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TAKING THE DIGITAL ROUTE IN UNDERGROUND MINING
Monday, 15 November 2021
While leadership development at the top management levels of the mining sector tends to be well-researched and better resourced, there is a burning need to build the capacity of the industry’s supervisory levels.
This is according to Tony Pretorius – Education, Training and Development (ETD) Executive, Murray & Roberts Cementation, who unpacked what this means in real terms for the mining industry.
“This is particularly important in the arena of safety, where significant gains can be made if production teams are imbued – through good leadership – with a daily commitment to safe working practices,” Pretorius explains. “It is clear to most forward-thinking businesses today that organisational culture underpins positive results; as importantly, it is also accepted that such a culture must be driven by leadership.”
He says there can, however, be barriers to the effectiveness of leadership. This presents as a kind of ‘permafrost’ at certain levels within an organisation, and the quality of supervisory skills can be vital in preventing this barrier from forming. To help address this, the field of neuroscience has been one of the most exciting themes running through training and development in recent years.
Supervisory training programmes can leverage neuroscience by giving learners a better understanding of how the brain interprets the information it receives. It gives supervisors insight into how this information is ‘translated’ – based on how learners feel and on their level of emotional intelligence. It considers, for instance, the importance of personality types, their respective strengths and weaknesses, and the ways that negative emotions can undermine team performance.
The next important step, he says, is to consolidate the value of this training into the organisation’s performance management system. This means refining key performance indicators to hold supervisors accountable. Such as approach ensures that new skills are applied and strengthened, rather than lost through lack of use, and can be measured by their impact in the workplace.
“In many ways, performance management has been the weak link in the chain – although it is critical to changing the way that leaders behave. Only with this kind of change will industry see further improvements in operational safety,” he says.
The role of senior management is, of course, an integral part of this journey to instil a culture of safety. In addition to the company’s interventions in supervisor development, Murray & Roberts Cementation is also working with the University of Pretoria to gear its top leadership teams for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, including a programme focused on human factors in safety risk.
Pretorius says that the honing of skills by both managers and supervisors has an added benefit: it leads to more fruitful engagement between these two levels, building the organisational culture and the way that key company messages find their way into behaviour patterns.
“As a company, Murray & Roberts Cementation accepts that we work in a hazardous environment. However, we believe that zero incidents are achievable, as is zero harm. Safety is not just a priority but a value, and our focus is on empowering people to manage risk.”
“In the end, safe production brings gains and efficiencies in time, cost and quality – giving companies a range of bottom-line benefits deriving from smooth operations and from delivering projects according to plan and specification,” Pretorius concludes.