Kevin Burns, Calgary-based safety speaker

PeopleWork BlogStrategies To Build Personal Leadership In Safety

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7 Essential Parts Of Safety Leadership

Posted by Kevin Burns

Feb 14, 2018 4:00:00 PM

Asking which traits make a good safety leader is like asking which auto parts make the best car.

A question was posed by a safety person asking what are the traits that make up safety leaders? Asking which traits make a good safety leader is like asking which auto parts make the best car. Is it parts that make a customer choose BMW over a Mercedes or a Dodge Ram over a Chevy Silverado? Nope. Not parts. It’s the whole package.

A car is tangible. You can see it, touch it, smell it, hear it and drive it. It is a thing you control when you are behind the wheel. Leadership, of the safety variety, is much the same except you can’t see it, touch it, smell it or hear it. But you can drive it.

Having a collection of car parts on your front lawn is useless. Having those parts assembled by a skilled technician is what makes it a car. Leadership traits mean nothing unless assembled by a skilled technician. Then, the collection of parts must be driven by a proficient driver.

Leadership is not a position. It is an attitude. Management is the position. One has nothing to do with the other. Safety too is an attitude. It is a state of mind and a way of living your life.

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Topics: safety attitude, safety leadership, safety buy-in

3 Must-Dos For Better Safety Meetings

Posted by Kevin Burns

Dec 13, 2017 9:30:00 AM

If safety meetings are not fun or engaging for attendees, they won’t remember what was discussed. So streamline your meetings in 2018.

Part of the overall strategy for safety communication and meetings should be a requirement to avoid mind-numbing and boring your people whenever possible. Maybe that idea a lone could be your personal mission for 2018. Look, we know it's tough especially when the subject-matter or presenters are boring. So the idea is to find ways to step outside the 'boring and predicatble" safety meeting.

Make it a plan for employees to engage and stay sharp. That means getting rid of boring statistics, figures, graphs and performance chart that you can lay your hands on at them in one meeting. Put it this way, if your safety meeting presentation includes charts and graphs, you're out of ideas. And more importantly, out of touch.

Once upon a time, you attended a boring safety meeting. But that doesn't give you license to do the same to your crews. PowerPoint is the seventh pit of hell. It's Corporate Karaoke – the word-for-word, sing-along regurgitation of every thought in a presenter’s head posted on a slide in tiny font type. Your people disengage from the safety meeting the moment you put up a slide with seven lines of type with some boring blue background.

You've got to make safety engaging. If it’s not fun or engaging for attendees, they won’t remember it. When people engage, they remember. That's a key learning nugget for you to take into the New Year and to help you plan better safety meetings. 

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Topics: safety speaker, safety leadership, kevin burns, safety meeting, engagement, safety marketing, safety manager, selling safety, peoplework

Why Safety Leadership Matters

Posted by Kevin Burns

Dec 6, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Safety leadership is about putting leadership skills into the hands of the people who are responsible for safety.

What’s that got to do with me? That is one of the first questions you ask yourself before you commit to doing something, or volunteering for something. You want to see the direct benefit back to you. Even in charitable giving you get a win. That’s why you do it.

Employees respond better to those things in their work where they can see the benefit of their own full participation. Show the employee his or her win and you will get their engagement. Safety is included in that.


Cut through the clutter

Everyone is busy. There are more than enough people asking for your attention and making demands on you each day. You have to be picky about the things that you give your attention to. You do not have an unlimited amount of energy or time. That’s why books and videos and articles and videos on safety get your attention. You have responsibilities in safety. You want resources that help you perform better at safety. Easy peasy. You pick the resources that speak directly to what you’re trying to do. There’s a win for you.

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Topics: safety attitude, safety leadership, kevin burns, safety management, safety buy-in, safety communications, safety leader podcast,, safety blog, peoplework, accelerate safety

5 Way to Improve Teamwork in Safety

Posted by Kevin Burns

Nov 29, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Safety leaders know that the safety performance is more than a reflection of the leader. It is a team effort of commitment to a common goal.

It’s called safety management for a reason. It is made up of two parts: safety and management. The best safety processes and procedures can still fail in the absence of good management. You may know processes and procedures like the back of your hand. But now, you must get more familiar in driving better team safety performance.

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Topics: safety speaker, safety leadership, kevin burns, safety supervisor, peoplework, safety teamwork

Top 4 Strategies To Improve Safety Buy-in

Posted by Kevin Burns

Nov 22, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Great safety performance doesn't happen by accident (pardon the pun). Well, it can happen for a little while by accident but it cannot sustain. There needs to be a wholistic approach taken to safety. Ensuring that front line supervisors get decent management and supervisory skills can create better performance. Add solid, interactive safety meetings, and safety messaging that builds a positive reinforcement of safety and you build better motivation for employees to want to be involved. 

But, where does buy-in start? It starts in the relationship between employee and direct supervisor or safety person. In almost every instance, once an employee buys-in to their immediate boss, they are more likely to buy-in to what their boss is saying. When an employee has developed respect for their immediate boss, they are more willing to be influenced by that person. We allow ourselves to be influenced by the voices of those people we respect.

Supervisors without trust and respect are neither trusted nor respected. It's tough to convince people that safety is good for them if you don't have the employee's trust and respect. You have no influence without trust and respect. You may have authority but that doesn't translate into influence.

Group meetings called to address and fix individual behaviors is dangerous. That's like trying to address one person's time management skills by forcing the entire staff into a time management course. It punishes those who are doing it right, it demotivates the rest of the staff and it makes people want to hate safety.

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Topics: safety speaker, safety leadership, kevin burns, safety meeting, safety buy-in, safety marketing, safety manager, safety training, safety incidents, peoplework

How to Improve Safety Culture Without Management Support

Posted by Kevin Burns

Nov 15, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Without management’s public endorsement of safety you can still build a strong safety culture.

It doesn’t happen often. But occasionally, I get a call to help out in convincing a few key members of the senior management team of safety’s importance. The first question I ask is whether the senior managers are actively preventing employees from buying-in to the safety program or purposely undermining the safety program in any way? No is always the answer.

And so, we discuss options to improve teamwork in safety at the front-line, build a more robust safety culture at the front-line and make the safety program more attractive for senior managers to want to be part of it.

Senior management does not need to be gushing about their undying support of safety in order for safety to become more prominent. Don't worry that senior management does not appear to be supporting safety. Without management’s public endorsement of safety you can still build a strong safety culture. Oh, sure, it might be easier to get buy-in from employees if management is on-board. But it’s not impossible. It’s just going to take a little more work.

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Topics: safety speaker, kevin burns, safety culture, safety management, safety supervisor, peoplework, accelerate safety

How Production And Safety Work Together

Posted by Kevin Burns

Nov 8, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Why aren’t production and safety working out of the same office yet? Start with the common ground between safety and production.

Companies associate the success of operations with efficiency, productivity and profits. And it's easy to measure. In safety, success is determined by a complex formula ending in TRIR rates and with the prevention of occupational injury and illness. How do you make these two necessary parts of a company work together if they are not even measuring the same things?

Production and safety blame the other for either slowing work down. Safety gets compromised when there is a push on for greater production. Operations blame safety for slowing down production. Neither wants to be wrong. Both want to be right.

(Note: if you still believe that safety holds up production, you are probably in the wrong job.)

Why aren’t production and safety measuring success the same way let alone working out of the same office? And whose bright idea was it to let the two coexist separately? In order for production/operations and safety to work better together, they have to first establish the common ground. Neither side wants to see anyone get hurt and both sides want the company to have success. That is the common ground. 

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Topics: safety speaker, safety leadership, kevin burns, safety culture, safety management, safety buy-in, safety manual, safety values, peoplework, accelerate safety

How to Promote Safety Positively

Posted by Kevin Burns

Nov 1, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Be positive about your safety program and the way it helps to protect and value your good people.

Promote. A scary word for safety people and supervisors. For the ones who don’t understand what it means, it feels disingenuous. But to promote something is to advance a cause or a program; to support it or to actively encourage. So when you tell your people to be safe, you are promoting safety. When you erect posters as safety reminders, you are promoting safety. When you hold a safety meeting, you are promoting safety. When you recognize good behaviors, you are promoting safety. And in order to build a solid safety culture, we cannot do it without promoting safety.

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Topics: safety leadership, kevin burns, safety meeting, safety marketing, positive safety,, peoplework

3 Ways to Improve The Effectiveness of Your Safety Program

Posted by Kevin Burns

Oct 25, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Good employees who have special skills and talent take pride in their work and they protect that pride by engaging in safety.

Without getting into long descriptions, good workplace safety culture is the result of attitudes and personal and corporate values aligning. If apathy in the workplace exists, little care will be given to safety. When the quality of the work is “good enough,” apathy in safety exists. If employees think it's a lousy place to work, then safety will take a back seat. Poor safety attitudes will impede becoming a top performer. That reflects in both safety and financial performance. A broken safety culture will have an impact on overall corporate performance.

You cannot change the safety culture without addressing the underlying attitudes and values. Attitudes, values and culture drive everything.

A 2013 study states that “when organizations have engaged workers, they are 18 percent more productive than their competitors, 12 percent more profitable, have 22 percent higher-than-average shareholder returns, and have employees who are 57 percent more effective and 87 percent less likely to leave.”

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Topics: safety speaker, safety leadership, kevin burns, safety promotion, safety culture, safety effectiveness, peoplework

3 Key Safety Responsibilities for Employees

Posted by Kevin Burns

Oct 18, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Every employee has responsibilities in safety. The biggest of which is to ensure that you protect yourself.

There is a lot of talk of safety leadership, complacency, accountability and responsibility on the job these days. At the same time, there is less discussion about compliance measures, rules, regulation, etc. And although there is still much work to be done in safety, we’re starting to change the conversation. Workplaces that are becoming more people-focused is good news.

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Topics: safety leadership, kevin burns, safety culture, safety accountability, positive safety,, safety commitment, safety engagement, peoplework, accelerate safety, safety responsibility

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