Heartfelt Safety Is Real

The people we seem to respect the most are the ones, the leaders, who are not afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves.

kd.jpgLast week on the national TV news, there was a feature about a ten year-old autistic boy who had a love of Star Wars Kraft Dinner macaroni and cheese. The problem was that the Star Wars promotion was running out of stock. A plea went out from the boys parents on social media to help find more boxes of the the Star Wars mac and cheese. William Shatner, Captain Kirk from Star Trek, connected with the manufacturers to have many year’s supply sent to the boy. It was a heartwarming story.

Once upon a time, soft stories like this were used as filler for the end of a broadcast or to fill empty space in a newspaper. Now, they’re on the front page. Daily heartwarming and emotionally-based human interest stories are all over the airwaves.

Safety and Making The World A Better Place

We are connecting with our hearts more than ever before; including how we connect with each other at work. Employees want to feel like the work matters, yes. But even more important, employees want to feel that their employers are doing something to help make the world a better place. Companies are responding. The TELUS Community Ambassadors and the RBC Blue Water Project are just two examples.

Your people care about things that make their communities better, that uplift those who need a hand and they are connecting with their hearts more than ever. Does your safety program connect with your people in the same way? If it doesn’t, you’re missing the bigger picture to connect your people to a common cause that looks out for each other.

Oprah changed television to become a medium where stories of inspiration and hope flourished. Your employee pool is made up of children of the Oprah generation. They were raised on Oprah. They are connected to their emotions. They are people who care about other people. And your safety program had better care about them in a way that they can feel it or they will find a place where they fit better.

Courage and Heart Are Within

I recall, in my own city of Calgary, the flood of 2013. Floodwaters had closed most of the office towers downtown. Employees were kept away but they didn’t stay home. They volunteered. They showed up in masses and helped out those directly affected by flood waters. I’ve never been more proud of my city than I was that summer. Then, of course, was the CBC TV interview with Fort McMurray Fire Captain Adam Bugden who wore his heart on his sleeve. 

The people we seem to respect the most are the ones, the leaders, who are not afraid to feel their emotions or talk about them. There's incredible courage in that. 

Safety is a mindset and a mission to protect and care for each other. It so much more than technical skills, process and procedure. Safety is based on valuing others. Safety can be incredibly emotional. Think about the last time someone on your job site got hurt (and here’s hoping it was a long, long time ago). People openly feel. They hurt. They mourn. They wear their hearts on their sleeves.

Soft-skills Matter in Safety

While we all need doctors, lawyers and accountants, we prefer the ones who have personality, soft-skills and an ability to connect with us. In safety, while your technical skills may get your foot in the door, your soft people skills are what keep you there. Your ability to empathize, to connect and to feel are the soft skills will help you excel as a leader. Problem solving, motivating, and team building are all much easier if you have good soft skills. Knowing how to get along with people, a positive attitude and genuinely caring are skills crucial for success.

Employees want to feel like they belong more than ever before. They want to feel like they matter. If you want people to feel passion for their work, you are going to have to connect with them in the same place that passion comes from: the heart. That especially includes safety.

Get Kevin To Speak The connection of people with people is the reason I wrote PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety. Safety is being forced to integrate soft-skills by the people who want the work to mean something more than stats and figures, rules and procedure. Community, caring and teamwork are becoming the anchor points of safety.

Make your safety program matter to your people. Connect with Kevin Burns and consider his consulting expertise or have him speak at your next safety event. www.KevBurns.com/contact 

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Topics: safety leadership, kevin burns, safety culture, safety buy-in, peoplework