Focus on The Safety of Your Crew

In a supervisory coaching session this week, one of the participants remarked about the cold February temperatures rolling across their region of the country. By the end of the conversation, he suggested that they simply bundle up and go out to do their work. And they take warm-up breaks more often.

Supervisors need to ensure the safety of their crews.


A few years ago, in Las Vegas, while working with the operations manager of a construction company, I asked the question of how they keep their crews cool during the high heat of July and August in Nevada. His answer was essentially the same: more cool-off breaks, more liquids and make sure the team looks out for each other.

There are many things that as a supervisor, you do not have control of. You can’t change the weather; you deal with it. You can’t change the economy; you deal with it. You can’t change the OH&S Code; you deal with it. Focus on what you can control, your team, and their focus on safety.


Leaders lead.

Every work crew needs and deserves a team leader who is focused on giving them what they need to do the job. They need a focused leader with a clear head and the team’s best interests at heart.

If you want your crew to give their best, you must give yours. They are taking their lead from you. They are watching your example. If you’re off punching clouds and trying to influence office politics decisions that are way outside of your responsibility, your team will copy that example. And then none of your team will be focused.

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Leaders lead. That’s why they’re called leaders. Leaders set the example of how we do things ‘round here. What example are you setting?


Would your team follow you into battle?

Well, would they? Do they trust you to have their backs and their best interests? Can they trust that you are focused on them and their needs to successfully complete the job? Or are you openly discussing with them your opinions about middle and senior management?

Supervisors set the example. When you meddle in management decisions, you tell your team that office politics is more important than the work your team is doing. And they will lose trust in you.

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When a supervisor loses the trust of his or her team, that supervisor is going to be replaced. Lose your team’s trust and you’re not providing any value to the team or the company.

As a point of note here, advocating to your superiors on behalf of your team is not considered meddling in office politics. Advancing your team’s good ideas upward is what good leaders do.


Who gets promoted?

A focused supervisor builds a solid team that gets stuff done. Positive results and good morale are noticed by upper management. In fact, in most organizations, the individual who demonstrates great ability to get things done, usually gets picked to teach others how it’s done.

Companies don’t promote supervisors who meddle in other departments or responsibilities. They want to promote people who demonstrate effective leadership.

Companies promote based on results, not disruption.

Think about the number of people you have worked with who logically may have understood that but still busied themselves with trying to get upper management to listen to their complaints or opinions.

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With so many mediocre supervisors available, to stand out is easy. There are so few true leaders at the supervisory level that when you do get one, they’re noticeable. And when it’s time to pick someone to move up from supervisory, the good ones are picked.


Does your crew "want" to follow you?

Right now, your crew “has to” follow you. And there’s a difference between “having to” follow and “wanting to” follow. As a supervisor, they have to follow your authority … but not because they want to.

However, when you make your team the center of your world, you earn trust. Be there for them, provide leadership, be caring and have their backs, and they will trust you.

When you have their trust, you have their respect. When you have the trust and respect of your team, you will have the attention of your management team.

The most valuable supervisor is the one who is able to get things done on time, keep safety incidents down, hit production targets, and to keep the team highly motivated and positive. The in-demand supervisor is especially the one who looks out for the safety of their team and encourages the team members to do that for each other. 

The Safety Communications & Coaching for Supervisors Program (SCCS) was created to help supervisors become valuable to their teams and their organizations. 

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SCCS is designed to be a program that helps supervisors leverage their influence with their teams. And to create a culture of respect and safety from the crew-level up. 

Consider taking your entire team of supervisors and middle managers through this 12-week program to create the solid footing your supervisors need. Go to to find out how your company can benefit and to see how it works.


Kevin Burns is the President/CEO of KevBurns Learning. Kevin works with smart, caring companies to energize safety culture, build teamwork, and improve employee participation in safety.

In 2020, named PeopleWork #7 of The Top 44 Workplace Safety Books of All Time. Buy yourself a copy of PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety and give another as a gift to a colleague. 

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Topics: safety leadership, safety culture, supervisor safety coaching