In 2010 the International Labour organisation reported that while mining employs 1% of the global labour force, the industry generates 8% of fatal accidents at work. This is a rather startling statistic and is certainly an issue mining companies take very seriously indeed. Of course, my immediate reaction is one to minimise health risk in the workplace and prioritise this above all else. Though, what does this mean for the profit/performance agenda of the board and shareholders? Or for employees whom have “always done things this way” and push back when the smell of change is on the horizon?
Where do we start when we want to gain alignment to implement sustained change? – particularly if it is going to have real impact in saving human life!
When we worked with Anglo American, a mining company in South Africa, they had a vision ‘Zero Harm’ as part of their “One Safe Anglo” programme. They made commitments on paper, and were met by a wide variety of challenges. One key obstacle was how to engage and enrol people of very different backgrounds, agendas and emotions and help them to put aside their preconceptions and work together in a blame free and constructive manner.
Together we developed and implemented a multiphase programme involving site visits in South Africa and an international study tour of industrial locations having a range of safety performance records. We used Theory U as the basis for much of the learning journey, which included a series of reviews and workshops to capture ideas and proposals and integrate these into the wider ‘One Safe Anglo’ program.
What developed was a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose between participants, which transcended previous vested interests, and equipped miners with key skills (sensing, enquiring and reflection) to continue to practice the ‘deep insight’ necessary to generate objective and innovative solutions while on the job.
And realistically, the entire process started with a set of questions:
- How do we currently work with competing agendas?
- When was the last time we truly gained inter- and/or intra-team alignment? (and what did that look like?)
- How do we develop leaders who drive organisational alignment?
Many of us don’t work with the same occupational health and safety risks as a mining site, yet we all work to engage and enrol people from a great variety of backgrounds with an even greater number of agendas and preconceptions about the company or colleagues.
Deepening our understanding of how true alignment (or lack of it) currently affects culture and performance is always the first step to identifying what agendas/bias/conflicts exist.
Only then can we effectively drive unifying change.
Mark is a renowned expert in sustainability and sought after facilitator of senior executive teams and multi-stakeholder events. Click here to find out more about Mark and contact him for further information about his experience.
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