Chapter 5. Organizational Capacity and Competency

A well-implemented ESMS is ultimately about trained, committed people. How do you make that happen?


First, you need senior management commitment. Senior management commitment starts with adopting the ESMS policies, but it must go beyond that. Senior management support is critical to implementing a sustainable ESMS. It is the responsibility of senior management to lead the effort. They don’t have to lead the effort on a day-to-day basis, but they do need to send a clear message, to all employees at all levels, that this is a long-term commitment by your company.

Beyond senior management commitment, you need a team that takes responsibility for the ESMS. This does not need to be a full-time job for anyone, but senior management needs to ensure realignment of reporting duties, allocation of appropriate time and authority to carry out the work involved.

A well-balanced ESMS Team is a prerequisite for a meaningful engagement with your peers and colleagues. It should include knowledgeable professionals from environment, health and safety operations, operations or production, contracts and purchasing, human resources and labor, for example.

The ESMS Team should not work in isolation. It should consult with colleagues from other departments and existing teams (e.g., fire safety team, health and safety committee) when identifying risks and impacts, developing improved procedures, designing actions plans, etc. To be truly effective, the ESMS Team needs to consult with people from all levels of the company, including workers, supervisors and managers.

The success of a management system depends on departments that have traditionally been seen as beyond the reach of environmental and social issues, such as human resources, production, procurement and maintenance. For example, human resources manages training needs related to the labor aspects, production focuses on the more efficient use of resources and the reduction of waste, procurement manages the qualifications and performance of suppliers and contractors, and maintenance ensures that the equipment runs efficiently and that spills, leaks and other emergency situations are minimized.

As with the overall management system, the team should be scaled to the size and complexity of your company. Your organization might not have multiple separate departments with distinct roles; maybe a few people cover several functions. The key is to involve people from across the range of functions.

suitcasesmall.jpg Take a look at the Toolkit item Roadmap and Time Estimate for Developing and Implementing an ESMS in the Toolkit and Case Studies for a list and sequencing of activities to develop and implement an ESMS.


Once the ESMS Team is selected, they need to select a team leader. This is an important role, especially in the beginning. The team leader needs to set the tone for the group and keep people motivated. All new initiatives in a company face hurdles, and developing and implementing an ESMS is no exception. The team leader needs to help the team overcome the inevitable hurdles, and should have direct access to senior management.

When selecting a team leader, look for someone who has the following qualities:

- communicator;

- problem-solver;

- project manager;

- pragmatic; and

- respectful to all.



Now that you have identified the actions to be taken and updated your procedures, you need trained, committed people who follow the ESMS procedures. This is the end goal of communication and training.

There are three key steps that build on each other:

1. They need to be aware of the ESMS.

• What is it?

• What are its goals?

• What do I need to do?

2. They need to understand that the ESMS is necessary and will improve the company.

• How does this help our company?

• How does it help my department?

• What will change?

• What is in it for me?

3. They need to obtain the skills and knowledge to be effective in their roles.

• What are the new policies and procedures?

• What exactly do I need to do?

• How do I do that?

• What will happen if I don’t do it?

Your ESMS Team needs detailed training so they can develop the necessary knowledge and skills. They will need to understand the basics of the Plan-Do Check-Act cycle and know the nine elements of an ESMS. This Handbook provides the information they will need, but additional help may be necessary. In addition to the detailed training of the team, everyone will need to receive awareness training so there is a shared understanding of the goals of the ESMS. The chapters in this Handbook provide an easy way to structure efficient general training. You can give everybody an overview about what you have learned here about developing and implementing an ESMS. You may also need to provide training that is specifically related to your Action Plan and new operating procedures. Examine the specific actions and who is going to be involved. This is a quick way to determine what training will be needed by the various departments and people in your company. Ask yourself what knowledge and skills people need to effectively implement new procedures, carry out allocated responsibilities and complete the action plan.

suitcasesmall.jpg Use the Toolkit item Training Plan Worksheet as template and tie it to your Action Plans and improved procedures.


<Go to ESMS Implementation Handbook Main Page

<Go back to Chapter 4. Case Studies

>Proceed to Chapter 6. Emergency Preparedness and Response