The following applies to any procedure development or review.  While I will refer to safety procedures, it doesn’t have to be an OHS / WHS procedure; it can be a HR procedure, finance procedure, procurement procedure, risk management procedure…any procedure.

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview.  It’s really just to set the scene for future articles.  In future articles I will go in to further detail and work my way through the typical life cycle of a procedure development and implementation project.

Remember this:

Procedure Development = project management

Procedure Implementation = change management

Often, I see people develop procedures without much in the way of deliberate methodology.  Someone decides that a procedure needs to be written, then someone goes out and writes it, consult with a couple of people after it’s almost completely finished, then take it up to senior management for approval.  Once approved, the procedure is posted on the organisation’s intranet, maybe some training rolled out, and people are just expected to follow it.  I see this method a lot, and time and time again I see it fail to get the required results.

So, what’s wrong?

Lack of Project Management

Firstly, developing a procedure is a project.  It is a temporary endeavour that should have defined beginning and end times, have a defined scope and resources.  The aim of the project is to develop a procedure that is unique to a particular process or task.

Have you ever seen the time it takes to develop a procedure extend well beyond what you would reasonably expect?  Drafts sit on desks for months at a time with no progress being made?  I see it all the time.

Therefore, we should apply project management principles when developing our safety procedures.  I’ll explain a bit about this further down the page.

Lack of Change Management

We need people to adopt and use the procedure that we’ve developed.  This requires deliberate change management practice.  We need to change how people perform a process or task.  This is the bit we often overlook and our safety and HR procedures end up just sitting on a shelf (or a virtual shelf on the intranet).

Project Management Lifecycle

Project management has a basic 5 step life cycle:

  1. Initiation
    The need for a new procedure has been identified
    A person is assigned responsibility to develop the procedure
  2. Planning
    Determine scope, resourcing, timing, quality standards, stakeholders
  3. Implementation
    This is the stage where we develop the procedure.
    Note: Don’t confuse this with the implementation of the procedure itself. That’s part of change management.
  4. Measurement & evaluation
    Is the development of the procedure progressing in accordance with agreed timelines, quality standards, within scope, with adequate resources, and within budget?
  5. Close & review
    Procedure is approved by senior management.
    Project is reviewed and any lessons learned are captured.

Change Management Lifecycle

According to Prosci ® change management has 3 key phases.  Each phase has some key steps.

Phase 1 – Preparing for change

  1. Define your change management strategy
  2. Prepare your change management team
  3. Develop your sponsorship model

Phase 2 – Managing change

  1. Develop change management plans
  2. Take action and implement plans

Phase 3 – Reinforcing change

  1. Collect and analyse feedback
  2. Diagnose gaps and manage resistance
  3. Implement corrective actions and celebrate success

I’m a certified Prosci ® change management practitioner and I strongly recommend taking the course.

Bringing Project Management and Change Management Together

It looks complicated, I know.  But it’s actually not.

Safety is straightforward; it is people who are complex. 

It is important to understand that for successful development and implementation of a safety or HR procedure we need to follow good project management and change management practices.

Done right, most of the implementation of the procedure can be done during the development of the procedure.

To get you started today, here are three very simple things that will help achieve success with your next procedure:

  • Develop the procedure with key stakeholders, for stakeholders.
    This gives them ownership of the procedure.  Make it their procedure in their language.  By the time the procedure is approved by senior management, the key stakeholders are not only familiar with the procedure, they are advocating it!  They own it.  This one step will make a massive difference to the implementation of the procedure.
  • Have senior leaders tell the organisation WHY the procedure is important.
    Change projects are far more successful when top management actively and visibly tell the organisation why change is necessary.
  • Have front line supervisors train their own staff (with OHS / WHS / HR coaching support) in HOW to perform the task or process covered by the procedure. All change messages should come from the direct supervisor and not safety or HR staff.  This is because direct supervisors should have established role authority and personal authority (through relationships) with their staff.  Research shows that when something is important to a direct supervisor, it becomes important to subordinates.

I’m always here to help

More articles will come and I will expand n this in more detail.

I love coaching people through this stuff.  It’s my passion in life.  I love seeing successful change.

Feel free to email me at mark@yoursafetycoach.com.au and we can see how I can help you too.