Monday, February 22, 2016

Fighters, Fixers, Spectators and Eye-Rollers - Full Article

By Patti Stedman | February 18th, 2016

For a long time, I’ve been an Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) consultant and trainer.

Employers come to me to help them solve issues in their workplaces related to risks to their employees that they cannot handle on their own — dangerous chemicals or confined spaces or working on machinery.

It’s the sort of business enterprise that teaches you to quickly size up an organization’s function (or dysfunction) so that you can find out where to fit in and assist, or in some rare cases, back away slowly and say “this is not the client for me.”

While it is not necessarily my circus, they may be assigning me a monkey to manage, so I’d better figure out how that circus functions.

AERC is both like and unlike the clients with whom I work.

Similar in that people are engaged in doing what they think is best for the organization. (I believe in my heart that most people, no matter how inept or dysfunctional, are not evil.)

Dissimilar in the fact that with the exception of a tiny office staff, AERC is a volunteer-driven organization, which means that what drives the people involved is their PASSION for our sport, or some aspect of it.

By their nature such organizations have a variety of players, and this can lead to some fascinating interactions. That is, if you’re observing in an anthropological kind of way, FTSOI, as my friend Anita says, “For The Science Of It.”

It can lead to some profound frustration if you are the unstoppable force (driven by passion) moving against an un-moveable object (driven by the same magnitude of vigor).

As one might imagine, trying to lead such an organization is a bit like herding cats...

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