In the framework of occupational safety and always focusing on the employees who are most exposed to risk conditions or danger as a consequence of their daily functions (for example, a technician, production worker, labourer or however they are called by the organisation), we must rethink the profile we think we need, since this becomes a coordinates system for the human resources area to direct their recruitment strategies.
Accepting this premise, we must analyse if we’re valuing and validating those positions in the right way, assessing whether the knowledge and learning those employees bring are above their behavioural style. I think that learning and skills development is improved and increased by training and work itself, while behaviour is something that the employee brings with him or her and uses it to interact in any organisation or area of work, reinforcing their self-concept, and because of that, it’s harder to control.
In other words, we should identify (it’s not difficult) whether incidents and accidents in our organisation are related to the lack of knowledge or skills of a worker in the process follow-up, as well as in the handling of equipment. Or, if not, whether their daring behavioural style, their excess of socialisation or their lack of respect for structured processes is the main reason why their eyes are not focused on the task.
If your organisation has more cases of the former, the selection, induction and training processes must identify what the psychomotor requirements are and what the minimum required intellectual level is, as well as the previous experience which a technician must have in order to predict the level of skill that matches the requirements of the position. In addition, you need to focus on the style of each internal trainer, of whom, in my experience, we know that they have a good level of knowledge on the production activity, process or equipment to be used, but in many cases their style, methodology and communication makes it difficult to transfer useful knowledge to the learning technician.
But if the main problem is identified as being behavioural, the initial efforts could vanish if the root cause is not attacked or addressed.
Let’s look at this more in depth: First, we have to understand how human behaviour works, how the principles of behaviour originate in different people from similar situations and their behaviour can be completely different. The PD Assessment (Personal Development Analysis) brings a very useful contribution with Marston’s theory.
This explains that the behaviour principle originates from four premises (besides personality) which develop through time in each of us and condition that behaviour. The first is self-concept, the idea the employee has of him or herself and which guides their behaviour to be consistent and reinforce that self-concept. The second element is self-consistency, the tendency to reinforce or reject ideas or concepts according to our self-concept. Then we have perception, the way we order and prioritise the stimuli that rule our behaviour (social, analysis, reflection, reactivity, proactivity, etc.). Finally, there’s semantics, which is about the function and meaning of every word; for example, being risky for some might be exciting and for others might be dangerous.
All these theoretical explanations generate a series of behavioural styles, so we must ask ourselves: what is the behavioural style I must prioritise?
It’s important to take into account that the most consistent behaviours make others which are opposite be inconsistent. For example, a person who is creative and innovative in general won’t stand out for their sticking to rules, protocols and procedures, because these are behaviours which are somehow opposing. So for a certain position, do I need an employee who is looking to innovate in processes, or who is constantly experimenting with new ones? Or, on the contrary, do I need someone who follows procedures, who is not creative (in a good way) and who naturally depends on structures and quickly adapts to linear processes? Do I want to have an employee who contributes to the work environment by being socially active and for whom interaction with their co-workers is crucial? Or, on the contrary, taking into account the dangerous nature of their job, do I need them to be introverted, analytical, task-oriented and whose approach to his job is what stands out instead of the people he does it with?
These are some examples of what an adequate behavioural profile can do (or not do) for your organisation.
It’s also important to understand that there’s no winning style. It can vary depending on many circumstances. For example, location, number of people with whom I need to interact, requested empowerment, capacity to analyse and licence to act, procedures and binding processes, the company’s security policy, shifts and confinement, etc. As we can see, there are a series of variables that can help us understand which profile is the ideal for this employee to quickly adapt to the strategic components of adaptation: position, group, culture.
To sum up, we must map the behavioural profiles of occupational safety positions in their real dimension together with the human resources department in order to avoid distorting the behavioural competencies and assessments that are required by recruitment, training and development, always thinking from a dual approach, quality – safety, in which one without the other is not admissible.