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3 Tips To Building A Positive Legacy In Safety

The legacy you create in safety must be on-purpose.

Legacy02.jpgLegacy. It’s what you leave behind after you're gone. You want a purposeful legacy. Those ones are positive. The legacy you leave behind by accident is usually a negative one.

No one will remember the safety systems you built after you're gone. Nor will they remember that you were responsible for the security lock on a door or a new design for lock-out tags. Those are lifeless objects. And although they play a part, forms, rules, paperwork and procedures can be replaced. They are temporary at best.

Safety systems are not legacy things. That is unless you’ve done something so radically different that it’s now referred to as The (your name) Manoeuvre. Then it’s a legacy. But those things don’t come around often. Instead, consider the easier way to create a legacy, by being remembered for who you are instead of what you’ve done.

Here are three tips to consider in building a legacy in safety:

1Care. You would think that this one would be easy but you’d be wrong. For some reason, in the world of safety supervision and management, people are afraid of being, well, people. They’re afraid to let themselves be who they are. Good people care about people. And you are a good person, aren’t you? You work with good people don’t you? If a disaster hit your community, you’d rally others to join you to help out wouldn’t you? You see, that’s what good people do. That’s what you expect from people who care about other people and the communities in which they live. It’s OK to care. It’s OK to express your feelings of gratitude, hurt, honour and compassion. If you’re not in touch with those emotions, how can you guide yourself to do the right thing? People will remember how you made yours a better place to work because of the the way you made people feel. They will remember how they felt valued and cared about when you were around. They will remember that you lifted up your team and made them proud of the work they do. But no one will remember that you made a new rule. In a world where disengaged employees seem to care little for the work they do, those who do care stand out. Be that person.

2Have non-negotiables. Every person who is clear on what they will and won’t accept has a list of non-negotiables: things they are unwilling to bend on. Honesty, integrity, accountability, work ethic may be things that you are not willing to negotiate on. Safety performance has got to be up near the top of the list. There can be no negotiation on safety. In fact, the only non-negotiable that should be higher up the list of non-negotiables is human life. That means you have to (see point #1 above) care for your people first and then ensure that they are embracing the safe way. When you put people ahead of rules, you use the rules to support your love of people. And don’t worry, it’s not imperative that everyone else know what your non-negotiables are. What matters is that you know what they are. They’re yours. Your expectations for your crew and fellow employees will be based on non negotiables. Don’t worry, everyone else will soon figure out the things you won’t give an inch on. And you’ll be respected for it because you won’t accept excuses on those things.

3Build other leaders. As the saying goes, the purpose of a fruit tree isn’t to grow fruit but to grow another tree. Leadership is exactly the same way. The purpose of leaders is to grow more leaders. If you’re not building other leaders, you’re not leaving a legacy. Safety leaders share the credit if they don’t give it all away to the team that did the work. When you build people up, they don’t let you down. The best way to ensure your legacy is to plant seeds and grow more leaders. Then the work you do can live on after you’re gone. The sweetest thing you can for your current workplace is to make them miss you when you're gone. To know that you made a difference gives a great deal of satisfaction to the work. It can make you proud. If you are proud of your work, you are proud of your people. There is no other way to look at it. Build other leaders and you have good reason to be proud.

New Call-to-actionThe great part of legacies is that there is no better time to start on them than right this moment. Everything you’ve done up to this point is accidental. From now on, the legacy you create in safety will be on-purpose. While you're building yours,inspire others to do the same.

Kevin Burns gives engaging, entertaining and inspiring speeches to front-line employees at safety meetings. He also works with supervisors and safety managers on-site or in keynote presentations at conferences. Kevin helps organizations integrate caring for and valuing employees through their safety programs. Kevin Burns is a management consultant, safety speaker and author of 9 books.He is based in Calgary, Canada.

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Topics: safety leadership, kevin burns, safety management, safety supervisor