Do You Want To Lower Safety Numbers or Improve Safety Culture?

You know that you want to improve your safety culture. You just may not be going about it the right way. So, let’s give you a tip on where to start to improve safety culture the more effective way.

When I am consulting with senior managers or presenting to supervisors, I ask this question: are you trying to lower numbers or improve safety culture?

"Both" is usually the answer. And you already know that when you improve the culture, you will get long-term better performance in the numbers. But here’s the problem: you’re not actively working to improve the culture. You're spending more time on numbers-related issues.

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You see numbers are measurable. And what gets measured gets managed. It’s harder to measure safety culture.

Here’s your tip to help you get clear on whether you’re currently working on lowering numbers or improving culture.

TIP: Ask yourself where your energy is going? Is what you are doing right now helping to improve culture or are you focused on things that will affect the numbers?

Anything to do with rules and regulations, processes and procedures, paperwork and forms is about improving performance numbers, not culture. Slips, trips and falls, ladder safety, PPE, handwashing; those things are not culture items. They are performance items. Items that impact numbers.

Culture initiatives are more about motivation, teamwork, getting buy-in to safety, leadership, caring, trust and respect. Culture is improved only when you include many of the soft skills. And if you’re not doing any of those, you’re not actively moving towards improving your safety culture. You’re focused on getting people to follow rules and procedures. That’s about numbers.

If you want to shift the culture, showing charts and graphs and numbers in your safety meetings won't help. Neither will endlessly reviewing rules and procedures they already know.

If it’s not clear in your mind, you can’t clearly communicate it.

To shift culture, you must be actively engaging your people to create a movement of safety in your workplace or in your crew. If you’re not openly showing them that you value your people and that they matter, you’re not going to shift the safety culture.

If you'd like to get started on improving safety culture, it starts with your ability to lead your team. Take the Free Preview of the Safety Communications & Coaching for Supervisors course. 40-minutes of video instruction, summary sheet download PDFs and a companion MP3 audio version to take with you on the go. And it's free to get started.

Then, do this.

Make a list of values and soft-skills things that you would like to see your people doing that they’re not doing enough of now. Maybe complimenting each other for excellent work. Or asking some of them to step up and be leaders, to speak up, to encourage the other team members.

Make a decision about what you want them to do specifically? Get that picture vivid in your mind. Write it down. If it’s not clear in your mind, you can’t clearly communicate it. So, get clear.

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SCCS Banner WebsiteTake the FREE preview lesson of Kevin's course Safety Communications & Coaching for Supervisors. 40-minutes of video instruction, summary download PDFs and a companion audio MP3 version to take with you on the go. SCCS is an online course to help energize safety, build teamwork, and get employee buy-in.

Kevin Burns, consultant/author, works with smart, caring companies to energize safety culture, build teamwork, and get employee buy-in. KevBurns Learning is committed to to helping companies improve safety by improving people, through creative learning materials, virtual strategy sessions, safety meeting presentations, and team coaching programs.

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Topics: safety leadership, safety culture hearts and minds, safety hearts and minds