To perform at the highest levels of safety starts with a shift in mindset.
How well does your crew work as a team? Let’s think about the context of that question in relation to safety. There isn’t a safety person or supervisor that doesn’t believe deep down that their crew could be working a little better as a team in safety. The key here, is in your willingness to do something about it.
If you want your crew to be more effective in how they come together and look out for each other, then there is one thing you, as their leader, need to get them to do.
Provide a clear and concise vision of where your crew is headed.
What's your vision for safety? And don't say "no one gets hurt." That's not a vision - it is a hope strategy - fingers crossed that no one actually does get hurt.
Face it, if you're a supervisor, foreman, manager or executive, you're in a leadership role. You're in charge. That means the responsibility for the performance and safety of the team is yours.
As a leader, there is one thing you need to get right, and it will solve problems in so many other areas: you need to provide your people with a clear vision and direction. You need to tell them where you're headed. Every member of your team wants to know where the team is going.
You may cover the check-boxes but you need to ensure employees are going to give safety their attention and focus.
Is yours a check-box safety culture? Or a check-in safety culture? What’s the difference? A check-box safety culture is just what the name implies. You go through the checklists and check off the items that you have completed.
Have you fallen into the trap of making statements instead of asking questions?
Selling safety to crews can seem overwhelming. Getting your people to see and understand what you see and understand can be frustrating, especially when you don’t achieve the success you think you should have.
You need to connect with employees in driving the things that are important to them.
You feel like you’re saying the right things in safety. Some days your safety performance is great. Other days, you wonder if your team was listening at all. And it frustrates you that just when you seem to be making steps forward, a dumb little incident shows up.
This is where you can change it up.
You need a safety message that resonates, at the right time, saying the right thing so that every employee is working toward common goals in safety. And the goals are not numbers. Stop pitching numbers to your people. Numbers don’t inspire better performance.
Asking people to think safety doesn’t help; it makes the frustration feel worse.
What part of safety do you want to fix? You will have a problem answering that question specifically. It will frustrate you that you cannot seem to articulate the exact part of safety that you want to fix. And if you feel some frustration, you will better understand why your people have a difficult time also fixing safety, or even rallying around it.
By implementing an internal marketing strategy for safety, employees are treated as critical stakeholders who must be convinced of a company's safety vision.
To get employees to buy-in to safety, you need a consistent and compelling message that resonates with your people. And, to be clear, a compelling message is not some safety slogan you downloaded from the Internet. Don’t just take something you think is clever that someone else came up with and turn it into posters all over your workplace. You’ve got to understand what resonates with your team.
You need the right message, at the right time, to the right people so that every employee is working toward common goals in safety.
You’re planning a safety stand-down, safety event, safety day, whatever you want to call it. I’ll stick with stand-down. So, you’ve set aside your dates, got a budget from your senior managers and you’re busy making plans for what you are going to do for your stand-down. Now, before you plan any further, I want to pass along some advice that will make your stand-down be much more effective.
You have got to set aside time each day for your own tools and skills development.
Let’s start by saying that I have dedicated plenty of space to identifying the “traits of safety leaders” in past Blog posts. And as important as the traits of safety leaders are, the tools they use to develop those traits is even more important.
Good safety leaders are respected. And safety leaders understand the simple premise that “staff don’t work for you, you work for them.” The point of leadership is to help other grow. So when we see inexperienced or even wrong-thinking supervisors flexing their authority muscles at employees, you wonder how long a disliked and disrespected supervisor or safety person is going to last?
Employees want to have a reason to respect the supervisor and the safety person. And, even though that supervisor might now have a lot of experience, employees will respect a supervisor who admits that they are working on it.
In PeopleWork, Kevin Burns presents his M4 Method of people-centered management for safety. Practical, how-to steps that frontline supervisors and safety people can master to promote a relationship-based culture focused on mentoring, coaching, and inspiring teams.