Changing Direction: Setting New Goals Midstream

Jeff Anderson

So you started the year with lofty goals. This was the year your company was going to have zero lost time injuries. Or, your Total Recordable Incident Rate was going to finally be below 1.0. Maybe your goals were training related with X number of employees completing your predetermined course list. That overhaul of your curriculum was finally going to get done because you now had the time. And, all your efforts were going to lead to that reduction in premiums from your insurance carrier you've been gunning for. Your program is sound, your people well trained and motivated and the organization has a positive safety culture. This is going to be the best year of your safety career!

And then, reality sets in. The truth is, in the business of safe guarding your employees and your business, you can have a great program and do everything right and still have things go off the rails. That’s because people are involved and people make mistakes. You try to put as much in place to mitigate those mistakes from proper hiring, training both initial and ongoing, PPE and engineering controls, auditing and oversight, and proper disciplinary procedures. But even then, things can still go wrong.

So now you're half way through the year and your goals are all out of reach. How do you reset realistic goals and keep your team motivated?

  • Not unlike when you set your initial goals, you need to have an honest assessment of where you are.
  • Take a step back and reevaluate your numbers goals. If you’ve already blown past where you thought you would be, then what is a realistic goal for the remainder of the year? The new goal should be a challenge, but it should be attainable. 
  • Once you've reset your goals for accidents and injuries you need to convey it to your organization. Explain why you are resetting the goal and provide direction on how you will achieve it. Has there been a spike in a particular type of injury? Or has a region been responsible for the missed goal and if so why? Has the business changed and if so how will you address it? In safety, you must adapt to changing situations.
  • If you've missed your training targets take a look at why. Did your organization have a change in focus? Did business conditions lead to a change in workforce? Or maybe there was a major acquisition that was a distraction. Time to prioritize what needs to be done and set out a plan to make it happen. You may not be able to get everything done you had hoped, so do the things that are the most critical and will get you the best results.
  • And finally, when it comes time to renew your insurance, have a plan to address with underwriters why you are where you are. If you have fallen short, explain what you are doing to fix the situation. You can still have a good result in the renewal process if you have a plan and are executing that plan. Adapting to the current climate will go a long way to making that Loss Control visit go smoothly. Of course, the plan has to be achievable so make sure you have done a thorough evaluation of your company’s capabilities. You don’t want a “paper plan” that isn’t anything close to the reality of what you can execute.

Things change throughout the year and even the best laid plans can be thwarted by the actions of one or two people. When those goals of the beginning of the year are no longer attainable, you can’t just continue on like nothing has happened. You need to be flexible and reset your goals to reflect where you are. If you do this and communicate them effectively, you can right the ship.  

Please post comments or questions below. Additionally, the Gibraltar Group is available to assist you with a complete safety program review including recommendations and plans for improvement. If you are interested, contact one of our advisors today.

Justin Crain,
Jeff Anderson,