a process problem that we have that creates a bit of a safety incident and let's discuss what the solution might be to this. And so we turned in from something that was reactive to something that was happening, to sort of proactive trying to address the problem so that we're out there, that might cause a safety incident down the road. There was a lot of things like, contractor's coming on to the facility where inevitably they were violating our safety policies, they didn't know anything about them, so we could create something that helped them, understand what the requirement was when they came into the facility rather than scolding them when they were in the facility. And the incident rates, it changed pretty rapidly at that point where we had less things that were reported the more we talked about safety the less we saw safety incidents basically.
People began to think that way. Okay, I see a problem, let me solve this now instead of reacting to it later.
Vince: Now, I remember you saying that you were somewhat surprised at how effective this approach was. Can you talk a bit about the incident rates when you inherited this and how they went down? I remember you being somewhat surprised that it happened so fast. So talk a bit about how this can accelerate creating that they own the solution, they own the problem really, and they own the ability to communicate that up the line. So talk a bit about that.
Rob McKee: Yeah well, like I said there was two phases to this. Not only was I surprised the first time but I got to test it in sort of a new implementation and I was again surprised, you know? I almost doubted the fact that it happened like it did. But it was so gratifying when the fly wheel started turning by itself. So, like I said, we started talking to people in the facility, in these meetings, talking about specific things that we thought or that they thought could have turned into incidents and what we really found was, as began to do that, at the beginning of our meetings they began to do it in the beginning of their meetings 'cause they were proud to bring that up the line back to us and say hey, we had this great discussion. We came up with this, do you support? And generally the answer is, absolutely. They're pretty cost-conscious about it. It wasn't as if we were ever doing anything, that was all that expensive to solve. I mean occasionally you run into something, that was kinda ridiculous but very seldom did that happen. And it really instilled a sense of pride and a sense of ownership in the entire facility. You saw people keeping their areas much cleaner because they wanted to say, "Hey, we identified this problem, "we solved this problem, aren't you proud of us?" And certainly, we felt the same way and it really was, probably six or eight months into the time where we started having these meetings and these discussions and even casually you walk around the floor and you talk to somebody, and say, "Hey, what is your biggest concern?" and they started sorta gushing with creativity on how to solve a lot of these problems and I can't tell you how satisfying it is as a leader who is sorta tempted to implement a concept--
When you sorta go in vacation for two weeks and then come back and there's a huge improvement...
Vince: Without you there .
Rob McKee: What the heck happened? You kinda outran me, you know.
Vince: Well yeah really you take ego out of it, and things can really change.
Vince: I worked with a company very, very large retailer that was suffering in a big way. I won't say their name, but it rhymes with "beers." I remember working with them, and the leadership was off on one side and they weren't communicating to the frontline and I was brought in... I went well, the problem is you! And they didn't bring me back 'cause they didn't wanna hear that! They wanted to hear that they were, doing all and saying all the right things and then.
So talk a bit about the value of an outside perspective from a leaders standpoint coupling that with being able to have that insight perspective from, let's call it, from the frontline up. As a leader how do you strike that balance between that outside perspective? I mean I've worked with you in the past with various companies and Radical Safety being able to provide those outside perspectives isn't the only way but what do you see the value of the outside perspective and that inside perspective coupled together?
Rob McKee: Vince that's a really interesting question mostly because you're still putting the emphasis on the inside and outside. I think what really good leaders do is kinda of, go back to that fundamental that, The more people that are in the room, the smarter we are as a collective group, then we are as a small leadership team and so, if you can sorta jettison the thought process that oh, this is an outsider. And start thinking I can learn something from everybody. Whether or not it's a young kid, or whether or not it's a 30 year old seasoned veteran in the industry. I can learn something from everybody, and sometimes it's just simply the fresh idea that sorta changes your perspective a little bit. It's one of those things that, sometimes things click in the thought process. I related back, if you can think it, obviously I have a an athlete, top level athlete as a daughter. You were a top level athlete. You get in this, you can get I this rut of having student teacher and you're trying to solve the problem and solve the problem and you're focused on this so much to the point where you're, you've eliminating things that probably shouldn't have been eliminated and somebody comes in from the outside and you're always a little bit defensive about it. Going I've worked on this, you can't tell me, you're changing everything, give me sorta give me a break but in actual fact it tweaks one little thought and that little thought then gets integrated in what you're doing and you discuss it with your coach and okay, I understand this a little differently then I understood it before. It's maybe the same problem but it's a slightly different approach. As I coach my daughter for instance, sometimes, I would probably say, the majority of the time . I say something one way that makes complete sense to me. She interprets it completely different and she thinks, that's ridiculous I've been working on this forever but somebody else comes in, like her coach who we're careful about her coaches because I tend to have people who discuss things with her and don't tell her things, because just anybody else, you have this sense of private and it offends your space, and he says something, and she says, "Oh I understand that, I get that. "I really like that concept "I really wanna integrate that in," and I kind of throw my hands up and I'm going, I've been telling you this for three years. Why didn't you listen to me when I said it. And so a different perspective, no matter whether that's outside or inside can really be refreshing and help you think of that something a different way I think your concept of Radical Safety really helps bring that bit of perspective. You'll listen to it with sort of unrestricted ears and then you have the ability to give some feedback on that side. I think it's a really, really good concept.
Vince: Great, great. Well you know it's funny, I never intended this, to be the case but I find myself facilitating conversations when I go in as well. Not only can I take this olympic background and sure I've got some tools and techniques but sometimes it's planning the right questions and having them verbalize it, and if I hear you properly you're saying this, and then the leadership goes, oh, I didn't know that's what you were talking about. So, I mean again we come back to parenting, or whatever the communication, and it's really essential and that's the reason you agreed to come on this call and the reason we're doing this together is to communicate there are ways to reduce incident rates. If I could summarize, it's really being able to reach out and have them communicate the kind of solutions, that they're a part of the solution rather than being told and then calling people out that the ring on the finger, the safety ring having What, 197 people in the room go, wait I didn't think I had to be that committed. Commitment doesn't mean wait and see .
Rob McKee: Yeah and just to make sure you understand the magnitude of this. When I took over the manufacturing piece, the last company I was with, we were responsible for just over 50% maybe somewhere right around 60%, of the total recordable incidents in the entire company. Manufacturing space, heavy equipment, we had all sorts of carpal tunnel syndrome, ergonomic stuff that was going on. We were responsible for 50% of their recordable incidents what really, what really amazed me, when I started really working inside the organization itself, within 12 months we eliminated 100% of their recordable injuries, recordable incidents in manufacturing and reduced the total recordable incident rate within the company over 50% by ourselves, and then--
Vince: In 12 months?
Rob McKee: Over a 12 month period and then, I was passionate about the subject. I really enjoyed what we were doing and making a big difference and the CEO was nice enough to turn around and say hey, you seem to have the answers so why don't you take this piece and being excited about it. Very, I think very few people were all that excited about safety at times. It is this thing that feels like a burden but when you can make a profound change and profound difference in the company, you do gain, gain some excitement about it, and joining forces with the director of safety in a company, who already had a really cool plan. I mean he had a great educational plan to sort of identify all of these different areas and educate everybody in all the different areas, so they had the ability to dig into more than they just would in a general manufacturing facility and everything from driving, distracted driving to chemicals and all this kind of stuff. So we implemented the same concept around his 10 defined areas of safety Within the company. Over the next, it was probably 18 months we were reaching out to over 2,000 people, So, over 18 months we got it, continued down that road and we got it to only one recordable incident in the company after my time being with them, they ended up getting to zero. So it's even more satisfying to know they went on, it was me unplugging and the organization knew how to do this. So they were excited about it, and went to eliminate 100% of the recordable injuries over a 12 month period, it was really--
Vince: Well you know, it's fascinating that the our, the hidden meaning of this interview is for to safety leaders do whatever they can to make your job irrelevant .
Rob McKee: Absolutely.
Vince: The company is in business to be able to provide value and get a return on that investment of time and resources. And the more safety can play into that, the more the neurosciences safety, behavioral change shifting to performance change, changes the game. So, Rob, is there anything you want to close with? Anything we haven't covered yet or?
Rob McKee: Just to make a point. Safety is always kind of a slog, it feels like something nobody wants, on top of their normal job but the way we approached it, that it is part of our normal job, we just don't really focus on it, and it can be fun if you're seeing results and you're seeing people who normally don't have input into the system. They do a job they do everyday, over and over again. They don't ask for anything except for the things they need to do their job. Finally those people are given a voice and you can use that to give people a voice who never get a voice and they can see the difference they made beyond their chair, into the entire facility, or into the entire company if when they're given a voice. So don't underestimate how much fun it can be to watch someone take pride and say this is something I see in my facility that might be in all the facilities. The organization as a whole goes out and solves that problem and you can go and say, you know what, I know you believe that all you do here, is sit in that $18 an hour job. Assembling something all day, but take a look what you've just done. You've just affected the entire company and everybody across the company has had a positive effect because of an idea that you had and I think that's something most people don't think of. So, I think you'll look at safety I think you're very right in your terminology. It's a radical change that isn't difficult. Don't take radical as meaning difficult, it's not. It's just it's a complete change in paradigm of how you approach it. Is the way I see it, so.
Vince: Yeah, it was... We named the company after because we were thinking there's a lot of conventional wisdom, conventional behavior going on and I just went to the dictionary, I looked up the antonym to conventional. It was radical! I went, huh that's it! That's it. When one simple word, you can have people just, It's an inflection point in how they think and then the incident rates go down. I mean you can shock yourself, how quickly they go down, but how much you can actually reduce the incident rates to zero and then have the company doing what it's supposed to be doing and enjoying where you work as well so.
Rob, you're a prince of a man to be able to take time out of your day to jump on this call with us, and we're gonna broadcast this, to all the safety leaders we're in contact with and all our clients. We wish you the very best and good luck with your daughter and her golfing, I know that she's a heck of a golfer.
Rob McKee: Thank you very much, I appreciate that, and if you ever need my help with anything else or any, you wanna get together with me, and somebody who has questions about how to do this, I'm absolutely more than happy to help. I'd love to see this thought process used much more in the industry anyway.
Vince: All right, I'm putting you on speed dial . All right Rob, thanks again.
Rob McKee: No problem, thank you.
Vince: Take care.
Rob McKee: And you too.