Coaching for safety 5th Anniversary – Turning the corner

I’ve often thought that my career in health and safety chose me. I remember a day in 1988 when my then boss, called me into in his office to say “Cliff’s retiring, I want you to be the new health and safety adviser.” My first thought was “Cliff’s the health and safety adviser!” and my second thought was “What’s health and safety?” It was the first time I remember hearing the phrase. I’d played a part in helping this company achieve the quality standard BS5750 and I thought I was destined for a career in Quality. To say I was reluctant about a detour into this remote backwater called health and safety, is an understatement. So it was with coaching too. I very nearly didn’t attend the course that turned me on to the importance of coaching skills for OSH practitioners. Had I not attended, I’d have continued thinking of myself as a traditional, systems-led health and safety practitioner. But I did attend, and my career took a very unexpected turn. Having achieved IOSH Approval for my Coaching for safety course and received no bookings, not a single one, for the first four open courses advertised, I realised two things: – i. the health and safety profession was fixated with technical knowledge and didn’t value soft skills at all; and ii. practitioners didn’t understand what coaching is. It seems strange now that I didn’t give it all up there and then, but it didn’t cross my mind. Instead, I saw that it was down to me to promote coaching skills and educate practitioners about how important they are. I...