Most people are drawn to the work they do and the industry they are in for the very best of reasons. I was reminded of this when talking to one of our construction clients. Taking him through a Why Discovery conversation, it struck me that most people, work in their industry for deeply personal reasons.
After several questions, this person told me that they joined the industry to improve other peoples’ lives. Bringing to the world the infrastructure that contributes to society’s development, with bridges, tunnels or buildings. The presence of these physical structures makes the world a better place. He believed a more pleasant experience for everyone.
Whether in energy, mining, manufacturing or whatever sector you can imagine, this cause or belief of contributing to others, Higher Purpose, is real for people, even if not fully visible or expressed.
In many industries, people still get hurt in the course of their work. When this happens, it puts pressure on people who believe in the purpose of the business but recognise the pain caused by these events. Some give up on the noble cause of business and become resigned, while others take up the torch of safety and try to make it the purpose of their life’s work.
When it appears we have hit a plateau in the performance improvements in safety and productivity. It may dawn on us that the only real option is to find a way to move forward that is outside the current paradigm, the very thinking that holds the current circumstances in place.
The best way to do this is to start to unpack some of the stories or assumptions that are deeply entrenched in our collective belief systems. The three most common assumptions are:
To confront these assumptions requires, concerted and committed energy, that is needed to overcome the inevitable drag back to the current ways of thinking.
Fortunately, there is a place to go to tap into a huge amount of energy, a resource that unleashes people to move beyond the current dilemmas. That place is the very reason we joined the industry, our Higher Purpose, to exist and contribute to the world in the way that we do.
When we tap into our Higher Purpose, which exists in every one of us, we release energy that is already there. We turn this positive energy, that engages everyone in creating a new future, to fulfil on the company’s Higher Purpose.
This can happen when we shift the context for safety from being the absence of harm to the presence of people being their best. When this occurs, the people we support can all feel a growing sense of well-being, high engagement and sense of contribution in the work they are doing.
People become the solution to safety as they experience being connected to the company’s purpose. Rather than needing to rigidly control people’s behaviour with rules and procedures, people contribute to safety and performance because they want to and because they have something useful to give.
We call this approach Why-Based Safety. It brings together the latest safety research with cutting-edge ideas in human and organisational development, this generates breakthroughs in both safety and productivity.
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