Performance Expert or Performance Outcast…?

11th January 2016

As a senior leader, what should you expect from the Health & Safety (H&S) professionals that you engage to support your business?

Regardless of the discipline, when you engage a new employee in any key strategic role you will have clear expectations as to what they need to achieve. You will have spent time and effort in creating a Vision and a Strategy for the subject and then planning a structure to deliver success.

This should be true whether the role is Head of Finance, Marketing Director, General Council or Head of H&S.

Is that what happens in reality?

It may seem obvious but broadly knowing what you want to achieve before making the appointment is essential for success!

In the battle to bridge the gap between an organisation’s stated Beliefs and Values and the day-to-day performance of all employees, what is the impact of the Head of the H&S function? Are they seen as a credible and respected member of the senior management team? Or are they just a necessary cog in running the business?

You may query the relevance of the question, but my own experience suggests that employees are quick to work out what the business has value for and what it does not. The vigour and rigour with which roles are populated sends a clear message on intent. To be frank, too many business performance outcasts – as opposed to performance experts – have often made their way into the H&S department!

I believe the following should be the minimum key expectations of a senior H&S professional:

Historically H&S may have been the reserve of the “policemen” and the “clipboard engineers” but that can and must change. If you view H&S as a genuine business risk that needs managed – in the same way you do for your other key roles, e.g. finance, legal and operations – then you will ensure you have the best people to achieve business success.

Importantly you need to performance manage those people to ensure they repeatedly and robustly challenge the creation and delivery, by the executive group, of a H&S Road Map for success. A good H&S professional will have the courage and tenacity to also performance manage you and challenge if you veer from the Beliefs and Values that you have established.

How will your behaviour ensure you recruit and enable the H&S team, so that they can be regarded as credible and strong contributors to business success?

If you would like to know more about getting the best from your H&S professionals please get in touch.

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