5 Habits of Successful QHSE Compliance Managers

Posted by Craig Thornton

And how to ‘up your game’

As consultants and implementers of QHSE software we obviously get to meet and talk with a lot of QHSE Compliance Managers. It’s fair to say we’ve got to know this fascinating species very well!

One thing we’ve realised is that it’s pretty easy to spot the good performers from the average ones.

Despite working in diverse industries, within various structures and in different parts of the world, all of the good performers have certain traits in common. 

Red 3D Digit 5 Isolated on White Background.

Below are five activities that successful QHSE managers do well – you could do a lot worse than follow suit.

5 activities the best QHSE managers excel at

  1. Create and deliver on the right strategy

    Having a QHSE strategy that is aligned and links to the organisation’s overall strategic direction is absolutely key to the success of your QHSE system.  Working in harmony with the organisation’s strategy increases your likelihood of success right off the bat.  It means you won’t be constantly defending your position or having to convince your management team of the merits of your decisions. You won’t be in danger of creating a personality management system and the direction in which you have to move will be clear.

    Linking the management system to the organisational strategy may sound obvious. However, I am (sadly) amazed how often managers are unable to answer basic questions such as “What is the vision?” and “Where do you see the system in 12 months’ time?”  If the QHSE Manager can’t nail down the answers, then it’s a solid bet that no-one within the organisation has a clear idea of what’s going on in the system, or their role in it.

    Remember, if you can’t explain it, it means you don’t fully understand it.  

  2. Focus on the most important risks in the organisation

    Again this may seem basic; however, for many managers the call of the spreadsheet and other busy work is strong. But focussing on the most important risks ensures that resources are allocated efficiently and effectively.  It means that risks are mitigated to an acceptable level – which in turn ensures that your people, the environment and the organisation can go on.

    Want to give yourself a kick up the pants to get more focused on risk? Just imagine for a moment what would be more horrifying – someone pointing out the inconsistent formatting in one of your documents - or someone pointing out that no work has been done on managing gas levels in a mine. Enough said.

  3. Conduct great internal audits and management reviews

    Both internal audits and management reviews are the canaries in the mine of your organisation. Combined, these two activities are great measures of how your systems are operating. Work hard on these processes to make them as effective and efficient as they can be. You won’t regret it.  

  4. Ask questions and be a good listener

    Be open to hearing how your systems are working. Equally important, be open to hearing how your systems are not working. Get out from behind your computer and go to the gemba. Ask your team how the systems are operating. Listen for both good and bad. Don’t filter the bad comments; instead see them for the opportunities that they are. “Show me” is the most important thing to ask in an internal audit. Ask it again, and again, and again.

    It really boils down one thing that we’re all capable of - showing up.  

  5. Keep learning and sharing

    Keep up to date with what’s going on in the compliance industry. Join groups on LinkedIn, and sign up with industry agencies. Talk openly to the regulators and to your certification bodies. Ask “what are the trends?” Find out what’s new and useful in technology. Connect with a mentor. Follow an industry thought leader. Write down your learnings and share them – I know from personal experience that nothing helps clarify your thinking like having to nail down an idea for a blog. Engage with others on social media. At the very least, continuing to learn and upskill will keep your work life interesting. It will also help to make you a great performer.

The takeaway

Take a moment to think about how you’ve spent your time over the last few weeks. Are you focused on the right activities – the ones that will add tangible value and make you better at your job?  

Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  1. Am I ‘on strategy’ and executing well?
  2. Am I focused on the big risk items?
  3. Are our internal audits and management reviews adding lots of value?
  4. Am I visible enough and asking the right questions?
  5. Am I learning and sharing?  


Tags: Management Review, Internal Audit, Compliance Management, QHSE Management