For many occupational health and safety practitioners, choosing to adopt a coaching style is a relatively easy step to take. You may attend a course or, by self-study, learn the basic principles and techniques. Through practice you can become increasingly competent, and by using trial and error plus reflection you may develop your own coaching model – an approach that suits your personal style.
Your safety style
For some practitioners, however compelling the reasons to change may seem and however great their desire, adopting a coaching approach is more complicated. The habits a practitioner develops through experience can be ingrained and difficult to change, and more extensive support is required than simply learning the theory, putting it into practice and then steadily achieving the required coaching competences.
If most of your responses on this questionnaire were ‘Yes’, then you are already a coach, even though perhaps not consciously, and probably without that role description. If most of the responses were ‘No’, is that because your organisation has an outdated internal culture, or because you’ve not personally kept pace as it has evolved to a more supportive style?
The most difficult aspect of the transition to a coaching style is about willingness to let go of the responsibility for solving all the organisation’s safety and health problems. The wish to do this comes from conscientiousness and is laudable – but impossible. One of the biggest single challenges for any coach, whether an executive coach, a life coach or a safety coach, is to set aside ego and to let go of the need to be right.
Be assured that becoming a coach brings new depth and satisfaction to the occupational health and safety practitioner role. Once you have tried it, it is unlikely that you will ever look back.
You can take your first steps by reviewing your coaching style and your everyday interactions with colleagues.
|What type of practitioner are you, and what's your safety style?|
|Would your colleagues say that you...||Yes||Maybe||No|
|encourage and support them?|
|listen carefully and in depth?|
|use frequent summarising to check on their understanding?|
|demonstrate that you understand their situation and appreciate the constraints that influence thier choices?|
|question them and help them explore options and find solutions?|
|help their personal understanding and development?|
|acknowledge and praise their sucesses?|
|are a valueable member of the team?|