On 17 November 2016 Alastair Dunn, Project Lead, Capital Programmes and Property & Economy and Highways, Cumbria County Council, gave members an insight ways of introducing and using ‘felt’ leadership systems to develop positive workplace safety cultures.
Alastair has recently moved into public sector project management after working for 20 years in quarry management and civil engineering. He explained that the theory of ‘felt’ leadership involves encouraging employees to think about the best way of undertaking their tasks so that they are done efficiently and safely. He said that workers need to have confidence that their managers value their opinions, that they are prepared to listen to constructive suggestions and that they do not adopt a ‘do as say, not as I do’ attitude.
He gave members an insight into ways of introducing and using ‘felt’ leadership systems to develop positive workplace safety cultures through case studies. These demonstrated how the theory of ‘felt’ leadership could be used to improve employee engagement in workplace safety. They included: ways of empowering employees to challenge unsafe acts and situations positively, ensuring that there were fair and just processes in place for incident investigation, and understanding that workplace safety culture cannot be changed over night.
He explained that before embarking on management initiatives to improve safety culture it is important to understand the current individual, team and organisational culture so that a realistic training and management programme can be established. Alistair suggested that if managers can get this right it improves business efficiency as well as safety culture!
A copy of Alistair’s presentation can be found here: Management style and workplace culture