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.
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.
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.
A safety system by itself doesn't make the organization any safer.
Driving instructors have a system for teaching people to drive. Sports coaches have a system for improving player performance. Almost everything in this world has a system. There’s even a system for generating your paycheck. But, the system doesn't pay out unless someone tells it to.
If you want people to care about safety, you have to first care about them.
I was working with a group of minesite supervisors and we were discussing the needs of employees and how a supervisor can make sure that employee needs were being met. I asked this question: how can you show your employees that, as supervisors, you care?
Here are some of the responses:
Give good communication
Improve your listening skills
Be respectful of their needs
Engage them in problem-solving
Recognize employees for their good work
Take a time-out with employees
Help employees to re-focus
Show support for your people especially when they need it.
All good answers. In fact, a lot of necessary answers. But the answer that wasn’t mentioned was, perhaps, too obvious. It is the one thing that supervisors, managers, safety people, executives, and even fellow workers must do to show their fellow employees that they care.
Are you meeting the needs of your people in safety meetings?
How many times have you seen presenters, with 10 minutes of solid information, stretch it into a 90-minute presentation? How does that happen? Here’s how. The person organizing the safety meeting is trying to fill blocks of time instead of developing content that will make a difference to their people.
If you want to change safety performance, you have to change the approach and the conversation.
In safety, there are no trade secrets. The same set of rules apply to every company within an industry. Construction safety applies to all builders. Mining safety is the same for every mine. Electrical safety is the same for every electrician. Whatever your industry, your competitors don’t get a leg up because they have different rules to play by. Everyone has the same rules and the same code.
If you want your people to care, do and say the things that matter to them.
Why won't people just follow the safety rules? Why don't they speak up at meetings or take the paperwork seriously? Tough questions to ask if you’re a supervisor or safety person trying to get their people to care about safety. But, here's the good news: you can make people care about safety.
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.