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5 Way to Improve Teamwork in Safety

Safety leaders know that the safety performance is more than a reflection of the leader. It is a team effort of commitment to a common goal.

Team04-3.jpgIt’s called safety management for a reason. It is made up of two parts: safety and management. The best safety processes and procedures can still fail in the absence of good management. You may know processes and procedures like the back of your hand. But now, you must get more familiar in driving better team safety performance.

Employees perform better when they feel that they are valued and cared for. Safety rules don’t make people feel valued. People do. So, it takes good people skills to get better safety performance from your team.

Here are five things you should be doing with your people to build better teamwork and drive better performance in safety:

1Focus on people improvement. Improve the people and you improve the quality of the work. And you improve the abilities and decisions in the field. As much as it makes sense to want to improve safety performance, the best place to start is in people improvement. Better people do better work, get better results and make better decisions. Trying to improve safety performance without first improving the people cannot sustain. When middle managers improve, they are better able to support supervisors in getting better. When supervisors manage better, they support front-line team in doing better work. To get sustainable safety performance, build it on the back of improved work performance and quality. Improve your people to improve their safety performance.

2Compliment more than criticize. Did you know that you stand to benefit personally the more you genuinely compliment your team member’s work? According to Psychology Today, there are many advantages to becoming better at complimenting. The more you compliment others, the better your own self-esteem gets. You think better about yourself. When you think better of yourself, you go looking for reasons to think better of others. It’s takes little skill or talent to criticize. That’s why so many bad supervisors do it. It’s easy. But it takes someone who is focused on meeting other people’s needs to offer a compliment. People who ensure that their team member’s needs are met, gets the respect and admiration of the team. It brings the team closer together. That team performs better - especially in safety.

3Inspect, don’t expect. One of the easiest ways to set yourself up to be able to pass along compliments is to regularly inspect the work and progress of your team. That is not to say that you should be nit-picking or micro-managing your people. But when you give them some autonomy, it is engaging. Asking them about their progress is how you inspect their work by engaging the team better. Give your team the freedom to come to you with problems and issues. Empower them to bring solutions and they will. By being focused on inspecting, you can head off issues early and you can “atta-boy” your team often. Knowing that the work is being inspected regularly causes team members to be focused on the task at hand. They are present on the job. And a focused effort on the job heads off safety issues before they become issues.

4Advocate for your crew. Employees perform better for supervisors who they feel have the employee’s back. Advocating on behalf of your team means you are willing to go to bat for them. You are willing to stand up for them. You are making a declaration that you look after your people. And they, in turn, will look after you. To advocate for your crew means to advance your people’s ideas and suggestions. Moving those ideas and suggestions up the chain of command solidifies your team as a valuable entity. It bring the members of the team closer together and they actually look out for each other more. They are more willing to work as a close-knit team if they know that their supervisor has their best interests at heart. They will return the favour by having the back of their supervisor. When everyone is looking out for each other, safety performance improves.

5Give the team the credit. It takes a team effort for the members of the team to look out for each other. No one can let down their guard. Everyone must be committed to the idea that each member of the team has great value. That value must be protected. And, you show leadership when you go looking for reasons to praise your team instead of tearing them down. Supervisors who throw their people under the bus and put the blame on a member of the team steal away the credit. They undermine their own teams. And when the team is undermined, it falls apart. Safety leaders know that the safety performance is more than just a reflection of the leader. Safety performance is a team effort of commitment to a common goal. When you give the team the credit, you make them equals. And that results in team motivation to do safety even better.

New Call-to-actionKevin Burns helps safety departments, safety committees, management and front-line supervisors to accelerate safety programs. Through consulting services to create a personalized plan to accelerate safety teamwork, or a safety meeting speaking presentation to rally your employees around safety, Kevin helps improve engagement and teamwork in safety.

Kevin Burns is a management consultant, speaker and author of “PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety.” He believes that the best place to work is always the safest place to work. www.KevBurns.com

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Topics: safety speaker, safety leadership, kevin burns, safety supervisor, peoplework, safety teamwork