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PT Notes

Leadership Skills for PHA Facilitators - Managing Teams

PT Notes is a series of topical technical notes on process safety provided periodically by Primatech for your benefit. Please feel free to provide feedback.

PHA studies are performed by teams of people working interdependently with mutual accountability for accomplishing study goals. PHA facilitators need to be aware of the impact of people on the quality of PHA studies. The outcomes of studies are influenced by how well team members work together and the contributions they make to studies.

Facilitators must understand the nature of groups to ensure PHA team success. In particular, facilitators must be able to manage the psychological and human factors that influence the quality of studies. In addition to capable leadership and the right technical team members, requirements for team success include good internal group processes and interpersonal relations, and a spirt of cooperation among team members. Of course, a supportive organization and sufficient resources are also needed.

A team of people is not just not just a collection of individuals; rather it is an entity in itself, It has its own characteristics and limitations. Team members become bonded. Group trust and identity are very important. They are developed through sharing goals. While some team members may enjoy being with other people, others may fear losing their individuality and autonomy, lacking contributions to make, exposure of their limitations, and being dominated by others. Facilitators must understand and be able to address such factors.

PHA studies involve intense brainstorming performed over extended time periods. They are complex, intellectually-demanding activities that place high demands on the cognitive resources of team members. These demands are almost always higher than in the normal work of team members, which increases the chance that errors will be made. To compound the problem, the work is often repetitive. Fatigue and boredom have to be combated and participants can become jaded, even in the face of the desire to do a good job. Also, human performance can fluctuate from day-to-day, even under normal circumstances. Thus, PHA studies are subject to various possible human failures influenced by psychological and human factors, which are major determinants of the quality of studies.

Examples of psychological factors include behavior, mental processes, decision making, and memory. Examples of human factors include insufficient skill or knowledge, memory lapse, fatigue, lack of or insufficient information, and poor communication. Psychological and human factors can impact each step in the performance of PHA studies. These factors can affect the functioning of the team leader and team members, and interactions between team members and with external personnel, e.g. managers.

People have a large impact on the quality of PHA studies. It is a major challenge for PHA facilitators to try and avoid the adverse impact of psychological and human factors on PHA studies. The first step in addressing these factors is to recognize and understand them so their management can be addressed proactively. Approaches for addressing key psychological and human factors will be discussed in future PT Notes.

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You may be interested in:

PHA Team Leader Course

PHAWorks Software

PHA certification

PHA consulting

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