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Coaching first!

“Safety first!” You have heard it, right? Maybe you even said it?

But isn’t “Safety” just a result? A result of actions, behaviors, measures? And if so, how can it be “first”?

Or is it something we need to do before we do other things? And what is it? And once this is done, we are done with safety for that day? Or is “Safety first” maybe just another platitude?

Maybe instead, we could think of some specific behaviors that we should always consider “first for safety. Something we consider “first”, when we approach someone for feedback on his unsafe practices we just observed? Something we consider “first”, when we react to an accident in our area of responsibility? Something we consider “first”, when we take over charge of human beings’ health and safety as head, lead, manager or supervisor?

Well, how about “coaching”? Coaching has been and still is successfully used in different areas, such as sports, health, personal relationships, business, leadership, etc… always following one main principle: Unlocking the potential of a person or team by raising awareness and generating responsibility. Which basically is the opposite of solving others’ problems and giving advice (or even instructions) to someone to take specific action. A coach supports others to find their own way to identify solutions and next steps towards performance improvement.

So, why not use coaching in safety? Why not make it our “first” choice of style, attitude and behavior?

Do you remember the last time when you did something unsafe or maybe not as safe as it could or should be?

How would you feel if someone would approach you in a non-judgmental way and help you to explore how to do that better next time instead of telling you what are the rules, which probably you already know?

For example, we continually see announcements, safety campaigns and signs indicating the prohibition of using the phone while driving. And mostly every day we see someone violating this rule. Why is that happening? It is not because they do not know the rules. Therefore, repeating the rules one more time will not bring any difference.

A coaching approach can make the difference. With coaching, we ask questions focusing on what is important for the person, raising awareness about why not using the mobile phone while driving could be important for them and others. This self-exploration and increased self-awareness then usually result in an increased responsibility for own actions.

“Safety” and “Coaching” fit perfectly to each other. Only when we believe in the potential of everyone to work safely, we will be able to stop the hopeless fight to overcome the non-existing “people problem”. And it is then, when coaching provides safety pros and make easier that everyone else is being in charge of other people’s lives and everything it needs to unleash this potential.

To make a start - if you wish - we invite you to think on one of your normal days about the following questions:

- How many instructions that you provide during your day are really necessary?

- How many of such instructions could be rephrased as questions to raise some new awareness which is not provided with the instructions?

- What makes it difficult for you to ask a question instead of giving instructions or advice.

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