TTM associates Article

Jim Bennett
Jim Bennett, MSc (Eng), MIFireE, CMIOSH, MCIMgt, is an international business performance coach / Health and Wellbeing Leadership Speaker and Chartered Safety Engineer with operational and project management experience.
High performance behaviour empowers us to safely deliver world-class performance. Our behaviours create our common culture. Our behaviours have great power – the power to energise ourselves, our teams, our organisation, our communities.

For many decades the Energy Sector has recognised the role of behaviours in optimising performance and the prevention of major accidents. Behavioural safety is globally recognised as having a key impact upon accident causation and accident prevention. The UK Health & Safety Executive statistics demonstrate that over 80% of all incidents are due to human behaviours. Our corporate procedures, processes, systems and engineering hardware have been designed by humans so every element is as fallible or as safe as we are. We have the power of informed choice to make that difference.

Behavioural safety is not a simple topic. It requires a deep understanding of the mechanisms behind human behaviour. To add to such complexities, additional elements to be considered are shift work, home life, work/life balance, ergonomics etc. By being proactive and considering the Human Factors that impact our workplace behaviours (Individual, Task, Organisation and Working environment) we can change the conditions under which people work and where we interact to reduce risk.

Our workforce is a valuable source of insight into the layers of protection between hazards and incidents and injuries. However, people are also focused on performing the job and delegated responsibilities, and much of the knowledge of their insights which they have to offer may be implicit, unexpressed or not communicated. The crucial insights into the exposures associated with both past and present performances remain dormant in the daily routine of ‘just getting the job done.’

People perform tasks on a daily basis in all parts of our organisation. These tasks have an impact on Process, Plant and Performance:

  • People work in a variety of situations and a variety of plant and equipment – interacting with various systems and procedures on-site – such as risk assessments, permits, operating procedures associated with safe control of work.
  • People observe things: conditions of plant, nature of interactions between groups. For example: maintenance, operations, engineering, projects and contractors in the field – including the behaviours and decisions made by supervision and senior management.
  • People know how things work around there and see the impact of initiatives, management styles and group performance behaviours.

Have to vs want to

Understanding both personal and process safety requires a proactive, two-way, systematic exploration of hazards. The Energy Sector has over 25 years experience of Behavioural Safety Leadership. In safety, we empower our workforce to be ‘Leaders without Title’ – everyone can make a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of themselves and others.

It has been found that ‘forced compliance’ generally leads to “have to” behaviour, which has to be followed by close supervision and the use of sanctions. Greater thought and carefulness of hazards and risks together with knowledge of safe practices, recognition and encouragement in applying them, generates “want to” behaviour, which also increases motivation, accountability and supports the development of a safe operating culture.

“Have to” or compliant behaviour: things you have to do (e.g. turn up on time, carry out appointed tasks completely, obey rules, etc). These reinforced by extrinsic factors, such as supervision, training, rewards, audits, sanctions etc.

“Want to” or committed behaviour: things that derive from intrinsic factors, such as ownership, respect, understanding, confidence and personal motivation. This aspect is the choice of the person.

Everyone, from the boardroom to the front line worker, has a role in delivering world-class performance:

  • Behaviour is about choice
  • Beyond compliance, people choose the behaviour they adopt.
  • Encouragement, understanding and awareness help people to adopt safe behaviours and practices.
  • Positive reinforcement and recognition have the biggest impact on behaviour;
    • People ‘blossom’ when they are appreciated.
    • Effective business leaders, managers and supervisors reinforce how well people are performing.
    • The balance between positive reinforcement and formative feedback can be 4:1 or higher.
  • World class performance = world class language = world class behaviours.

We can learn from the past. In 1984 after the Piper Alpha disaster, it was even clearer for the Energy Sector that Health & Safety needed to be managed in a different way. The industry developed an integrated Business Management System approach in managing Major Accident Hazards that delivers world-class performance within our challenging economic environment.

High business performance is about the power of choice. The power of choice to design, construct, operate, inspect, maintain, manage and lead our organisations safely on a daily basis. The power of choice of behaviours. The power of choice of behaviours at Board, Managerial, Supervisory and workforce levels on a daily basis.

We can energise ourselves and organisations by empowering safe behaviours as ‘Leaders without Title’ to deliver safe, world-class results.


  • “World class HSE performance: Hearts and Minds”  [Link]
  • “Piper Alpha Lessons Learned”  [Link]
  • “Principle Human Factors Arrangements”  [Link]
Read more about Behavioural Leadership and Safety in the Oil & Gas Sector and about how TTM associates is helping organisations to drastically improve their safety profiles.