Human Performance is in our DNA
People are an organisation's greatest asset but even the best people are fallible and can make mistakes which have the potential to result in catastrophic consequences.
Understanding why errors occur, how organisations unintentionally set their people up to fail and learning what to do to mitigate against the consequence of error will make Human Performance a part of your DNA too.
Teresa Swinton - Founder and Owner, Paradigm Human Performance Ltd
An introduction to me and my "HP" journey and why I think your organisation should get to know Paradigm Human Performance Ltd
I recently started my own company and touch-wood, so far it's going pretty well but during a recent conversation with a career mentor I was asked to reflect on how I practice what I, very passionately, preach! What is my learning from 3 short months in business? What's going well and where could I improve?
I thought back to why I originally started my company, the mission statement I devotedly committed to paper (not to mention the world wide web) and the values I carefully crafted that my company would be built on. I was still confident that I was 'walking the walk' and that my first few clients were very happy with the service I was providing. Then I started to think about some of my initial business errors and the areas for improvement I needed to focus on. There were a few although thankfully nothing too major and I use them as great examples in my speaking and training events so I'm not giving them away here!
However, my number 1 business error to date is the reason I have written this piece, which I hope you'll read and perhaps even enjoy!
Error number 1 - Failing to give my company a face!
Yep, I am not great at self-promotion - I didn't think people would be interested in seeing my mug on our website or that they'd be interested in knowing who was behind this new company with a cool name and a fab website! I just stayed hidden & invested in a fantastic website (thanks to Bluelinemedia.co.uk), I hooked up with some great people to promote my company on social media (thanks drumbeatmarketing.co.uk) and I used my amazing network of friends, family and acquaintances to introduce me to my first clients, who then introduced me to my second clients and so on. However, I have never yet publically shared my face, my story, the reason I started my company and the extremely difficult challenge I have set myself to bring human performance to 1000 organisations by 2030, not so that I can buy a big yacht and sail around the world (although that would be quite nice) but because I am passionate about what I do - so passionate in fact that I have been so busy "doing what I do" that I need to
promote my company and myself to a lot more people if I am going to achieve that mission and land my metaphorical spaceship on Mars! So here it is - my story. Let me know what you think about what I do, let me know if you'd like some more information, have a look at my website or give me a call.
Perhaps my business can help your business sometime soon!
I'm Teresa Mullen and I'm the Founder and Owner of Paradigm Human Performance Ltd. I have spent the majority of my career working in high risk industries such as Construction, Rail, HV Distribution and Electricity (including nuclear) Generation where my last 'employed' role was 'Human Performance Manager' for a large UK Energy producer.
I changed my career path after experiencing a significant workplace event which happened 'on my watch' as an Operations Manager a number of years ago. The event had a profound effect on me, both personally and in my career.
I became interested in what makes people do the things they do at work. Back then some of my best people were those who 'just got on and got the job done', 'didn't ask too many questions', 'loved a challenge', 'were thankful for the job', 'couldn't do enough for a good company', 'could be trusted to deliver against all odds'; these were the ones I called 'my good guys' and seven of them had been killed on their way to work, on a job where I was the boss. What had been my role in this tragedy? What was it about my behaviour that drove those men to get in a vehicle that morning and attempt to get to work in the most unsafe circumstances?
I returned to academia and completed a degree in Occupational Health and Safety Management, thinking that I could really start to make a difference but I became frustrated when the organisations I worked for were only really interested in finding someone to blame when something went wrong.
Behavioural and traditional safety approaches just didn't cut it for me; I felt they were more about ticking boxes and passing audits than truly keeping people safe and company's profitable.
Finding something more
I quickly realised that the lens was too narrow and so the effort to address it was too small! This wasn't a safety problem, in fact - safety was the least of our challenges, we employed highly competent and capable people and our safety performance was extremely good! It was an organisational problem and therefore the solution had to be owned and addressed by the whole of the leadership team and the workforce, not just the safety manager; after all, the errors that people make at work don't just result in accidents, they have a huge impact on the whole of the organisation - reducing productivity, increasing operational costs, impacting reputation, affecting product quality, lowering efficiency and demoralising staff and leaders alike which ultimately affects organisational culture.
I needed to find something else, something that was more than just the next 'safety initiative' with the usual 2-year life expectancy; Something that a whole leadership team could own and embrace for the long term and that would really bring a workforce together from the top to the bottom of the organisation, enabling them to talk openly, treat each other and be treated justly and share and solve problems together.
That was when I came across Human Performance. At the time, it was introduced to me as a way of improving safety, the next 'big' thing to follow behavioural safety - the latest 'buzz' in the world of safety management. What I quickly discovered is that Human Performance is about so much more than safety. I was introduced to the concept that "People are the solution to be harnessed and not the problem to be solved" which was the exact dichotomy I had been struggling with for years, although I had never phrased it so eloquently!
At last I had found a philosophy supported by a strong methodology, not just esoterical academic drivel that sounds great in theory but has no practical implementation plan - here was a set of sound principles which I could turn into tangible deliverables in my own organisation.
It was the 'missing' thing I'd been looking for; I was already 100% sold - and then it worked!
Human Performance is about
- Educating leaders to be more effective communicators, better informed managers and more courageous decision makers;
- Providing training and real-time tools and techniques to help workers recognise specific error precursors which increase their propensity for error and to adopt new habits and behaviours to avoid them. and
- Supporting organisations in identifying organisational weaknesses and latent conditions which can result in human error, to understand how errors can occur and why, and what the consequences might be so that they can start to plan for and manage the risk more effectively.
I was privileged to go on to implement and manage the Human Performance 'programme' for 2 large UK organisations; I have seen and experienced first-hand how powerful it is as a holistic business improvement technique when not just confined to safety and I knew that I had to share 'Human
Performance' with other industries and organisations in the UK and so the plan was set in motion to form Paradigm Human Performance Ltd.
Since starting my business in September 2017 I have been fortunate enough to work with a number of major clients both internationally and here in the UK. I have also worked collaboratively with a number of associates around the world to deliver training and projects for some of their clients and I have been invited to speak at a number of events across different industries.
Like all new businesses I am working hard to raise awareness of my 'product' and my company, nagging my network and knocking on the doors of some of the amazing people I have known, and worked with over the years.
Having been a 'corporate' manager for many years I know the consultancy challenge from both perspectives - as a client not wanting my organisation to become over-dependent on a consultant, and as a consultant needing reliable, continuous work to survive. I gave this a lot of thought when developing my business model and here is my take:
I started my company because I have a passion for Human Performance and what I know it can deliver for any organisation, regardless of size, market or industry. I have a natural ability to deliver a high volume of excellent quality work, I can communicate effectively, empower and motivate people at all levels of any company and importantly, I can teach others to do what I do, including my clients' people.
My business model is based on teaching and developing highly competent subject matter experts at a senior organisational level for my clients, embedding a basic set of skills and knowledge at all levels of the organisation and then supporting these people to design, develop and build their own sustainable programme which they can maintain themselves when I have moved on to my next challenge.
I have made it my personal mission to reach out to at least 1000 organisations by 2030 both personally and through my network of amazing associates, to teach them about Human Performance because I want to make a real difference in the working lives of thousands of workers and leaders and in the organisations they work in.
I want to make Human Performance accessible to all companies and organisations regardless of their size and stature, because of course it's not just large corporations who have to deal with human error, in a small company human error can be catastrophic and so I have developed a blend of services which can be tailored to any budget.
A colleague of mine once said to me "As a Leader, I am always mindful of the shadow I cast." This struck a real chord with me at the time and I often repeat it when I introduce my company and the philosophy of Human Performance to Senior Leadership teams who are looking for the next step in the evolution of their organisation. Everything we do and say as a leader impacts the way in which our people perform at work, the shadow we cast can have far reaching consequences. I believe Human Performance is the key to the door, the answer to the question. I believe your people are a solution to be harnessed and I believe my company can make a difference in yours.
Paradigm Human Performance recently held a webinar that outlined suggested measures business should consider adopting when staff begin returning to work. The advice was gained from health professionals who had experienced dealing with previous pandemics such as SARS, MERS and Ebola. Consequently, their experience was gained from being isolated following caring for patients rather than a mass lock-down that much of the world's population currently faces.
The two factors to consider are the physical and psychological impacts.
Recently Teresa Swinton, the Founder and Owner of Paradigm Human Performance, gave a presentation to her neighbours in the Plymouth Science Park, Plymouth, UK, and titled it Managing Operational Performance During COVID-19. There are many gems and valuable nuggets in the presentation, but one struck a chord with me when she mentioned Deference to Expertise, a principle of High Reliability Organizing. You would be well-served if you were to view the entire presentation here: https://youtu.be/ai7F-CWXuvI