What does it mean to be “accountable?” As a safety and accountability motivational speaker, I know that my audiences, virtual or in-person, understand “safety” but I am often asked about the accountability part. We all know about accountability, but how it is measured? It is one of my favorite topics to cover in my talks on safety.
The Accountability Factor
It has been nearly a decade (June 1, 2010), since safety expert David Maxfield wrote an excellent article for EHS Today entitled: “Workplace Safety is the Leading Edge of a Culture of Accountability.” In his article, Maxfield wrote about an automotive company executive whose team had an exceptional safety record. The manager stated:
“I use safety as the leading edge of accountability. We need accountability to achieve the quality, productivity and cost targets we set. But I start with safety. If I can’t achieve accountability around safety, then I can’t achieve accountability around anything.”
Another way of starting the accountability and safety interplay discussion is by using the word “mindset.” It is easy for a manager, department or employee to ask themselves, “Are we accountable?” When we do that, every hand in the room is raised. Of course, if we’re accountable the voices might shout in unison. However, if the incidences of workplace accidents are up, if lost hours or days or even weeks are lost due to injuries, if cost targets are completely missed as the result of workplace injury occurrences, then how accountable have we been?
Did our organization have the mindset to see that the leading edge of accountability is quantifiable? If our organization lacks the vision to understand that each safety violation added one on top of the other will result in dollars and cents impact, then all of our talk on accountability is just that – talk.
Grit Averts Tragedy
Several years ago, Angela Duckworth Ph.D conducted a groundbreaking psychological examination on “grit” as the key to academic and occupational excellence. Her conclusion?
“The strongest predictor of success is grit… passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is essentially about stamina, and how consistently you work in a certain direction over time.”
If the desired goal in the workplace is to be accountable, and if accountability is so closely linked to safety, then we must have the grit, the hourly, grind-it-out mentality to persevere to make that happen.
There are no magic safety wall posters or neat safety slogans that can take the place of daily grit. When grit is combined with a safety mindset and the members of the team all pull together with common vision, then quantifiable improvements can be seen.
A safe workplace, no matter the field of expertise of the organization, will achieve a higher quality in its goods or services; it will achieve greater productivity, whether that productivity is measured in units, efficiency or reduced labor. Clearly, if we have a safe workplace, we will achieve our production cost objectives.
The willingness to get “as gritty as possible,” to make every hour an hour devoted to safety, will define our accountability as an organization – and it will save lives.
Book Scott Burrows, Safety & Accountability Keynote Speaker by contacting him through this website or directly calling his office at: (520) 548-1169