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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
To improve employee participation in the safety program, clear communications are key.
If you are going to communicate something in safety, what do you want to have happen? How exactly do you want your people to participate?
Informing people isn’t enough anymore. Your people are already bombarded with, on average, four thousand marketing messages each day. Everywhere they look, they are getting access to another message – competing with your safety message - even as recently as this morning.
But let's say that you are above-average in compelling and engaging your people’s attention during a morning safety meeting, as soon as they leave the meeting, they are faced with hundreds more messages that all compete for attention. So, to combat this, you have to be clear.
It seems like your people don't care about safety, but they do. Yes, your people do care about safety. They just don't care the way you care about it, because they see safety differently than you do.
Everyone cares about something. However, what's appealing and motivating to you is not always appealing and motivating to someone else. Your goals for safety improvement may be important to you, but your people need to have a benefit in working harder to reach those goals.
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.