Going stale is for bread, not for human beings. I have been at the risk management game for a very long time. And one thing I recognized long ago was this: never let yourself go stale. It happens quick. Just like bread, a month goes by and you are stale. Now, let a few years go by and you are not only stale, but you also aren’t relevant. That spells big problems for safety and risk.
In the last few months the Stale Factor has been shinning through. I have witnessed it in long toothed risk managers who call to tell me they were given the pink slip. But much more frequently, I see it every time I start to work with new clients. The funny thing is that they think no one can see the glow of their Stale Factor. It shines and shines bright. It screams to those around you “this guy has no idea what he is doing.”
Let’s look at a few examples of what going stale looks like and what that ultimately means for the person going stale. Let’s just say, it ain’t good.
Example one: The person has been a risk manager for 15+ years helping public agencies sort out their safety and risk management issues. A real expert. Then through no fault of their own, they find their head on the chopping block. After a few months on the new job, it becomes apparent that they don’t know the first thing about safety and risk. Simple things like hazard communication, ergonomics, eye wash station usage are all beyond their comprehension. The funny thing is that they should have had this training as an employee based on the tasks they had to handle in their position. That new $200,000.00 a year job disappears overnight.
Example two: The codes and standards change all the time under CalOSHA. So when the trainer shows up to do training, the slide deck contains references to MSDS when that was changed four years ago to SDS. Someone in the audience actually reads the slide and questions the trainer. Everyone in the room looses confidence in what they are being taught.
Example three: You are tasked with making sure everyone gets the required training they need. Schedule after schedule keeps getting changed becuase the organization isn’t ready. They still don’t have their policy in place to do the trianing. That’s fine once, but year after year? It shows that you really don’t give a darn about the employees you are paid to protect. Policies are quick and easy to put together. There just isn’t an excuse.
Example four: This is the worst of the worst. The agency has their policies together. They hire the right trainer and then when it comes time to do the hands-on practicals, the equipment hasn’t been calibrated, is charged, missing pieces, etc… With all the time to prepare, in the moment of truth you show your staff that you really just don’t care.
When employees come up to me after training and tell me things like “wow, we have done this for the past 10 years every year and we never did the required practicals before”, that tells me immediately I have a lot of work to do. At the end of the day, your safety and risk management consultant knows you are going stale. That you are slipping. And worse, so do your employees. They can see. It shines bright.
Don’t go stale. Do the work. Stay up to date. Attend conferences. Join Campfire. Listen to your consultants and get after that task list.