Safety coaching and mentoring – they may not be what you think they are

I’m not the only safety practitioner to have characterised himself as a coach and mentor – plenty do.

For me, having to develop and support a team of safety competent people – people positioned around an organisation each with a high degree of local process-knowledge and influence – in order that they might coordinate and manage safety initiatives on my behalf, was the reason I began to regard what I did as a practitioner, as ‘coaching’.

Having recruited several practitioners, and therefore having interviewed dozens, I know that this is a common interpretation of what coaching is amongst safety people – being able to do something well and instructing others in it and demonstrating to them how it’s done – much as a swimming instructor does at the local pool.

But as important as these skills are, they’re not coaching skills.

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