In 2018 the PADI Asia Pacific Quality Management team continues to bring you tips from PADI staff in the field on how to maintain and improve safety in your professional diving activities. This month we heard from Michelle Brunton, Manager Quality and Risk Management – PADI Asia Pacific.
Influencing Diving Behaviour
A dive store owner asked me the other day – “how can I get my instructors to be more conservative in the way they plan dives? I’ve told them to be more careful and we have it written in the employee handbook but I can’t seem to get them to change the way they do things when I‘m not looking”.
From a safety point of view store owners, instructors and training managers can assume a certain right and responsibility to try to minimise the risks of activities undertaken with their store. The underlying question to answer is “What drives human behaviour?” There are many models of human behaviour that we could consider but I think Plato summed it up when he wrote:
“Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge” Plato.
Whatever behaviour we are wanting to establish we need to find ways to link the behaviour to the desires and emotions of the people involved and we need to provide education about how to practice the new behaviour. There are three ways we can break this down. People will change their behaviour if they see the new behaviour as easy, rewarding and normal.
Make it easy: Make good diving behaviour easy logistically.
- Give your staff the resources they need to make diving safe – are there sufficient surface marker buoys, compasses and dive computer or digitimers on training equipment?
- Establish safe training sites that ensure divers can’t exceed planned dive parameters. Have a list of acceptable dive sites for each level of training and customer experience.
- Have signs on the boat and in the store that explain the pre-dive safety briefing to help them remember and practice the steps.
- Provide staff training opportunities to brush up on skills especially rescue skills, first aid and use of oxygen.
- Have regular meetings about ‘near misses’ to discuss what happened and what can be learnt.
Make it rewarding: Link the new behaviour to something that creates pride for that person.
This is where behaviour connects to values; you have to show people how behaving in these new ways will support what they value. For example, if someone deeply values having positive human interactions help them to see how behaving in a certain way toward customers will improve the interactions.
- Notice and celebrate positive results with colleagues and staff. Recognise procedures you have put in place that have resulted in a safer experience for customers.
- If customers give you positive feedback share it and celebrate it with each other.
- The PADI membership recognition programme also notices and celebrates when PADI professionals get positive feedback through attaboys certificates and member of the month awards. Connect with this programme by sending positive customer feedback with us at email@example.com.
- Have employee ‘Safe Diver of the Month’ awards for instructors and dive guides.
Normal: This is the way we always do it here
In order to change the way they behave, we need to feel that “people like me act this way, and people I admire act this way”. Human beings, for the most part, don’t want to be the odd person out. We are naturally wired to want to belong. Even people who consider themselves rebels tend to emulate rebels they admire! If we want employees, colleagues or divers around us to behave differently, we have to give them some evidence that their peers (at least the ones they like) and their role models are behaving in those ways.
- Make sure store owners, training managers and senior staff role model desired diving behaviours every time they dive.
- Have visual clues around the store that support the message that safe diving practices are “just what we do”.
- Establish keeping your mask in place and snorkel in your mouth on the surface as ‘normal’ diving behaviour (in the case of tech divers carrying a snorkel in the pocket).
- Manage gas safely. If your lower gas returning limit is 70 bar make sure all your diving leaders follow this rule themselves.
Many psychologists would say the only behaviour we can control is our own. This is true but when we have a level of responsibility for the safety of others we need to ensure that we do what we can do to minimise the risks.
Whether it’s our student divers or our fellow dive leaders, if we are wanting to influence others to dive safely, understanding the underpinning motivators that drive behaviour will assist us in making diving at our dive store as safe as possible.
Michelle Brunton, Manager Quality and Risk Management – PADI Asia Pacific.