Sending people home safe is the least you are allowed to do by law. You’re not allowed to do less than that. So, when you celebrate sending your people home safe, you are undermining your own safety program. You send the wrong message to your people. You are suggesting that you have to work hard to be safe. But, safety isn’t supposed to be hard. So when you celebrate sending people home safe, it feels to them like you had to work hard to accomplish that.
Your people show up to work expecting that you have taken every reasonable precaution to provide them a safe place to work. When you celebrate that you’re sending them home safe, you’re celebrating the basic minimum and it contradicts your people’s expectations.
What is your intent?
Sending people home safe is not an accomplishment. It’s the job. Whether you’re a front-line supervisor, a safety person, or a senior executive, if you want to capture the hearts and minds of your people in safety, stop making it harder for them to believe in the company. Give them a reason to believe in where they work and the people they work with.
Is your intent to celebrate your people or is it to celebrate your safety record? The first makes people feel appreciated. The second undermines your people’s importance. If you want to capture the hearts and minds of your people in safety, you are going to have to get better at making your people feel appreciated for the work they do.
When you celebrate that you sent your people home safe, you are not acknowledging their contribution to the work. You are not appreciating them and their diligence. You are celebrating that you did your job. You are celebrating you, not them.
Unappreciated people don’t remain loyal.
There’s an old saying that people don’t leave a company, they leave a bad boss. Any boss who celebrates numbers is not a great boss to work for. They are average at best. Safety isn’t about tracking numbers – outside of the inner workings of the safety department. Instead, take a view that safety is the result. It’s the result you get when your team of appreciated people work like a tight team.
Safety happens when everyone is giving their best effort and each person is demanding quality in their work. Safety happens when you rally your team around a common cause of looking out for and caring for each other. Safety is the result of doing everything well – not just following procedures.
People who feel appreciated come to work the next day motivated. Motivated people are engaged. Engaged people pay attention to things that are happening around them and the people they are doing that work with. Yet, too many times you see that you are trying to connect your people with safety procedures and processes before you are connecting them with their work.
Players don’t want to play for a coach who doesn’t appreciate them or who cares more about the numbers than he or she does about the people responsible for getting those numbers.
Ask yourself if you’re showing your appreciation.
Your people expect to go home safely. It’s a reasonable expectation. They expect that the workplace is relatively safe and that their safety has been planned out. Comparing two companies of similar size in the same industry, one can struggle with their safety performance. Another can do it with ease. People prefer to work where it seems safer. The best place to work is never an unsafe place to work.
People don’t leave a job where they feel appreciated or cared for. They don’t leave a job where they feel like they matter and that their immediate supervisor makes them feel like an integral member of the team. But employees do leave workplaces where the rules, processes and procedures seem to matter more than the people doing the work. Where the focus is more on numbers than on the people who create the numbers.
It takes very little talent to enforce rules and procedures. Same could be said of how some workplaces subject employees to PowerPoint assaults of bullet-points, charts and graphs. That is not how you create buy-in. That is not how you capture hearts and minds in safety. Which is probably the reason so few supervisors and safety people ever elevate beyond being acceptable to truly becoming exceptional. The bar is set low for what is acceptable. Exceptional however, in both safety and culture, requires a serious shift in mindset.
Are your people really your “appreciating” assets?
The exceptional leaders, the supervisors and safety people, make their people understand that it is people who are most important. It is people who build things, move things, extract things. It is people who care, who demand better and look out for each other.
Stop reducing your team to a number at the end of a quarter. Appreciate them. Make them proud of where they work, and the people they work with. Make them proud of the quality of work they turn in and the quality of person they are. A team that feels appreciated takes great pride in their work, their team and their company. Those team members stay loyal and focused. You won’t have to celebrate that you sent them home safe. That will simply become the culture of their workplace. They will expect it and demand it of themselves.
You know how to inspire your team, to appreciate them, to be their guide instead of their boss. You know how it’s done because you’ve been in their shoes and worked for bosses who didn’t inspire, didn’t appreciate and didn’t guide. You know how it feels to work for someone like that. You know how to do it right. The question is: will you?
Kevin Burns, consultant/author, works with smart, caring companies to energize safety culture, build teamwork, and get employee buy-in. Kevin is on a mission to help employees purposefully care about the work they do and to actively look out for the people they do it with.
Watch for the launch of KevBurns University in early 2020 - online courses to capture hearts & minds in safety. http://www.KevBurns.com