Using Risk Management to Enhance Employee Training

By Lermack, Harvey | Risk Management, June 2003 | Go to article overview

Using Risk Management to Enhance Employee Training


Lermack, Harvey, Risk Management


Successful organizations set high performance standards for safety, productivity, quality and service. They rely on their mid-level managers, first-level supervisors and other leaders to translate policies into action and to lead the way to attaining their objectives. These are the people who must understand upper-level management's requirements, process them into priorities, designate activities in order to accomplish them, and handle all the daily problems.

These operational leaders must be equipped with a thorough knowledge of the organization's business environment, its objectives and strategies, its policies and procedures, and the knowledge of how to apply leadership and interpersonal skills. These leaders also need a thorough understanding of the risk management model and its applications to the business.

Training Risk Management Leaders

Leadership training is often limited by budgetary and time constraints. And while it usually focuses on productivity, quality and service issues, it rarely stresses the need for risk management and safety leadership. Thus, a significant opportunity is lost as the company fails to reach the safety, environmental and other risk-related objectives that are key to its bottom line.

Risk managers understand the safety, environmental and other risk control measures that need to be implemented in the organization, but they have limited resources at their disposal. By modifying the programs that are already in place, however, they can attain the necessary risk management results. Working cooperatively with human resources and other departments, risk managers can implement a successful, integrated leadership training program. The approach described here is based on academic and practical research conducted over the past five years and on actual risk management leadership program experience.

Working with Human Resources

The human resources (HR) department is responsible for developing and delivering appropriate training programs to all personnel in the company. It may have an internal training staff or contract with outside organizations to develop and deliver training programs. But HR often does not understand the risk management training requirements or the best way to provide them. So training is limited to mandatory, rules-based, reactive cirricula.

Risk managers have the responsibility to communicate the risk-related training needs to HR; to provide technical expertise; and to ensure that all personnel are trained to make decisions as well as to identify, assess and prevent or manage risk.

For effective leadership training, the risk manager needs to work closely with HR. The company may already have a leadership program that simply needs to be augmented with safety and risk management topics. If not, a new program must be developed and implemented. In either case, the risk manager needs to use all of his or her partnership skills to work jointly with the HR staff or consultants to develop and deliver the training. In addition, the two departments will need to enlist the environmental, health, safety and Other departments, as well as risk-related subject matter experts.

Program Objectives and Organization

A successful leadership program involves three general objectives.

1. Perspective Setting. The first objective is to develop a consistent understanding among all managers about the organization and its place in the industry; the broader economic and competitive environment within which the company operates; the company's goals and objectives, and the strategies to attain them; and the various organizational functions and their mutual role in supporting or hindering their attainment.

2. Skills. The second objective is to assist the participants to develop some of the key leadership skills, such as communications, planning and organization, and interpersonal relations that are required in their leadership positions. …

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