Training supervisors to tackle procedural non-compliance

All organisations face the challenge of improving compliance. For many, the challenge is increased by the nature of the workforce, which may be both constantly changing, and working away from a fixed location. In such circumstances, there is significant reliance on local supervision to control the work, and instil the necessary culture and attitudes. For such organisations, it’s apparent that the local supervisor is a key element in any compliance enhancement process.

The Supervisor Development Centre focuses on providing supervisors with the leadership and supervisory skills to ensure they can effectively identify, challenge and rectify team procedural non-compliance while on site and thus improve the overall safety of operations.

The Centre looks at procedural non-compliance relating both to occupational health and safety and to process safety. A key element of the approach is to use picture-based and live mock-up scenarios to help supervisors practice their skills and allow an assessment of competence to take place, which can feed into on-going competence management arrangements.

The overall approach recognises that each supervisor comes not only with different levels of ‘compliance management competence’, but also with different interpersonal skills and approaches. Consequently the development centre is oriented around enabling participants to understand and recognise their own strengths and limitations, as well as recognising positive and negative behaviours in the staff they are supervising.

This paper discusses the development and implementation of the Supervisor Development Centre. The paper will briefly summarise the background to the development of the Centre, detail the methodology used to identify relevant competencies and training requirements, describe the Centre aims and content and finally provide some indication of the value of the Centre, based on anecdotal participant feedback. It will draw out the implications for any organisation that wishes to enhance compliance.


Procedural compliance is an essential element of safety management, in terms of occupational health and safety and process safety and business management, in terms of improving performance, enhancing reputation and reducing costs (i.e. costs associated with re-work, damage to materials and other assets, and those that can arise from incidents and accidents).

However the effective management of procedural compliance is a significant challenge and organisations need solutions that provide long-term sustainable improvement. To do this, there needs to be a move away from focusing solely on surface issue solutions such as procedural and task re-design and start to consider how an organisation can foster and install positive safety behaviours in their teams. Indeed for this to occur the local supervisor becomes a key element in the enhancement of compliance, as for many organisations, site teams change regularly and work away from a fixed location.

© IChemE 2011