Understanding the state of corporate culture, and how leaders are influencing it, is a key component in safety change management, writes Leo Strydom, Managing Member of Behaviour Based Initiatives cc, the South African associate of BST.
High functioning cultures produce better results and sustain these over time. Organisational culture can be developed and improved through the concerted effort of leaders.
The hard part is in measuring what matters, and knowing where to target those efforts. Without an accurate picture of culture characteristics and leadership practices, intervention becomes guesswork.
Employers need a robust, validated diagnostic tool for measuring culture, providing insight into current performance and actionable data to help design effective change strategies.
Culture diagnosis should enable organisations to;
• Measure nine organisational culture factors predictive of business outcomes, including safety. Data of many organisations in different countries and industries is required to correlate survey scores and injury rates.
• Assess factors predictive of job satisfaction, absenteeism, and other performance variables. High performing organisations tend to be good at many things.
• Review multiple demographic variables. Culture survey data should be sorted to provide a diagnostic profile for individual parts of the organisation, including breakdown by job level or family, employment status or shift, and years or service.
• Understand the connection between culture and behaviour. Focus groups and interviews with organisational leaders, managers, and employees should probe perceptions of culture and safety climate. Behavioural examples have to be gathered to illustrate how the organisation’s culture influences the behaviour of individuals and work groups.
• Rank culture against industry. About 1000 sites spanning 190 000 participants should provide validation. Organisational diagnostic results should be measured against a large norms database to establish a percentile comparison.
• Develop data based action plans. Along with data gathered from targeted focus groups, leaders should use culture assessment findings to develop action plans that meaningfully influence cultural factors that work against the safety efforts.
These culture characteristics predict safety outcomes;
Procedural Justice; worker perception of fairness in supervisors’ decision making process.
Leader-member exchange; relationship the employee has with his or her supervisor. In particular, this scale should measure employee level of confidence that supervisors could help him when needed, and vice versa.
Management credibility; employee perception that what management says, is consistent with what management does.
Perceived organisational support; employee perception of the extent that the organisation cares, values and supports him.
Work group relations; employee perception of relationship with colleagues. How do they get along? To what degree do they treat each other with respect, exchange ideas, help one another, and follow through on commitments.
Teamwork; employee perception of teamwork effectiveness.
Safety climate; employee perception of organisational value attached to safety performance improvement.
Upward communication; extent of safety communication flowing upward in the organisation.
Approaching others; perceived employee freedom to discuss safety concerns.
Culture diagnosis tool
The BST Organisational Culture Diagnostic Instrument (OCDI) is a diagnostic tool to measure culture and climate characteristics, predictive of safety performance.
OCDI validation data is drawn from an exhaustive analysis of research literature spanning 25 years, available in 34 languages, validated and correlated across regions and industries.
* Leo Strydom is Managing Member of Behaviour Based Initiatives cc, South African associate of BST.