As I was going through a class on child development, a theory really stuck with me in regards to classifying styles of parenting. The theory was Baumrind’s Parenting Typology. I enjoyed and studied the four quadrant version that was expanded by Maccoby and Martin. In this typology, there are four basic parenting types based on: Responsive vs Unresponsive and Demanding vs. Undemanding. So in these cases a parenting style could be Responsive and Demanding or Responsive and Undemanding. The same options are then available for Unresponsive in the same way. This creates four typologies that represent the parenting styles: Indulgent, Neglectful, Authoritative, and Authoritarian. This theory was interesting to me simply because I am a dad, and I wanted to see how I could become a better parent (or maybe just see what my parenting style may ultimately do to my kids).

So . . . how does any of this relate to a safety blog and theory? How did I tie parenting and safety together?

It began with the creation of a training program for leadership behaviors in safety. There appeared that there are two key initiatives in safety: programs and behaviors. There are good behaviors vs poor behaviors and good programs vs poor programs. The in world of safety there can be a combination of each. My thoughts were what would a site look like that had combinations of the variables above. How could those be categorized? How would they function? What were some of the tell-tale signs of the groupings? These thoughts would come and go during my commute. One day it struck me that the four typologies that I was seeking were very similar to those that were listed in the parenting theory. This revelation helped fuel this series of blogs.

The best introduction to the process is to give some definition of behaviors and programs. These are the two items that made me really start thinking about what does a site look like as they have combinations of the two.

Behaviors: Think of this term as how all the employees behave with safety. Are they aware of the work they are doing and how it can be done safely? Do they work in a way that prevents injury? Are they self-correcting items? Do they focus on preventing incidents to themselves and the team?

Programs: This includes the written programs, policies, safety analysis, sampling, auditing, and training. Are the programs written, functional, and understood? Does the team know the policies and how to comply with them? Is the training adequate and regular? Is there investment to revise and improve the programs?

Certainly, there is always room for the gray areas. With good programs, there should be some push for good behaviors.The overall theory is not to look inside each category, but to give an overall macro view of the system. If there was a location that had very strong programs but very poor behaviors, this would create an interesting case study of why this phenomenon would occur. There has to be an underlying meaning to why something at the very top of one category would allow the other to be at the very bottom. It is an interesting thought theory but in practical cases when one improves with deliberate attention, the other should follow with some measure. As you can imagine, behaviors are the hardest to influence positively, takes time to improve, and can erode the quickest. Programs help drive behaviors in both positive and negative ways. There is a causal effect between the two. I am not going to focus on as much about the causes as much as focus on what each category looks like and how those appear in the over arching safety management system.

The focus of the next series of blogs is to better define the four quadrants of this process, and how I correlate those to the parenting typologies. It should be a fun journey.