Journey Program Case Study: Company W

The case of a 'Policeman' who became 'President'.

Context

An open cut mine site of approximately 400 employees was suffering from a poor safety performance. The General Manager Mining said it was keeping him awake at night.

Over one month several items of Surface Mining Equipment were involved in three high potential incidents (i.e. potential fatality). Other incidents, some serious occurred regularly. The severity rate of injuries was extreme, and cases included several long term lower back pain injuries and two mental stress cases.

Identification

On arrival at site, the Mine Manager who was due to introduce Dr Cattani and a Journey Program coach, changed the agenda as there had been a serious incident. A piece of Surface Mining Equipment had slipped over the edge of a mine waste dump, and the driver was being rescued. The Mine Manager requested that anyone with relevant emergency management or investigation experience to assist.

Over the next two days an operational and cultural gap analysis of the mine site was conducted as part of the incident investigation.

Evaluation

It appeared the site was being run informally by an ‘old school’ Mine Superintendent, who was quite clearly a bully. He worked too many hours, routinely shouted and swore directions at people whether they were doing the right thing or not. During meetings he often created anxiety and tension. He was disliked by almost everyone, and people generally tried to avoid him. On introduction to his approach was “leave us alone, we know how to run this site”.

However, it appeared he did not understand the impact of his behaviour and actions on people around him. Also, he had not been trained in leadership or other skills. In response to his style, the organisational culture of the site was “pathological” (i.e. a blame culture, devoid of leadership).

The incident investigation highlighted a series of issues which needed resolution; in particular the site safety management system was complex, bureaucratic and compliance based, which did not manage injury risk.

Risk Treatment

The Journey Program for Supervisors was delivered to the 50 people in the site leadership team. A program over 10 weeks was scheduled for groups of 4 people at a time, in peer groups, for 1.5 hour informal workshops led by the Journey Program coach. Following the workshop, each participant was visited in the field by the coach, to help them one on one with their new skills.

Outcome

Results were obvious immediately. People started communicating effectively; they started working together for a common goal, they understood the importance of their role in the team. Team members commented that they did not know what had happened to their Supervisor, but it was amazing.

The Mining Superintendent who had not had any leadership training before was awakened to his impact on his people. He changed how he operated, and the tension on the site disappeared. He started to delegate rather than do everything, so he wasn’t so tired and angry, and he communicated and managed.

The Superintendent and the Mine Manager worked together on a site management plan, using the Journey Program planning templates, and they monitored their progress towards their targets.

The Mining Superintendent saw the positive impact of the Journey Program and become a champion of its use.

The Journey Program coach left the site with tools to sustain the performance improvement. After 9 months the Mine Manager, was asked to assist other sites in the business to show them how he had turned the site around.

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