How do you build a safety scorecard with measured accountability? Can you do it?
A strategic system to evaluate people will drive improvement and instill accountability. A scorecard gives you a method to integrate urgency into an individual’s daily expectations. What does it mean to “hold” someone accountable for safety; and to “keep score” on their performance? This is often a deficient part of safety programs because leaders wait until something bad happens before they feel the need to hold anyone accountable. A negative event is too late to hold someone accountable for safety. The answer to accountability is simple: set standards for people, measure the results, and either recognize or discipline based on the results. Do all this routinely and consistently. For example, if audits are required, track audit participation and measure the quality of audits. If your organization values sustained corrective action, track the number of repeat observations on each audit. If your program requires supervisors to perform preshift safety meetings, track the quality and participation in the process. The records become a performance measurement. The process of accountability provides for a perfect opportunity to instill expectations, urgency, and discipline into your program. If your organization does not keep detailed individual scores for safety, you will experience an adjustment period when you introduce the idea. I learned this lesson the hard way. At a previous employer, I developed a scorecard that tracked management participation in four categories. I tracked audit participation, safety team support, safety meeting completion, and safety procedure reviews. Each supervisor and manager had responsibilities and I documented their performance. I gave them a score for each item and I rolled up the scores into a final score. Then, I stack-ranked each leader from the best to the worst. I highlighted the top ten percent in green and the bottom ten percent in red.
After the report was complete, I distributed the report to the leadership team. The process sounds reasonable…right? The score showed who followed through with their responsibilities and who did not. That is the type of accountability you need because it tells you who deserves a reward and who needs urgent “motivation,” right? After all, safety is a condition of employment. You have to know the score and the score has to mean something.
My plant manager was in the red on our safety scorecard! The system was awesome because it measured management commitment with visible tools that have been proven over time to drive safety success. The backlash was predictable. When my plant manager reviewed the results, he came to my office in a bad mood. He was not happy and my safety scorecard had a short lifespan. Somehow, I managed to keep my job. Where did I go wrong? My mistake was I did not communicate the purpose and intent of the scorecard well, and I embarrassed important people. In reality, my plant manager always supported safety and I enjoyed working for him. But, I failed to properly explain the rules of the game. The moral of the story is that you have to develop your scorecards as a team to gain the greatest value. The goal, of course, is for leaders to embrace measurement techniques and play to win. The prize is a quality of life for your employees.
The VPPPA Leader Magazine, Fall 2014, Walk the Talk
(Reference: Principle to Practice by David G. Lynn, CSP)