To be respected and trusted will require you to become a safety leader.
Safety people can hold various positions within an organization. All have varying degrees of supervisory, management and advisory responsibilities. Some administrate. Some manage. Some supervise. Some advise. Some hold senior management positions. And yet others, hope to one day hold one of these positions. So, what things can be done by any safety person in any safety position that would universally make them better at their jobs? Improve their personal skills.
If all you really want to do is to enforce rules, then you will become a safety cop and your future job options will be very limited. But to be respected and trusted will require you to become a safety leader. You will need to hone your safety leadership skills.
Here are four things you can do right now to be become a more effective safety leader:
1Let go of your need to be right. That doesn’t mean that you must be wrong. It means that you need to let go of the need to prove that you are right. People who have a need to be right, end up making others wrong. There’s no other way around this. If you will need to prove yourself right, you will, by default, make others wrong. And you can’t build trust and respect by making others wrong. To become more effective as a safety person, you must build trust and respect so that you become an influencer, not an enforcer. People get their backs up when they are faced with being wrong. You must reason with people. Coach them, mentor them and influence them to make good decisions. To do that, you must first gain their trust and respect. So, let go of your need to be right. Instead, look for opportunities to negotiate and influence good decisions.
2Be the same person on and off the job. You’re not an actor playing the part of a safety person in a community theater play. You’re a safety professional. Safety leaders choose safety because they care about people. They don't choose safety because the position gives them authority. You’re the same person who does nice things for your spouse. You’re the same person who comforts your child when they skin their knee. You’re the same person who cries when a family member passes on. Be that same person. Bring your empathy, consideration, courtesy and caring to work with you. You’re working with people, good people, who have families of their own. Be the same person that your kids and spouse are proud of. Ask if how you conduct yourself at work would scare your own child - or at least make them question why you act that way.
3Treat what you do like a career - not just a job. When you look to the example of professional athletes, you won’t see people who just show up at game time and hope to wing it to victory. No, there are thousands of hours of practice and coaching and fine-tuning performance. The best athletes receive the highest pay, the highest attention and the highest expectations. To become an exceptional safety leader, you will need to hone your craft. As a safety leader, the greatest amount of your time is spent communicating. It doesn’t matter how well you know the safety rules if you lack the skills to communicate what you know. Sure, you need to keep current of safety legislation changes. But you will need to communicate what you know hundreds of times more often. Your focus should be on developing effective communication skills. Read, learn, absorb everything you can in being a better communicator.
4Don’t suck up the oxygen. As a safety leader, you’re a coach and a mentor. Coaches and mentors don’t take center-stage. They are the ones quietly operating in the background. They are the ones who make the front-line people the real stars. As a safety leader, your job is to influence - not to dominate the conversations. Whether it be in a one-on-one conversation or in a safety meeting. Don’t beat your people over the head with dozens of text-laden PowerPoint slides. Stop the long-winded, one-sided verbal dumps. People don’t learn dozens of things at one time. So, keep it simple. Keep it short. Keep it focused. Sometimes, a short whisper is more effective than a 45-minute diatribe on 27 different subjects using 72 slides. Especially if your people are not writing any of it down.
Simply put, your job as an effective safety leader, is to make everything you do all about making it better for crews and employees. To become a better safety leader first requires that you be a better person.
Kevin Burns is a management consultant, safety speaker and author of "The Perfect Safety Meeting" and his newest #1 Amazon Health & Safety Bestseller, "Running With Scissors - 10 Reasons To Invest in Safety In Slow Times." He is an expert in how to get through to people - how to talk with them so they hear and understand. Kevin's presentation "Trust The Process - Instill A Safety Attitude To Build An Engaged Culture Of Safety" will help your organization reach the following goals: better engagement and buy-in to safety, increased teamwork, better communication, lower turnover resulting in increased profits from production.(c) Can Stock Photo