Priority vs. consideration

The fascinating part of crossing borders, of a country or a county, to go and work is to learn the little details a client, or a country, looks at first. In the UK, Health and Safety seems to have taken one of the first ranks in things to know of, remember and apply. Not only with the Corporate Manslaughter (and Homicide) Act, the UK has gone deep in the legal roles and responsibilities individuals and corporations fall under. The rules and regulations understandably come from the government’s duty of care and obligation to protect its population. Pretty straight forward, indeed.

Conducting a risk assessment to identify trip hazards, an improper rest area or a defective ventilation system has become the norm. The main intention is to prevent any accident from happening, whether at the workplace or at home: all very considerate, and reflective of a concerned, and caring, management. This is very reassuring, and training has been fairly intense in the planning phase leading to the Summer Games. Last week’s workshop, however, turned out to be slightly more entertaining than any other one in the past. And that has not to do with the facilitator’s knowledge, rather with his approach and presentation skills.

Being taught about H&S, week in, week out, can be very daunting and/or boring (especially when another attendant to the training comes out of it and says “there was nothing I did not know”): quite a distressing position to hold and carry for the promoter of the course. To that point, and to encourage the attendance in participating more, and looking at scenarios in a more relative manner, the coordinator reminded the audience to make a clear distinction between consideration and priority. H&S requires a great consideration, without falling into a priority that may distract a project manager from her/his main goal.

Basic, smart, and simply realistic. As well as reassuring, coming from an H&S manager with a lot to share, teach and remind to a public easily flustered with never-ending series of important details, deflecting its attention span from any H&S preoccupation. Consider, yes, prioritise, eventually. This is not to invalidate the importance of H&S, or any other project “sideline” for that matter. It is more about balance, as always, and staying away from micromanaging a single matter, often leading to losing track, and sight of the bigger picture.

Being considerate of priorities may be challenging (including to others around, clients or suppliers), yet, experience has shown and proven it helps navigating evenly, if not effortlessly, through the meanders of a project. One point, such as H&S, shall not be the tree hiding the forest: it is only an element that deserves full consideration, knowledge and understanding, so the relationship to other functional areas gets to flow. That goes for team work, and coordination of/with different personalities too. Consider, yes. Focus, absolutely. Prioritise, as long as the target stays visible and clear. Pick your battle(s) (consideration), and do not take anything personally (priority).