EHS OutLoud Blog

Ninja Strategy Series Part II: Identify the Missing Link


In Part 1 of the Ninja Strategy series, we discussed the importance of aligning your organizational and personal purpose and how common purpose drives a culture that is woven with sustainable behavior, organizational achievement, and overall excellence. We also recommended a survey question that pierces through the thickest filters and exposes the health of, perhaps, one of the most important and influential cultural drivers: the “want to” factor.

So how did your survey results turn out when you asked your organization the question: “Why do you come to work every day?”

If your results show that the majority of your employees did not select the “want to” option, then there is work to do. Your survey results can be an indicator of several foundational anomalies including the lack of effective communications, a misunderstanding of purpose, the lack of deliberate organizational and personal purpose, or the effects of an unrelated situation altogether.

Let’s start from ground zero.

Part 2: Identify the Missing Link(s)

This step will be the most challenging because it causes your organization to question everything and the answers may not be what it wants to hear. This is the step where rationalization clouds an otherwise clear vision, where the feeling of insecurity manifests itself in denial and where the organization will take its greatest leap of faith.

With the survey results in hand, reverse engineer the process that led to them. Ferret out each program, including your communications approach, to determine if their individual purpose is positively contributing to your overall organizational purpose and how these approaches line up with your employee’s purpose (from the employee’s perspective). The following is a very short list of sample questions that may help you jump start this process:

  • What message is being sent by leadership and front-line supervisors and by the overall organizational behavior during tight production schedules?
  • Are any people of influence not buying into the company’s EHS program? (People of influence are not necessarily in formal leadership roles. Often, people of influence will accomplish what designated leaders cannot.)
  • Are EHS communications handled by front-line supervisors as part of the normal process or as a separate and distinct activity?
  • Do your EHS education programs focus on “selling” the information or on delivering it?
  • Are there any other organizational issues occurring that are indiscriminately affecting the employee’s morale and excitement about reporting to work – something other than the EHS program?
  • What is new? What is firing up the organization to be innovative, creative and striving for excellence? Is there a specific emphasis on this from leadership?
  • Other than a need to survive financially, what empowering reason do employees have to work for your company? For their boss?

Focus your attention on identifying the missing link or links that are causing your undesirable survey results. This will help identify where resources are needed for expectation alignment and movement toward finding a common purpose.

Stay tuned for Part 3. Until then, your mission is to identify the inhibitors to the “want to” factor. Be patient with this step because it is a proven roadmap for driving your organization to the next level of EHS performance. The juice will be worth the squeeze.

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EHS OutLoud blog provides a candid look at health and safety issues both at work and at home.


Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is editor-in-chief of EHS Today magazine, a Penton Media Inc. publication. She has been writing about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990. She has been...

Stefanie Valentic

Stefanie Valentic is an associate editor for EHS Today magazine, a Penton Media Inc. publication.  A native of Cleveland, Ohio, she has been in B2B publishing for eight years. Her work has...
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