Author Bio ▼

Heather Beach is Founder and Managing Director of The Healthy Work Company and has been running businesses in health and safety for over 20 years. Having run Barbour, SHP and Safety and Health Expo, she is now running her own business. The Healthy Work Company provides solutions which drive the wellbeing agenda to enable thriving in the workplace at all levels. Offering more than simply training, it delivers strategic support for your wellbeing programme. "We are driving the mental health agenda towards how human beings thrive in life – often through work, not in spite of it!"Heather can be reached on [email protected].
May 4, 2017

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Marvellous mentoring – the vicar’s way

Mentorship is a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. So says Wikipedia.

There are a few mentoring schemes within the OSH community of which I am aware; IOSH runs one which supports members through the levels of membership for example, but I doubt that any of them has the impact that the Wayne Lawton scheme does. Wayne’s Scheme is a little more than just mentoring, it also includes coaching and development intertwined in the structure of the programme.

Above: mentee meet-up in the Grazing Cow pub

Wayne’s scheme is carefully structured from his own experience over the last 21 years and the experience and feedback from other professionals about what they wish they would have found useful at the start of their career.  It involves a big commitment from those taking part, and from him.  Wayne took on 4 mentees for this year and given that Wayne has just taken on a new role at Kier as Head of SHEA for infrastructure utilities, I know this is all done in his spare time (I do worry about his wife and his two children though!).

Planning and pledges in the mentoring programme

Wayne encourages all of his mentees to have a plan. When he meets them for the first time he gives them a journal in which he encourages them to use a format he got from a vicar’s journal.  This includes: a pledge – an introduction to who they are; what is important to them around their career; why safety is important; what their commitment to their development will be; what their safety standards and principles are; and some feedback – 360 if possible. Then they go through a plan for the next three, six, nine and twelve months about the programme. They discuss a development plan tailored to their career ambition and the steps that will get them to this point in the next 9 years.

With the journal Wayne suggests the mentee use inspirational quotes where they can. He then encourages them to keep a daily record, looking at: the progress they have made that day against their commitments; their standards; their development plan; what they have taken from the team sessions; what worked that day and what they will do differently tomorrow; does it change or help their path. Wayne sees this as a key part to the programme for the mentees, as it allows for discipline and self-reflection and thinking about the ambition they are trying to achieve.

The programme is based on bi-monthly one-to-ones and team sessions with senior level guest speakers. In the individual meeting with each of his mentees, Wayne will ask them: where they are against their plan; what successes they have achieved; what they have tried; what they took from the team sessions; and what may be stopping them. In the one-to-one sessions Wayne encourages individuals to reflect on the previous month and look at the development plan and their career ambition. They look at progress, changes and challenges.

This type of discipline, if followed, should improve their use of time significantly through improving their focus.

Health & safety experts and mentee get-togethers

Wayne is convinced that the key to the success of the programme is the inclusion of other experts – and so once a quarter, they all meet at the Grazing Cow in Telford – just the mentees and invited guests, who give their time for free to share their knowledge. The object of the team sessions is to give the mentees the opportunity to sit in a comfortable, relaxed environment with the guest speakers who have all achieved a high reputation and standard of leadership in their career. This gets from them the tools and techniques they have used along with the successes and failures which they have learnt from. Each speaker will give their own advice and tips and it is then for the mentees to use this fantastic toolbox in their everyday roles.

For the session I attended, the experts on the panel were Simon Marshall – who runs a company doing leadership consulting in the health and safety space, and Keith Cockfroft – a seasoned CMIOSH who: has worked in health and safety for 30 years across all industries; has read and studied very widely on the subject; and, according to Wayne, is one of the best health and safety leaders he has had the pleasure of working with.

He has some incredible experts lined up over the next few months, including Neil Budworth, John Green, Louise Taggart to name but a few.

Wayne’s mentees were Alex Bartolle, Euan McRobie and Adam Reed (Tim Tyson was missing sadly, due to a blown tyre). All came prepared with questions and there was lively debate over which qualifications were the best and whether it made sense to be CMIOSH. Keith shared the importance of messaging from managers, while Simon – like his namesake Simon Sinek [], urged them to find their ‘why’.

Wayne asked each of them what they were planning to work on between now and the next session.

The power of a network

Wayne believes that networks are incredibly important. He has 30,000 connections on LinkedIn and always has someone to ask if he needs support.  He creates a group on LinkedIn for his mentees to share and by getting together bi-monthly – they are building strong relationships.

Adam Reed agrees “I have already made friends during the course of the sessions with Wayne, which is always a fantastic thing.  I started these sessions with an open mind on what to expect, and can honestly say it is a fantastic thing Wayne is doing. When I am at a more senior role in my career, I will most certainly be doing this too, giving back into the profession by inspiring and helping individuals who are just starting out in health and safety.”

Wayne doesn’t have so much in the form of formal education. At school he was known by one particular teacher as ‘porridge’ (meaning a bit thick). Wayne is not CMIOSH, but has worked at a senior level in safety for a significant period of his 21 years in Safety and has worked in some of the larger UK companies in his career to date. Wayne isn’t keen on some of the buzzwords floating around about new approaches to safety – for Wayne it’s just a question of doing the right thing respecting yours and others’ lives and enabling people to do the job safely because it’s a value that is believed in – yet you would be hard pushed to find someone who has not taken their individual learning so seriously.

The next generation

I was struck not just by Wayne’s passion for making a difference, which is common to many in safety, but to the fact that he has thought long and hard about how to do that for the next generation of health and safety professionals.

Constantly looking to learn and develop, very honest and aware of who he is right now, in the knowledge that he can grow – as can his mentees. He looks at the future of Health & Safety with a view that to have the impact he desires in his career, he needs to get the senior leaders in the field to share and influence the mentees in to looking at the way they need to develop and work with business to achieve the continual improvement we all desire. And by giving these tools and knowledge, the mentees will have a better start and vision in their career than they might otherwise. Alex Bertolle says “we’re getting not only the opportunity of valuable networking but, more importantly, the opportunity of personal growth and development, the chance to really take control and actively shape our careers, to take the time to reflect and ask ourselves what it is that we want to achieve and how we are getting there. And it all goes by knowing thyself, doesn’t it?”

Wayne did have his own plan which he started to set out at 25 a couple of years into his career. It was to become a head of health and safety by the age of 40. At 41 he has achieved this. Now he has met this ambition, Wayne has already set out the plan for the next 10 years and started looking at delivering his next aim.

Wayne says “the aim of this was to give something back to the industry and to share what I have and what I can gain from my network with a group of passionate, committed new safety professionals to give them a start which very few have in their career. My ambition is for this to then support them to have the maximum impact in safety and help to proactively drive the improvements throughout. Importantly, I’m hoping that by doing this I can inspire my mentees to continue to do what I am doing and also inspire other safety leadership professionals to consider doing a similar thing. Improving safety in industry does not lie with just ourselves but in the next generation professional and the ones after that. Our legacy should be to enable these professionals to pick up the gauntlet and be better prepared and enabled than we were so as to achieve what we strived for. Success for me would be to see these individuals achieve their ambition and to help others to do the same”

Not bad for Porridge.

I think this could be a scheme which could be released to others in the community for a nominal fee from organisations (to cover room hire etc.). If you are interested in knowing more, becoming a mentor or a mentee, contact myself [email protected] or Wayne over LinkedIn directly.

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