Archives for June 2018

5 tips to reduce the agony of meetings

I’m sure we have all been stuck in a meeting and had thoughts similar, just as in the parody articles below. The question no doubt asked is – “how did we get here?”.

That’s actually the question that SHOULD be asked. How did team members end up in a meeting without being fully aware of what it’s about. So here are some simple tips on maximising the value of meetings and reducing the pain for those there.

  1. Define why you need it: So often a meeting occurs because you’re just used to having similar meetings or there is some vague need to get/give information. If you stop and WRITE DOWN exactly why the meeting is necessary, you will have a better chance of making sure it only goes ahead if critical as well as staying on mission. Having mixed or multiple WHY’s can mean it’s a combined topic meeting, but often this can make the process a bit confusing for those in the meeting. Consider breaking topics off into separate forums or at least have a firm boundary of when one topic ends and the second one starts (e.g. firm agenda).
  2. Only have who you need in the room: Meetings are expensive given most people lose at least some time preparing, getting there or in the gaps between finishing their last task and not enough time to start another before the meeting. And in today’s knowledge worker age, we need significant mental focus to do our work – thus lost time getting back on topic afterward. Having people in the room for less than essential FYI reasons is just a waste of time and money that could often have been achieved with a follow up email or ‘offline’ conversation.
  3. Communication but not as we know it: All meetings are about communication in some way, but if it’s purely about communication and not consultation, then there is a high likelihood that at least some of it can be completed outside of the meeting forum. While it sounds simple, don’t underestimate the value in defining the direction of the desired communication you’re wanting to occur in the meeting. Is it top down or is it bottom up? An organisations leadership team (e.g. the PCBU/employer) normally have numerous opportunities to communicate down to the team members, so have a good think to determine if this is the best forum for them to deliver their message. Often though, in the HSEQ space, there is a need to provide a forum for floor level workers to raise issues to their leaders. So if this is the WHY behind the meeting, what harm is being done when it starts with a 40 minute presentation from a HSEQ professional or supervisor on some issue of the moment? Doing this and asking after ward, are their any issues to be raised will likely end up with none.
  4. Set the meeting up for success: Pick a time and place that promotes effective communication. Where possible, don’t have it first thing on Monday morning or on fly out day when team members are still waking up or reconnecting after their weekend. The except is if it’s critical to the team’s awareness of what they’ve missed over that period or information to help keep them safe/allow them to do their job on that first day/shift back. At the same time, and meeting on Friday afternoon or just before knock off is just likely to have the feeling in the room that they’ll strangle anyone who drags it out my more than a minute. If you want them to listen to the message from the top, or to raise genuine concerns, then make it an environment that promotes this.
  5. Consultation and communication are different: Consultation happens WITH someone and communication occurs FROM or TO someone. So don’t kid yourself you’re engaging in a consultative meeting if it’s set up so there is an endless flow of communication occurring which suppresses any likely consultation. If the main priority for having the meeting is to meet legislated consultation requirements, then make sure it’s consultative. A small amount of communication to define what it’s about or to ‘break the ice’ of conversation is OK, but remain ever vigilant in your focus on why your there.

There are plenty of other good tips on making the most of your meetings, but hopefully these 5 tips will reduce the pain for workers and leaders in sitting through meetings that add no value or seem to never be able to achieve their intended aim.

Check out the links below to these parody articles on meetings. I can certainly relate to being in and unfortunately sometimes running those ineffective meetings myself. Hopefully you’ll now be less likely to do either.

Stuck in a meeting – The Daily Mash

No-one has a clue what this meetings is about – The Daily Mash


Vadim Pantall

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If it hurts, you’re still in the fight

When things go bad, it’s important to understand that’s just a perspective. But perception means you’re still alive and that’s gotta be a good thing right?

So there is no point getting bummed out with how it’s painful or things went wrong when you’ve been handed an opportunity to learn. Even if you feel you were unlucky, understand that nothing fails like success, and you’ve been shown how to do t better next time. You’re going to be able to remember the lesson for longer and be more motivated to maintain the lesson for far longer than those who never learnt it like you did.

Learning opportunities like your failure or issue that’s going on are critical to success. Because you’re now one lesson ahead of everyone else, and we all know that is the difference between being good and being great. It’s those that get up from a defeat just one more time than their competition…..

Good – Jocko podcast link

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Expert or biscuit?

When you get an expert in, make sure they’re the real deal, and not a fake.

It’s easier than ever to get fake or near worthless competency certificates but in the same era, it’s now easier than ever to check if they’re genuine or fraudulent. Have you done all reasonable checking to ensure your expert you’ve hired is as competent and qualified as they say they are?

Also verification of competency should be done to cross check they’re able to deliver on the elements required, even if they’re qualified and experienced. A tip is to do some quick desktop exercises to prove they’re able to deliver on the expectations or take them into your workplace and see how they’re behaving in the natural environment. Do they look at home or like a fish out of water?

A few minutes doing this will save you hours or days of fixing the issues a biscuit creates…



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Special moves to stay safe

Sometimes we have trained out our logic or the OHS systems of our workplace override our common sense actions, but it doesn’t have to be like that….

At Safety Risk Solutions, we help our clients get back to basics with their HSEQ systems to make sure they’re going to work and are not complex beyond logic. If they’re not going to work, we aren’t going to ask for it to be done that way. After all, why are we doing anything at all if it won’t even work.

How to defend yourself from a knife attack.

This guy has got some skills!


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Conflict can promote learning

Seek out the painful facts, debate them in a way that gets everything, whether moose, elephant or boogey monster into the table so the final outcomes is the best one you can come up with.

Pretending it’s not an issue or avoiding the hazard because of a fear of conflict is a sure way to have it simmer, grow and rot away at things until the level of harm it shows is more than you’re prepared for. Hiding it is not the way to learn.

A learning culture needs debate but in a healthy way, and it will likely have elements of conflict. Ray Dalio goes deep on the topic in his book Principles, and worth a read for anyone interested in how to get painful topics debates openly. It’s critical to achieving greatness, yet to often avoided. The outcome? Incidents that people say – Wow, where did that come from? Well it was inside all along.

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Hand tools are for hands

Our ubiquitous Stilsons appears to have claimed another life on a rig. Despite a whole lot of history, an organisation chose to do a job they knew was a roll of the dice.

Hand tools aren’t designed for applying mechanical force beyond what can be done by hand. Their handle lengths are used to calculate how strong they need to be so extending them or applying hydraulic forces are absolutely outside of their intended and designed use. Virtually every tool manufacturer clearly and explicitly communicates this if not on the tool, at least in the manual / user guide. Stepping outside of this is stepping into the liability zone should something slip up.

While there may be thoughts focussed on the individual’s decisions in the moment, in the scheme of things more often than not – largely irrelevant. It misses awareness of how these events could have easily been avoided. This would be via systems, not via behaviour. Behaviour doesn’t occur in a vacuum, but in the context of the work environment.

We worry about protecting our team members when they have a brain-fart or lapse of judgement, so we put comprehensive systems in place that reduce decision making. While in principle this is great, in practice it’s rarely applied effectively. Systems often aren’t quite done well enough and end up turning the brain off. OR they aren’t done right and the human ends up throwing the whole system out doing it their own way.

So in any tragic event, we should all look inside and investigate how it could have happened to us. Don’t look for why it can’t, but dig into why it might. Where could our systems allow someone to override them or ignore them? Where is the difference between life and death left to a single decision to step forward or to not step forward? Where are we left with a single control on our risk register of “Don’t have a brain-fart”?

Worksafe – Worker fatally injured working on drill rig

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