Atlantic LNG Company of Trinidad and
Photo kindly provided by C.
Toni Sirju-Ramnarine, Vice
President Corporate Operations.
At the opening, COO
Arlene Chow engaged the audience of employees, contractors and a few family
members by asking questions about safety. The atmosphere was both fun and
sincere (in keeping with the national culture). As she walked through the
seated crowd, reminding them of accidents
that had happened in liquefied natural gas plants in other countries, she
reminded them of the horrors that they had avoided at Atlantic LNG because of
their concerted safety efforts. She played a video similar to this one of an accident that resulted in
explosion in the Pemex gas facility in Mexico.
To understand the achievement
of Atlantic LNG in having an enviable
safety record, you need to understand the Trinidadian
carnival culture (large scale organized fun and cyclical
time) and the Trinidadian
national character (aggressive independence). Trinidadians do not like
rules and do not have respect for rules (especially chupid rules)
just because they are rules (anyone who knows me is probably rolling on the
floor laughing right now).
I noticed that one of the stalls at the Safety Village had a
sign up, “Culture trumps strategy every time.”
It is not that culture replaces strategy, but strategic
endeavors by upper management need to be aligned with the culture. Both the COO
and the CEO of Atlantic LNG are visibly and consistently committed to safety.
The participation of the highest levels of management in the
pre-shutdown safety event, is a key component of the culture
of safety. Although the current CEO, Nigel Darlow,
was unable to attend Safety Village 2014, in his absence, COO Chow gave the
opening speech. Darlow’s absence was notable because he is a known advocate for
the culture of safety. Darlow consistently communicates his commitment by
sharing his personal observations of safety matters in a weekly email update to
all staff which always begins
with a note on safety issues. The culture of safety requires more than a united
unidirectional message from the administration. It depends on every employee
and contractor internalizing safety rules. When safety equipment is hot and
bothersome to wear and when safety procedures are long or complicated and delay
the end of the work day, employees (especially Trinidadian employees) are not
going to follow them just because they are told to. They are much more likely
to follow them if there is an agreement within the group that these safety
precautions are of utmost importance. They must be socialized to put safety first
and no amount of top down strategic planning can replace that.
what do safety rules have to do with library leadership? In, libraries,
especially academic libraries, the stakes are extremely low by comparison with
a liquefied natural gas plant. Many librarians chose this career because they
perceived that they would have a low stress job. Librarians are generally not
like law-defying Trinidadians. They are not the kinds of people who refuse to
wear safety gear because they are too hot. But when the stakes are low, and
when morale is low, the chasm between the Trinidadian national character and
the typical librarian character grows smaller. In other words, if a library has
a “sick” culture, that is, a culture where, “[s]taff are unhappy and going
through the motions -- either waiting things out, or actively looking to jump
Mary), “culture [will eat] strategy for breakfast” (Peter Drucker).
take a moment to acknowledge that the culture at some libraries leaves much to
be desired. By contrast, the cultures
of the best workplaces tend to reflect the growing respect that employers
have for the values of Millennials.
“Flexibility in where
they work and how much they work is also a key driver in Millennial
satisfaction. This view differs in importance from that of the non-Millennial
generation, which places greater importance on pay and development
Learnings: Pricewaterhouse Coopers).
Some rights reserved
now, many of you have seen articles about Millennials
and their values
towards the workplace. When their
attitudes are viewed alongside the facts about employment laws and benefits
countries, it becomes increasingly clear that the academic library standard
of a 9-5
workweek with 22
vacation days and limited
maternity leave is unlikely to be enough to attract and retain Millennials.
Looking at the best workplaces
for Millennials, many of the same characteristics appear: clear
communication about rights and responsibilities, feedback/mentoring and
recognition, work/life balance, flexible schedules, unlimited
leave time and fun
perks such as free, healthy food, free gym memberships.
“Take any highly successful company and you will find a very
strong culture!” (Braun,
understandable that library leaders may not have the power or authority to
change the policies that determine how many hours per week library staff work
or how many vacation days they get, but they can do three things. The first is
to know the
culture. Pay attention to the individuals who thrive in your workplace. In
what way(s) does the workplace culture support their success. What does your
workplace reward and punish? Who gets to make decisions? The answer to these
questions will reveal a lot about what your
workplace culture is like.
second thing you can do is to be authentic and be transparent about the
culture. Talk to your employees about it in a nonjudgmental way. What are the
things that you cannot change? You and your employees need to get on board with
accepting those things.
the courage to change the things that you can change. Changing the culture does
not happen overnight, but perhaps there are small things that you can do to
change the culture within a subsection of the library. Start by being the change you want to
see within the group of people with whom you hold the most influence. According to former CEO Oscar Prieto, here’s
how Atlantic LNG promulgated a culture of safety, “The safety culture at
Atlantic was affirmed through consistent messaging in internal communications,
employee participation in safety observations and audits and the increased
presence of HSE Technicians [safety specialists] during facility maintenance
LNG Sustainability Report 2009).
other words, the administration did not merely devise a strategic safety plan
or a safety initiative and then require their employees to implement it. They
demonstrated their commitment to safety by being consistent in their message. They
used words, and provided opportunities for staff and contractors to learn by
seeing and evaluating safety procedures and they spent money to have more
safety specialists available to be “cultural luminaries, people who symbolize
your culture's values and can pass these values on to others” (Donohue,
Mary). They effectuated this cultural change by focusing everyone on the Why. Why
are they doing this? To keep everyone safe from the tremendous harm that can
happen when safety procedures are not loyally adhered to during a LNG plant
begin influencing cultural change in your library, here are a few practical
things that you can do:
you’ve read this far, please consider commenting below.