HUMAN FACTORS CANADIAN COAST GUARD AUXILIARY - PACIFIC
Why Human Factors? • Since search and rescue units often have to perform their duties in adverse conditions, mishaps or errors are bound to happen. • These errors can sometimes have disastrous consequences. • Technical errors have been shown to be involved in less than 25% of accidents.
Human Error • In search and rescue terms this is when the wrong action or bad decision is not discovered and is uncorrected. • Inaction and indecision can also become human errors.
Profile of a Good SAR Team Individuals that are good at teamwork: 1. Communicate clearly and precisely 2. Accept challenges and know how to respond to them 3. Use appropriate short term strategies 4. Have the right balance between authority and assertiveness 5. Know how to control their workload
Profile of a Good SAR Team 6. Manage to find a balance between performance and people orientated styles 7. Can maintain an adequate level of alertness 8. Have sound judgement and, usually, good decision-making skills
Communication • This is a key factor, since misunderstandings are so common. • What may be a clear message transmitted by the one end, is not what is heard by the receivers. • Sometimes what is heard, is not what was said.
Communication • Communication has to be “open” in that everyone’s opinions are welcome. • They also need to be “interactive” which means everyone is participating in the communication process.
Communication • The next step is “closed loop communication”. 1. The sender sends the message. 2. The recipient acknowledges by repeating all the important information. 3. Finally the sender confirms the accuracy of what the recipient said.
Briefing • Briefings can minimize the risk of confusion and should be used when planning anything requiring active participation by another member of the team • The rules for briefing are: 1. Make the time 2. Be open and friendly 3. Anyone can conduct the briefing 4. The briefing must be interactive
Briefing 5. Define responsibilities 6. Use closed loop communications 7. Keep focused 8. Ensure that no question remains unanswered
Debriefings • A debriefing should conducted as soon after a mission as possible 1. The coxswain should conduct the debriefing and should indicate his mistakes first 2. Everybody should remain objective 3. Evaluate positive and negative aspects of your performance 4. Try to learn from your mistakes
Debriefings 5. Avoid finger-pointing. Talk about team performance 6. Keep the briefing interesting 7. Prepare plans for the next time you encounter a situation like this one 8. Keep a cordial, informal atmosphere
Challenge and Response • People who challenge can be seen as a problem in a team. • However some challenges can be useful, and it has been shown that a lack of challenges is involved in more than 30% of marine accidents.
Steps in a Challenge • Challenging a concept usually involves the following steps: 1. A concept is stated and limits are set 2. The situation progresses and moves outside the limits that were set 3. A challenge is issued 4. A proper response is formulated
Example of a Challenge Coxswain: “We will turn to port at the fourth red buoy.” Crew “Port at the fourth red buoy.” Coxswain “ That’s right!” Coxswain “OK - let’s turn to port now.” Crew “But … don’t we have to another buoy to pass before we turn?!” Coxswain “Oops, you’re right. One more buoy.”
Example of a Challenge Another example of where a challenge would be if your depth sounder showed 2 metres and the plotter showed 20 metres.
Taking Advantage of Challenges • Challenges should be allowed and welcomed in a team. • Always challenge when you feel you are moving outside the original concept. • Be diplomatic when you formulate a challenge.
Answering Challenges • Always check the validity of the challenge. Use a third source of information if necessary. • Be cautious, especially in emergency situations. The challenge may be valid. • Be diplomatic when you formulate a response to a challenge. Never laugh at or belittle or get angry with someone who has issued an invalid challenge - if you do so, the person may no longer challenge when you need it.
Obstacles to Challenges The challenger: • is a quiet person or lacks confidence • is not assertive. • puts the coxswain on a pedestal • does not understand something. • does not like responsibilities. • is involved with interpersonal conflicts. • has had bad experiences with inappropriate responses to previous challenges.
Obstacles to Challenges The receiver: • feels that their authority is threatened by challenges. • lacks confidence. • responds emotionally • has poor communication skills. • has poor management skills.
Short Term Strategies • Short term strategies are defined as plans that are developed to solve a particular problem, • They should be used where time permits to solve any problem that is not covered by standard operating procedures.
Short Term Strategies • They require: 1. Identify the problem. 2. Develop plans to deal with the problem. 3. Check the plans with the team in a briefing. 4. Explain the plan and get commitment. 5. Monitor the correct use of the plan. 6. Modify the plan if the conditions change or further information becomes available.
Authority and Assertiveness • The right level of authority needs to be found for each team. • To much authority can be a too little. • There two kinds of authority 1. Formal authority - coxswain or captain’ s authority 2. Personal authority - is that which makes people to listen to one’s suggestions - wisdom, professionalism, integrity, honesty and diplomacy
Authority and Assertiveness • Using formal authority to command attention should be avoided • Assertiveness - someone who is assertive is able to voice their concerns. Too much or too little assertiveness can be bad.
Authority and Assertiveness 1 Situation: Coxswain with strong authority and crew with weak assertiveness. • The strong authority of the coxswain will intimidate the crew. • This is a one person team.
Authority and Assertiveness 1 Coxswain: “Let’s go this way and take a shortcut” Crew “”But…” to express concern regarding shallow depth in this area. Coxswain: “I said we are going this way. What’s your problem?” Crew: “Nothing … sorry.”
Authority and Assertiveness 2 Situation: Coxswain with weak authority and crew with strong assertiveness. • This is probably the least dangerous of the four situations where the strong assertiveness of the crew compensates for the coxswain’s lack of authority.
Authority and Assertiveness 2 Coxswain: “You are leaving the channel if you go this way.” Crew “It doesn’t matter…. The water is deep enough.” Coxswain: “But … I would prefer if we could remain in the channel…” Crew: “I said it’s deep enough. It’s not the first time I’ve been this way.” Coxswain: “OK, OK, if you are so sure…”
Authority and Assertiveness 3 Situation: Coxswain with strong authority and crew with strong assertiveness. • This can cause serious conflicts amongst the team. • The coxswain and crew will argue constantly. • The coxswain may have to use his formal authority to end the altercation. • This situation is dangerous and stressful.
Authority and Assertiveness 3 Coxswain: “You are leaving the channel if you go this way.” Crew “It doesn’t matter.The water is deep enough.” Coxswain: “I don’t want you to leave the channel - is that clear?” Crew: “Read my lips: IT IS DEEP ENOUGH FOR US TO GO IN THERE.” Coxswain: “I am in command here, so do as I say.”
Authority and Assertiveness 4 Situation: Coxswain with weak authority and crew with weak assertiveness. • This is the probably the most dangerous situation, as no one is willing to take the necessary decisions or actions.
Authority and Assertiveness Coxswain: “I’m not sure, but I think we just left the channel.” Crew “Should I slow down?” Coxswain: “I don’t know… Wait… I can’t find our position…” Crew: “You got it?” Coxswain: “Not yet .. Let’s wait a bit .. We should see something that will help us.” Crew: “OK,…”
Authority and Assertiveness • None of the 4 situations are ideal, so be vigilant for the situation forming. • If you want someone to become assertive, the appropriate working environment needs to be created - it may be necessary to lower the level of authority. • If you want someone to be less assertive, you may want to increase authority (increasing personal authority is better than formal authority).
Management Styles • The management style of the coxswain can have a profound effect on the behaviour , performance and well being of a team. • The following approach to analyzing this is based on performance and people
Management Style 1 Tiger Style • High on Performance / Low on People Characteristic Effect on the Team Believes in performance Silent team low level of communication Often has too much authority Low assertiveness of team members Has a high opinion of themselves No challenges Does not care about what others may think Performance may decline Does not care about teamwork Team morale may get low Great leader in crisis Team members will not take many Takes full responsibility for their decisions initiatives Is loyal to the team Does not like challenges May have a tendency to do or control everything Does not delegate easily
Management Style 2 Penguin Style • Low on Performance / High on People Characteristic Effect on the Team Is a good listener Friendly and calm working atmosphere Forgives easily, probably to avoid conflicts General lowering of professional standards Is always positive, even when results are False feeling of adequacy on the team unsatisfactory, and learning opportunities are lost because of this lack of objectivity Believe that people are more important than Team members that are high on performance. If people are well treated, performance might get annoyed they will necessarily do a good job. Little training is done with the team Like to talk with everybody; has a tendency Leader does not command respect to accept lower professional standards so because of inability to provide objective that everybody can do well and constructive feedback
Management Style 3 Snail Style • Low on Performance / Low on People Characteristic Effect on the Team Serious lack of motivation All effects are negative Is not really interested in their job Worst management style Has a tendency to to do the minimum Low team morale Avoids conflicts Professional standards can get dangerously Has a low opinion of their own capabilities low and those of the team Very little training is done Has low professional standards, both personally and for the team Poor communicator and weak authority Does not use short term strategies Can often hide personal ineptitude by avoiding risks
Management Style 4 Sheep Style • Average on Performance / Average on People Characteristic Effect on the Team Adapts quite well to surroundings Promising management style Generally accepts challenges Everyone feels something is missing Communication is good but no excellent Team morale is good, but could be better Concerned by performance but not enough Team performances are good but not May compromise performance or team morale excellent to achieve personal goals Average training Occasionally uses short term strategies
Management Style 5 Dolphin Style • High on Performance / High on People Characteristic Effect on the Team Combines the best of tiger and penguin Best management style Is capable of adjusting personal style to any Training is a priority situation Excellent team morale Good communications and briefings Team is confident Accepts challenges easily All members of the team have good self Almost always uses good short term esteem strategies Professional standards are very high No problem delegating Team members are motivated Knows strengths and weaknesses of team members Believes it it is always possible to do better
Management Styles • The ideal management style is the dolphin, but other styles do have some advantages. • In a emergency, the tiger style may be ideal for creating order out of chaos. • On the other hand, with inexperienced people it may be good to be more of a penguin. • During periods of low activity a sheep may even be adequate.
Management Styles • If you feel that your coxswain is not an ideal manager, you as crew can help this change. • If your coxswain is a tiger, try and persuade them that their performance would increase with less authority. • If your coxswain is penguin, emphasize that you would feel better if the team performance improved. • A sheep will probably understand both arguments