Jan 21, 2020
Can an organization have a split focus towards both safety culture and efficient operations? By focusing on operational precision and the performance of your team, complete organizational safety can be achieved.
Let's use the example of a navy aircraft squadron with its many moving parts. Squadrons succeed by operating from one central location but with a vast number of workers operating far apart from each other at times. To make matters more complicated, the environment workers are operating in constantly changing. Despite these obstacles, naval squadrons thrive safely. Safety leadership, in turn, becomes the by-product of the Navy's operational precision. The process of combining safety with operational efficiency can be broken down into three main components.
The first step is to make sure every team member knows the end goal of every operation. This is often what's referred to as alignment. Knowing where your team is headed should be a top priority. Without, teams can lose their focus and disparate agendas can send the team flying into many different directions at once. To maintain organizational alignment, bring key leaders together and develop the team's strategy together. That way, there is input from your team from the very start.
Secondly, workers in operations should be placed in highly-visible posts throughout the safety department. This type of "rotating organization" can help to identify potential conflicts before they occur. If there is no direct accountability for operations, safety leadership can diminish. However, it is easy to promote safety but then push it aside when operational challenges surface.
Third, there needs to be a top-down, highly engaged leadership approach. This is when it's time for an organization's leadership to target its focus and stay on it. This way, the challenges that arise from day-to-day will not distract the team from its overall goals of refining the team's operational processes.
What is your focus? Is it safety? Operations? Can it be both? Most organizations demand absolute safety across the entire range of operations. That devolves into easy slogans: “Safety First,” “Safety is our Number One Priority,” or “No Safety, Know Pain.” If you shift your collective aimpoint toward precision in your daily operations, not only will you achieve and retain the level of safety we all desire, you will also improve the performance of your team.
A Navy aircraft squadron contains many moving parts. We often operate out of a fixed location, but can just as easily find ourselves working over vast expanses far from each other. Additionally, the requirements to safely operate and maintain aircraft increasingly are technical and the operating environment changes all the time.
Within these challenges, squadrons succeed. We launch and recover aircraft, change large engines, repair electronic equipment, and fix extremely complicated fuel and hydraulic systems. All safely.