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Managing change and leadership

In today’s fast paced environment the ability to manage change is increasingly becoming more and more the norm. However, it can be still quite difficult in practice to guarantee successful changes. Change is necessary, at the very least, if businesses want to hold onto their share of the marketplace. Change management skills are a necessary skill of health and safety management. Imagination and human talent can be a more sought after commodity than capital resources. In a rapidly changing environment health and safety personnel are required to work under pressure as there will most always be time, cost and resource constraints.

Leadership skills will range from the practical management of tasks, boundaries and roles to fine social networking and relationship skills. Being able to manage emotionally challenging feelings (for example defensiveness, disagreements, anxiety) from ones counterparts, to produce a happy and progressive workplace will be one of the highest attributes of any leader today. These soft skills are necessary for any business, and health and safety in particular, due to resource and project changes that can occur on a daily basis. Managers and supervisors need to be emotionally intelligent as they will need to manage any negativity or conflict from other personnel and from any outside influences.

Health and safety personnel may need to manage risk in ever changing environments and be able to demonstrate their authority in communicating the requirements of the law and best practice. They may also need to set out strategy, policy and targets and monitor progress. They will need to engage all staff in health and safety matters within the day to day operations; this is vital for the work or project to progress successfully. They must empower employees to develop their skills further and encourage educational standards.

Building and keeping a safety culture can be complex. The leadership within the organisation must be committed to safety, there must be employee involvement and motivation, the employee’s perception and values of safety within the workplace must be positive, supervisor priorities must be positive and policies/procedures must have the necessary health and safety best practice included in them. A strong health and safety culture will have the information, have reporting procedures in place and promote learning and flexibility in line with a demanding work environment. A strong health and safety culture within a business can be led by one who has credibility, vision, accountability, is communicative, and takes responsibility for safety critical activities and gives just and constructive feedback to encourage safe behaviour. The business and culture must be sustainable for the future generations.

Sources     osha.europa.eu     ogp.org.uk

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