One of the most important steps in creating a positive safety culture is to regularly measure your safety efforts, tracking, and leading and lagging indicators. This helps you determine what is working in your safety systems and more importantly, what is not working. But, it’s not enough to just collect the data; you must analyze it and act on it. The best way to act upon the data is to develop an action plan.

An action plan is a list of steps you create in order to meet a predetermined goal. Follow these commons steps to develop and implement your action plan:

1. Define your goal – create a team to examine where you currently are now and where you hope to be when you complete your action plan. Make sure the goal they identify is SMART:

  • Specific – Your goal should be clearly defined, enough so that it is easily understood to everyone involved.
  • Measurable – You should be able to use an agreed-upon set of metrics to measure whether or not you are making progress towards your goal and also whether or not you achieved it once you are finished.
  • Achievable – No matter how big or small your goal may be, it is vital that your team can actually achieve it. Setting an unachievable goal will not only set you up for failure, it will have a negative impact on your organization’s morale.
  • Relevant – The goal should coincide with your organization’s values, purpose, and long-term goals. It should also address your organization’s overall risk.
  • Time-based – The goal should follow a predetermined and reasonable timeline. This helps create a sense of urgency, provides motivation, and helps you determine which tasks to prioritize.

2. Identify the specific tasks and resources needed to achieve the goal – Have your team take time to break down the entire process into a list of tasks to complete, and assign each task a timeframe for completion. Then, review each task and determine what resources you’ll need beforehand so that obtaining these items won’t become an obstacle later on. Remember, people are a resource that you will need to consider during this planning process.

3. Create a visual representation of the entire process and delegate responsibilities – As a team, organize your tasks into a timeline calendar, or flow chart. Prioritize each task and set realistic deadlines. Then, determine who is best suited to complete each task, and outline for them the timeframe for beginning and completing the work.

4. Create milestones – Milestones act as signposts. They show progress towards your goals and will help motivate your team and keep it on track. Set your milestones as a team.

5. Monitor, evaluate, and update as needed – Schedule regular meetings with your team to check everyone’s progress, evaluate what is and what is not working, and modify the plan as needed. Formally setting aside this time will allow the team time to celebrate when it reaches milestones, and give you time to identify barriers and find solutions for tasks that are not proceeding as expected.

Don’t forget: As you develop your action plan, make sure to elicit input and feedback from not only the people involved in putting the plan into action, but also those affected by the plan’s outcome. Make sure that you include a wide variety of people in the planning and brainstorming parts of the plan.

Remember, change is difficult for many people. Involving as many people as you can in the process will ease much of the pain caused by the change you are hoping to implement.