In this podcast, the first of a series of four, Sara Lodge describes how coaching supports the development of a healthy nuclear safety culture.
As both an activity and a management style, coaching has, over the last 20 years, become a mainstay of organisational development. This is because it:
- increases accountability,
- improves morale,
- increases productivity
- and increases well being, among other advantages, in both coaches and those they coach.
The benefits of coaching to the world of health and safety are also being more widely recognised. Because of this, IOSH, among other bodies, is promoting ‘Coaching for Safety’ programmes to support safety practitioners in their roles.
The nuclear sector has fallen behind in this. While much has been made of the need for a safety culture specific to the needs of the nuclear sector, there seems to be little recognition that development of these traits require a different set of skills to technical. This is something that we’ve noticed in our work in highly regulated sectors. While cultural or behavioural change initiatives may be outlined in detail, the skills required to achieve them aren’t. Therefore, while money may be spent on change programmes, because little money or effort is put into developing the skills essential to their success, the programmes fail, or are not as successful as they could be.
I argue that coaching skills, which incorporate:
- goal- and outcome setting
- active listening
- questioning skills including open, interrogative, exploratory, probing, confirmatory and challenging questioning
- summarising and consensus building
- collaborative problem solving and action learning
- empathy and relationship building
- constructive challenge
- feedback and appraisal
- reflective practice
Nuclear safety culture
Are all vital to building the kind of nuclear safety culture traits which evidence shows are needed to avoid major events, and I’d argue to investigate them.
Listen to hear the first part of my explanation why.