What employees want from the job can change your culture.
In my last post (When Employees Don't Give You Safety Performance), I presented an overview of what employees want from their supervisors and immediate managers. This time around, we are going to take a look at what employees want from their jobs. Because if they don’t get what they want from their job, why would you expect them to give their best effort, especially in safety?
If they’re not giving you safety, it’s because you’re not giving them what they want.
To paraphrase a quote, the secret to getting what you want is to help enough other people get what they want. Zig Ziglar said that. He wasn’t wrong. Help enough other people get a win for themselves and they are more likely to help you get your win.
Effective workplaces are those places where employees feel valued, cared for and protected.
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.
What if instead of guilt and fear and manipulation tactics, you simply cared?
When you really think about it, there are only two main ways to get people to join in your safety program and for them to buy-in to the idea of safety: you can either manipulate or inspire. Either you pull on the heartstrings to try to guilt them into following rules, or you help them flip that internal switch that kicks-in their motivation and fires up their personal leadership capacity. Before you decide, know this: manipulation does not create leaders.
Don’t waste your one-on-one time with your people enforcing rules.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. When employees buy-in to safety, you don’t need to police them anymore. Where you once spent a great deal of time on enforcement, you can now replace with coaching and mentoring. Trust me when I say, coaching and mentoring is infinitely more satisfying.
Focus on the plan to improve the things you're not already doing. Not the goal.
Once upon a time, in the mid-90’s, I was working in a sales job. At the start of each month, our sales manager would assemble all the sales reps in a room and ask each of us for our specific sales goal for the month. He wasn't asking us what our plan was to make more sales. He was asking for a number.
What if your "one thing" was to make a difference?
There are no such things as priorities. You can have a priority; one. But you can’t have more than one priority. Besides, it’s not a priority if it competes for attention with other priorities. You can have a lot of things that are important, or urgent or critical. But there is room for only one priority. It is that one priority that you can build a company, an ideal or a movement around.
The M4 Method is meant to directly help supervisors and safety people build on-the-job relationships that support safety from the ground up.
Focus on enforcement and your people are focused on rules. Focus on helping people integrate safety into their lives and they focus on being part of the safety solution. Different tactic, different outcome. But so much time, effort, and money is wasted on enforcement tactics because so little time is spent on encouraging employees to buy into safety. The energy spent on enforcement could be better spent building teamwork, morale, and camaraderie.
A team that has adopted safety as a personal value is better equipped to make the kinds of decisions on the job to ensure safety. Instead of mere compliance with procedures, programming, and production, a safety-oriented crew draws from a deep well of mutual caring and connection. When crews themselves become safety leaders, the need for safety cops disappears. What you have instead is a team of solid safety leaders who perform and produce at a higher level.
In my book PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety, I present The M4 Method for improved safety culture. It’s a way of integrating people into the strategy of building solid safety programs. The M4 Method is meant to directly help supervisors and safety people build on-the-job relationships that support safety from the ground up.
The M4 Method marries four critical components to achieve the next level of your organizational safety culture:
Motivation plays a role in engagement and, subsequently, safety.
As a front-line safety person or supervisor, you have tremendous impact on employee motivation. The words you use, your facial expressions, and your demeanor all speak without words on how much you value the people you work with.
People can feel when they are not valued. People can read between the lines of what their bosses think about them. And when you work for someone like that, it’s tough to find your own motivation to do your best. After all, if you don’t feel valued, why bother?
Championship sports teams value their team mates. They play as one. They value each other. They recognize each other’s strengths. They depend on their team mates and their coaches. They are in-sync. And when that happens, motivation to give their very best performance is high.
When an employee lacks motivation, there is a corresponding reduction in engagement. That affects productivity. Without motivation to give their best, an employee will be more apt to take shortcuts. Shortcuts impact safety. Keep employees focused, engaged and motivated to do their very best. It can build a team of high-performers willing to value themselves and each other. The best way to protect their value is by ensuring each others’ safety.
Motivation plays a clear role in engagement and, subsequently, safety. Here are four ways you can improve the motivation of your team:
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.