Leadership in Change Management: Highlights of AIHce EXP 2020 Sessions

2020 0204 oeb virtual conference

In times of change, a leader’s many responsibilities include rallying workers and employees at all levels; as humans naturally tend to dread change, they look to trusted authority figures for guidance on how to act in the new, uncertain circumstances. As an industrial hygienist (IH), you will likely both inspire change and serve as a model for dealing with change at several points in your career. However, these soft skills aren’t taught in any textbook. As such, it may be difficult for IHs to learn the skills to manage and inspire change until they are tested by real-life circumstances. AIHce EXP 2020, which will be fully virtual this year to account for the global COVID-19 pandemic, offers multiple sessions related to the topics of leadership and change management, providing IHs chances grow their skills in the area.

Monday, June 1

At 8:00 a.m. the virtual conference will open with a general session by keynote speaker René Rodriguez titled, “Harnessing the Power of Courage.” Setting the tone for the rest of the conference, Rodriguez will share a simple model that anyone can use to harness the power of courage and reframe adversity. The session will draw on findings from neuroscientific research to empower participants to become leaders in the face of change.

Later Monday morning, Jason Kunz, MS, CIH, CSP and Justin Hoover, MS, CSP will present a session titled, “Why We Can, Must, and Will Become Better Leaders,” aimed at strengthening IHs’ leadership abilities. Surveys from employers indicate that they want their IH professionals to show strong leadership and communication skills in addition to providing technical expertise.

Conflict management is possibly the most important element of leadership—particularly during times of uncertainty, when emotions are running high. Participants aiming to build their skills in this area can take part in “Conflict Management Skills for OEHS Professionals,” a session guided by a conflict resolution coach, in which several case studies specific to IHs will be examined to see how better outcomes can be reached. In the same 4:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. time block, a separate session titled, “A Former Front Line Supervisor’s Lessons on Selling Safety,” tackles a challenge commonly reported by safety professionals and front line supervisors, that of successfully persuading employees to follow safety procedures.

As IHs advance in their careers, their role as leaders will shift. “Climbing the Professional Ladder—A Glimpse into Different IH Leadership Roles in Industry” will analyze the career development of several industrial hygiene leaders.

Tuesday, June 2

The second day of virtual sessions opens with several presentations on topics related to challenges IHs might face in their positions as both technical experts and organizational leaders, such as mental health, switching to the new ISO 45001 standard, and implementing total worker health programs.

At 2:00 p.m., Alan Rossner, Ph, PhD, CIH will moderate a session titled, “How Health and Safety Professionals Can Help Avoid Panic and Confusion in the Face of Uncertainty.” As mentioned above, humans as a group tend to dislike and resist change and uncertainty; this session aims to teach IHs the skills to reduce workers’ dread of unfamiliar situations and prevent sensitive issues from developing into chaos.

Influencing Skills for HSE Professionals” takes places later in the afternoon, at 3:15 p.m. Noting that many IHs lack the skills to convince senior management to tackle issues or approve critical programs, the presenters of this session aim to teach participants about the most common influencing techniques, and how to use them successfully. These skills help IHs take the lead at times when their technical expertise is critically needed.

On Tuesday evening, “Emotional Intelligence/Self-Awareness Concepts for OEHS Professionals” builds upon AIHA’s “Introduction to Emotional Intelligence (aka Emotional Quotient)” and “Communicating With Impact” webinars. Guided by an emotional intelligence coach, the participants will examine a series of case studies of situations that IHs may find themselves in while dealing with coworkers, supervisors, vendors, and regulatory agencies, with the goal of building self-awareness. With this knowledge, IHs will be better equipped to disagree constructively with their peers, potentially making them more effective as leaders.

Wednesday, June 3

Decision Making in Managing Risk—Navigating the Prickly and Paradoxical” aims to teach participants skills to improve decision-making while managing organizational risk. Recognizing that risk is complicated, participants will leave this session knowing how to assess and close the gaps between their decision-making skills and their organization’s needs and expectations. In such delicate circumstances, IHs benefit from having a framework of knowledge to fall back on, preserving their ability to act as a rallying point for their peers.

Many IHs intend to use their additional time at home to focus on personal and professional development. Although AIHce EXP will not be happening live this year, IHs can still participate from the safety of their homes. If any of the sessions mentioned above appeal to you, check out our registration price ranges for members and nonmembers alike. Also, search the entire virtual conference agenda to view the entire wealth of sessions available if you are interested in expanding your skill set even beyond opportunities for leadership development.