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Training leaders to apply behavioral concepts

2 min read: Nicole Gravina, John Austin and Alison King just published a nice case study in Safety Science 2019 (112). Taking place in a chemical manufacturing plant in the United States that employed over 200 people, 60 leaders participated in a 6 workshop behaviour programme.

Prior to the intervention the average injury rate was 5, afterwards it reduced to 1.2.

What I really like about this case study is that a) they had the opportunity to collect great data over a 10 year time period and (b) they got managers to apply many of the simple behavioural techniques we have been sharing on this site:

  • Identify a result you want to improve

  • Pinpoint the behaviours you are targeting to drive that result

  • Analyse the existing environment to understand the performance challenge

  • Build in new prompts (antecedents) to trigger the behaviour

  • Provide supporting feedback and consequences to reinforce the behaviour

  • For each target create a basic measurement system to objectively evaluate the impact of your intervention (to learn what works and what doesn’t).

60 improvement projects were generated. During the period, refresher training, front line short courses and coaching for senior leaders were also provided. Additionally the consultants advised on implementation of a new corporate health and safety programme. Prior to the intervention the average injury rate was 5, afterwards it reduced to 1.2. The estimated return on investment was 6:1.

In the paper the authors discuss common challenges with BBS programmes including employees perceiving it to be a method to blame the worker, failing to empower employees in getting involved and not sustaining appropriate support from leaders. They discuss the benefits of educating leaders and supervisors about the principles of behaviour and allowing them to shape a system that works in each unique environment of their organisation. I highly recommend getting hold of a copy of the article and reading it, it's packed full of great discussion.

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