Case For Consultation: A Managers Perspective
Abstract: This research supports the hypothesis that consultation, team work and congruence is a strategy to reduce risk, and that effective consultation reduces the potential for outrage when things do not go to plan. The research sought the opinion of managers on these matters, and if they were aware of own-biases that undermine the effectiveness in which they engage, and of antidotes to such “hazardous thoughts”. To understand what influences consultation (“upwards listening” as such) we conducted 4 preliminary one-on-one interviews. We then surveyed a total of 20 senior managers and other stakeholders in the coal mining industry, in an on-line survey. 100% of respondents (17/17) believe that access to information improves chances of making a correct decision; 78% of respondents (13/17) believe that managers are conscious of a socially divide (class-stratification) from subordinates; 100% of respondents (17/17) believe that managers must consult with employees in order to reduce Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) risk; 58% (11/19) believe that someone should be held to account for an OH&S disaster; 94% (15/16) believe that distributed decision making results in more resilient operations; 65% (11/17) agree that it is important for employees to have representatives to act as a channel of communication with management on safety and health matters; 71% (11/17) believe that elected safety and health representatives are likely to abuse their powers if they are a member of a union; 82% (14/17) believe that very close co-operation between mine managers, the Mines Inspectorate, and the workmen's inspectors reduces OH&S risk. The research demonstrated that managers are conscious of own-biases, and of behaviour that is capable of undermining consultation and system safety. Managers also understand why mismanagement of information can be promoted by others as prima-facie-evidence-of-neglect, or malfeasance, when disaster strikes. It is hypothesised that managers in safety system are akin to jurors in the judicial system; ethics apply, and both managers and jurors are expected to represent the interests of community, not themselves.
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