…early engagement and management of stakeholders…is a common mistake among HSEQ professionals.
Introducing “HSEQ Career Column” with Olawale Ogunyebi.
The HSEQ Career Column is a weekly article series written by Olawale Ogunyebi, a DuPont Master Coach, Besafe Super Trainer and a former Africa Regional Safety Operations Manager (Unilever). He is presently the Managing Partner at MTC ENT. Dev. Limited. The purpose of this series is to mentor entry-level and struggling HSEQ professionals, narrating and drawing out lessons from the writer’s real-life experiences in the safety industry. Catch up with the posts you’ve missed HERE.
I had just taken over the role of the Regional Safety Manager for the continent after a very successful stint as a corporate Safety Manager in Nigeria.
Full of excitement and brimming with confidence, my first IGG ( Initial Gra Gra – The newbie’s first step to demonstrate the promotion was well deserved) action was to introduce a Personal Safety Plan (PSP) for all the directors across the region.
The PSP had been very successful in the Nigerian operation as a tool by leaders to demonstrate visible felt leadership. It had three actions per quarter for every director; quarterly site safety inspection, one Safety Talk and one Safety Behavioural Observation (SBO) per quarter.
Every month, I track and report progress at the Central HSE committee meeting led by the MD. It was a best practice
To my shock and disappointment, my proposal was not well received by the directors outside Nigeria.
“Wale, from the facial expressions here, it seems your proposal is not flying. You will need to go back and work more on the proposal” That was my regional VP giving me an on the spot feedback after my virtual presentation to his team on the regional roll-out of the PSP.
What could have gone wrong? I overlooked a very important component of managing change – early engagement and management of stakeholders. This is a common mistake among HSEQ professionals.
It is not enough to create a vision, we must be able to inspire people to believe in that vision, and see through its execution.
A stakeholder is any individual, group, or organization that can affect, be affected by, or perceive itself to be affected by your programme, idea or project.
Your goal is to create a positive relationship with all your stakeholders through the appropriate management of their expectations and agreed objectives.
As you deploy HSEQ programs, watch out for these five (5) different postures to your idea or project. They are the blocker, the critic, the neutral, the supporter and the evangelist. The names are self explanatory.
It is important that you identify who these people are within and outside your organization or team, know their influence and interests in the project or idea.
Your main focus must be on stakeholders with high influence and high interest. Spend less time with neutral and low influence stakeholders but do not ignore them.
Work closely with the evangelists especially if they are very influential. Occasionally, showcase their effort or input on the initiative. Let them know that you will need their support in securing organisation buy-in for the project.
Be ready with data, technical, and financial evidence to overcome skepticism and persuade the blockers and the critics especially if they are very influential. Let them know you are a partner and not an opponent. Look for a win-win opportunity. Be open to feedback and use the feedback to improve your project, ideas or initiative.
Finally, should your project be rejected, know that the rejection of your idea does not necessarily mean the rejection of your person. Timing is very important. All the best in managing your next project!