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...

Coaching for safety 5th Anniversary – In the beginning

The 9th January 2018 marked the 5th Anniversary of Coaching for safety achieving IOSH Approval. It’s been a most unexpected journey and whilst it’s true to say that it never occurred to me not to do it, looking back, I do wonder sometimes why it didn’t. This is the perfect opportunity then I think, to stop, draw breath and reflect. In 2012 I was invited to attend a 2-day course entitled High Performance Coaching. I nearly didn’t go. For a long time I’d described myself as having a coaching style. My CV talked about my coaching style and I talked about my coaching style at interviews. I thought I knew something about coaching and I didn’t think there was much I could learn. Midway through the first morning, the penny dropped and I realised that what I thought was coaching, isn’t coaching and actually, ‘real’ coaching is profoundly more important for me as a career health and safety professional than I’d ever given coaching credit for. It quite simply ‘blew my mind’. I couldn’t believe I’d never been told about the importance of coaching before. At the end of that first day as others rushed off to the bar, I headed to my hotel room to look for my next coaching course. I wanted something more closely associated with safety than the course I was on because this was all about me, and me becoming a better OSH practitioner. I couldn’t find anything and so I booked on the Practitioner Diploma course with the Academy of Executive Coaching (AoEC) in London and I became qualified as an Executive Coach....

Coaching for safety 2017

What a wonderful way to wrap up 2017 this Coaching for safety course in Aberdeen was last week. It’s great to watch people come together to learn and develop and to see them enjoying themselves supporting each other. And Craig, you didn’t just embrace your coaching session sir, you smashed it! You were coaching – no ifs, buts or maybes about it. Over 150 delegates have attended IOSH Approved Coaching for safety courses in 2017, the 5th consecutive year in which the number has increased. We’ve delivered courses to companies across a wide range of sectors including university education, waste management, oil and gas, utilities, steel distribution and office services to name a few and we’ve met people from many more sectors through our open courses. Every course is different but what’s common to them all is a general sense of positivity and a determination that these skills, if developed, can be the key to a better health and safety culture. Paul Turnbull said in Aberdeen last week that he didn’t really know what to expect and this is true of many of those who attend. Many think that coaching must have something to do with training but discover that its so much more than that. A trainer can only train on subjects about which they have some knowledge, but coaches can coach when they have no relevant knowledge. Imagine that. Imagine having skills that enable you to support your colleagues/clients in situations where you have no knowledge or experience to bring to the table. Paul confessed to being highly-sceptical but by the end of the course that’s exactly what he was doing. And...

What’s the problem that Coaching for safety solves?

Being coaches, relentlessly positive and solutions-focussed, we believe in Saint Jerome’s adage “Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ‘Til your good is better and your better is best.” That’s how we see IOSH Approved Coaching for safety, as a development opportunity, designed to facilitate a transformation from good, to better and best. We understand however, that it’s usual these days to ask what problem it is that a product or service has been designed to solve. So, whilst things are undoubtedly improving, what would you say is the traditional stereotype of a health and safety practitioner? Would you say that they are thought to be technically strong but often inflexible, driven by policies, standards and procedures with little mind for the realities of working situations? That they are often unable to engage with people in a way that encourages engagement and the contribution of their colleagues? Would you say that ultimately, the  traditional stereotype is of a professional that is unable to provide the support that organisations need, one that has to adapt for a more modern reality? Do the above statements describe members of your health and safety team? Do they describe you? If yes, do you know what you’re going to do to address this and when? These are the problems that IOSH Approved Coaching for safety has been designed to solve. By providing skills to complement the technical knowledge that practitioners have, it’s a course to help them develop a collaborative style with a view to better, more productive relationships and more effective conversations. IOSH Approved Coaching for safety has been gradually maturing over several years and steadily developing an excellent reputation as a must-attend training programme that is like no other...

Don’t you wish health and safety could be more person-centred?

What is your vision for the culture at your organisation? Have you defined it? Imagine you had magical powers and just by clicking your fingers, you could give yourself the culture you aspire to have. How would you know you had it? When you arrived for work tomorrow, what would you see? Would you see people looking out for each other and helping each other make safe choices? Would they be trying to understand each other’s situations and valuing each other’s contributions? Would you see them collaborating to find solutions that they can all buy into and own and manage going forward? Would people be focussing on solutions rather than the reasons things aren’t ideal? Would they be putting good ideas and intentions into action because at the end of the day, it’s the things that get done that really count isn’t it? Having defined your vision and assuming of course that you don’t really have magical powers, how will you go about bringing it to life? Is the path that you’re on going to get you there? Are there examples, however small, of the kind of culture you want that have already taken root and with proper care, just might flourish? The culture described above is a coaching culture. At it’s core is a firm belief that people are resourceful and that developing people is a fundamental part of safeguarding their health and safety. Read more about person-centred health and safety...

What makes a Health and Safety Mercenary?

It’s not that we fell out exactly but there was an obvious tension in the air and whilst it wasn’t said, it was clear we were just going to have to leave it and agree to disagree. John is an OSH Practitioner and friend (still, I hope) of mine and we’d been discussing how far a practitioner should go in helping operational people to complete their risk assessments. John’s view was that he’d provided training and had worked through a number of assessments with the team and he’d satisfied himself that they understood the process, so now it was really up to them to allocate the time and get the assessments done. The discussion was about risk assessments but it really could have been about countless other things. I just felt that a practitioner should provide more and better support than that. I was reminded of Mike Buttolph’s seminal articles on Styles of Safety Practice in the SHP journal in March and April 1999. Mike outlined several safety stereotypes (the Monk, the Mercenary and the Missionary) in order to explain the perceived low status of safety professionals at the time and to advocate a coaching and mentoring approach. Mercenaries see safety much like a commodity, the possession of which makes them important to an organisation. They believe that at the end of the day, only they have the required knowledge and skills to be able to do what needs to be done to the required standard. Whilst they say that managers and supervisors should own health and safety, their tendency is to do the things that really ought to be done by others because it’s in...

Coaching for safety, Knutsford, Cheshire

Communication is a key component of IOSH Blueprint, the new competency framework for OSH professionals. With references to questioning skills, active listening techniques, body language, collaboration and the importance of effective relationships, a casual observer might think that Coaching for safety was written in response to IOSH Blueprint – it wasn’t. Over several years, IOSH Approved Coaching for safety has been gradually maturing and steadily developing  an excellent reputation as a must-attend training programme that is like no other. Designed to provide vitally important skills to complement the knowledge OSH Practitioners acquire through NEBOSH and other similar courses, Coaching for safety helps practitioners be more collaborative. Collaboration is essential to improving OSH culture, leading to better solutions to problems, better management buy-in and better engagement all round. We believe it’s the nearest thing to a silver bullet there is. How are your communication skills? How collaborative are the members of your team? IOSH Approved Coaching for safety is unlike any other course – don’t miss out. When                 Wednesday 13th and Thursday 14th September 2017 Where                Cottons Hotel and Spa, Manchester Road, Knutsford, Cheshire WA16 0SU Price                   £525 + VAT Early-bird         £425 + VAT, available until 31st July 2017 Download a booking form here or call Michael on 01706 217122 or 0792 191...

This is what happens during an IOSH Approved Coaching for safety course

If you attend an IOSH Approved Coaching for safety course, you will spend two days learning and practicing the skills and techniques that under-pin a collaborative approach. Coaches exist to be collaborative and we believe the very best OSH Practitioners are collaborative too. If you attend an IOSH Approved Coaching for safety course, you will learn that it’s your curiosity that drives collaboration and that most safety people’s natural inclination is to focus their curiosity in a direction that isn’t at all helpful to the coaching exercise. We’ll help you focus your curiosity in a more helpful direction. If you attend an IOSH Approved Coaching for safety course, you will learn what the ‘active’ in active listening really means. You will learn about the three levels of listening and how gestures, expressions and metaphors can be the key to real insights and breakthroughs. If you attend an IOSH Approved Coaching for safety course, you’ll learn simple techniques for being truly solutions-focused. Whilst many OSH Practitioners would like to think they’re solutions-focused, they in fact have habits that take them backwards and deeper in to problems rather than forward towards a solution. If you attend an IOSH Approved Coaching for safety course, you will receive the support of your fellow delegates who will collaborate with you to find a way forward with real-life issues you’ve brought to the programme – there is absolutely no role-play. We designed IOSH Approved Coaching for safety to help you develop these skills. These skills complement any technical knowledge you’ve acquired on NEBOSH or other similar courses and they’re entirely consistent with the Engagement and Influence category of IOSH Blueprint,...

IOSH publication on coaching for safety goes live

As red letter days go, today Wednesday 29th March 2017 is red indeed. For it is today that the long awaited IOSH publication ‘Coaching for safety – an introductory guide’ goes live in the Books and Resources section of the IOSH website. Written by yours truly in collaboration with renowned Coach and author Jenny Rogers, the guide aims to provide practitioners with a basic understanding of the soft skill of coaching. Today marks a significant milestone for us. Our Coaching for safety course first came to market in 2013 and we quickly learned two important lessons. Firstly, how little the safety profession in the UK valued soft skills relative to technical knowledge and understanding. And secondly, we learned how widely misunderstood ‘coaching’ is. That the professional body has endorsed the use of coaching skills to enable practitioners to engage with others to improve occupational safety and health outcomes is, understandably, music to our ears. We couldn’t have put it better than Kate Field, Head of Information and Intelligence at IOSH, who says “There is an increasing acceptance within the occupational safety and health profession that a knowledge of the law and compliance standards is not enough. To succeed and be effective, an occupational safety and health professional needs to engage and influence at all levels within a business. The role is increasingly collaborative, supportive, challenging and helpful – the characteristics of a coach. This guide provides a first step on that journey.” Download a copy of ‘Coaching for safety – an introductory guide’...

Download a FREE Coaching for safety taster

In 2016, the number of delegates attending IOSH Approved Coaching for safety classes increased by over 70%. In 2017, by the second week of March, we’d already trained half the total number of delegates that attended in the whole of last year. Delegates from Oil and Gas, Rail, Waste Management, University Education, Aviation, Workplace Services, Water Regulation and Steel Distribution have attended already this year, as have a number of private safety consultants, but what is driving this groundswell in interest and what is it that delegates and organisations value so highly? Certainly, IOSH Blueprint is a factor. IOSH Blueprint is the new competency framework for OSH Practitioners. Developed by IOSH and a cross-sector group of industry experts, it defines ‘what good looks like’ in OSH competence. The Engagement and Influence category of the framework, includes references to questioning, active listening, collaboration, being aware of body language and non-verbal communication. These are just some of the attributes of a good coach and of course they feature strongly on the IOSH Approved Coaching for safety programme. To find out more, download our FREE Coaching for safety taster here. Whether safety is only a part of your role or you’re a full-time safety professional, IOSH Approved Coaching for safety has been designed to provide you with valuable skills. It’s unlike any other course – don’t miss out. When                Wednesday 17th and Thursday 18th May 2017 Where              Holiday Inn Express, Loake Close, Grange Park, Northampton NN4 5EZ Price                 £525 + VAT Book today by calling Michael on 01706 217122 or 07921914099 or email...