How to Improve Safety Engagement

Posted by Kevin Burns on Oct 23, 2019 11:15:00 AM

Can you seriously call it “employee engagement” if the employee has little to do with it? Safety engagement needs to connect better.

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3 Strategies to Improve Safety Buy-in

Posted by Kevin Burns on Oct 9, 2019 11:07:00 AM

We don’t need more safety rules. We need more buy-in to safety.

It feels like safety is in a transition place – where the compliance and punitive consequential measures of the past are giving way to more of a sense of community and teamwork. Where rules-based safety programs are giving way to higher levels of engagement, awareness and participation. Where safety managers are acting more in a consultative role instead of the clipboard carrying, looking-over-shoulder types of the past. There seems to be greater acceptance by employees of the role of safety in the workplace even though that role is still in flux. But there is still resistance to safety by some employees (there is certainly no widespread and universal acceptance of safety) largely due to how safety has been positioned in the workplace.

We’ve never had better safety processes and procedures than what we have today in our workplaces. But workplace disengagement numbers are still disappointing. Only a third of our people feel actively engaged, satisfied and taking an active interest in the work they do. Two-thirds do not. Based on those numbers, which group do you think is at risk of experiencing a workplace incident more? The one-third who feel actively engaged, satisfied and take an active interest in the work they do? Or the two-thirds who don’t feel connected to their work?

If you are trying to connect people to safety before you are connecting them to their work, you are skipping a step. You cannot effectively communicate with someone who is not engaged in the conversation. But you try anyway. You hold safety meetings where, by the very numbers above, two-thirds of the group in the meetings aren’t fully engaged. No one takes notes or writes anything down in meetings or briefings. No one commits anything to paper. Essentially, you rely on their memory. Ever lost your keys or forgot someone’s name? Mm hmm. But you will remember everything from the safety briefing though, right? Forgive my sarcasm.

People who are not engaged in their work are certainly not going to be engaged in safely doing the very work they’re not engaged in, are they? So how can the engagement problem get fixed and build better buy-in to safety? Read on below and watch the video about a unique way of rallying your people around a common cause.

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Can Protests Improve Safety?

Posted by Kevin Burns on Sep 11, 2019 11:07:00 AM

There is a marked difference between a rally and a protest. Simply put, a rally is usually in support of something. A protest is in opposition to something. If you want to be part of showing your support in favour of something, you rally.

At a rally, generally, everyone is well behaved and orderly. There may be some chanting, but it is usually done in unison to wave the flag of support for a specific cause. You may also find that the rally is better organized - with a sound system, an agenda and speakers to address the rally.

At a protest, however, the energy is different. The chanting is louder and full of emotion. There is shouting, fist-pumping, marching and often there are confrontations. Protestors can be incredibly passionate about their cause and they want the world to know where they stand. Occasionally that emotion can spill over into over-the-top behaviour. Agree with the protest or not, a protest gets your attention.

Where a rally might last an hour or two, a protest can drag on for weeks with seemingly no reduction in energy or passion by the protesters.

How can a protest affect your safety program? Read on and watch the video below....

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3 Strategies to More Safety Influence

Posted by Kevin Burns on Aug 28, 2019 12:21:49 PM

Your favorite high-school teacher and the best boss you ever had have given you all of the clues you will ever need to become more influential in leading your people in safety. But what clues did they leave you? And how will you know which of the things they did will help you be a better leader in safety?

Well, let’s start with your favorite boss. Out of all of the bosses you’ve ever had in your lifetime, what is it that makes this particular boss best? Was it particular character traits, mannerisms, the way they spoke to you, the way they approached meetings or coaching sessions? Was it the way they seemed to be focused on your success more than their own? Was it a gem of an idea or observation that you will carry with you as a real learning moment for the rest of your life? They are your favorite for a reason.

Now, think about the best teacher you ever had and compare that person to the best boss you ever had. Study your favorite teacher for the same clues as your best boss. Where are they similar? Think about how each of them talked to you, coached you, valued you and pushed you to be a little better. The way they made you the center of the conversations with them. The way they connected with you.

It will be no surprise to learn that the things your best boss did and the things your favorite teacher did were closely related. There are things that people do for us that we enjoy, and we warm up to. You have responded positively to the positive influences in your life. You remember those positive influences fondly and are probably grateful for the mark they made on you. How does that affect you in helping your people come to safety more easily? Read on and watch the video below.

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Check-in Safety Beats Check-box Safety

Posted by Kevin Burns on Apr 17, 2019 11:07:00 AM

You may cover the check-boxes but you need to ensure employees are going to give safety their attention and focus.

Is yours a check-box safety culture? Or a check-in safety culture? What’s the difference? A check-box safety culture is just what the name implies. You go through the checklists and check off the items that you have completed.

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What's Important to Employees in Safety

Posted by Kevin Burns on Feb 27, 2019 11:07:00 AM

You need to connect with employees in driving the things that are important to them.

You feel like you’re saying the right things in safety. Some days your safety performance is great. Other days, you wonder if your team was listening at all. And it frustrates you that just when you seem to be making steps forward, a dumb little incident shows up.

This is where you can change it up.

You need a safety message that resonates, at the right time, saying the right thing so that every employee is working toward common goals in safety. And the goals are not numbers. Stop pitching numbers to your people. Numbers don’t inspire better performance.

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How to Follow-up Your Safety Stand-down

Posted by Kevin Burns on Jan 16, 2019 11:07:00 AM

You need the right message, at the right time, to the right people so that every employee is working toward common goals in safety.

You’re planning a safety stand-down, safety event, safety day, whatever you want to call it. I’ll stick with stand-down. So, you’ve set aside your dates, got a budget from your senior managers and you’re busy making plans for what you are going to do for your stand-down. Now, before you plan any further, I want to pass along some advice that will make your stand-down be much more effective.

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The Tools of Safety Leaders

Posted by Kevin Burns on Jan 9, 2019 11:32:45 AM

You have got to set aside time each day for your own tools and skills development.

Let’s start by saying that I have dedicated plenty of space to identifying the “traits of safety leaders” in past Blog posts. And as important as the traits of safety leaders are, the tools they use to develop those traits is even more important.

Good safety leaders are respected. And safety leaders understand the simple premise that “staff don’t work for you, you work for them.” The point of leadership is to help other grow. So when we see inexperienced or even wrong-thinking supervisors flexing their authority muscles at employees, you wonder how long a disliked and disrespected supervisor or safety person is going to last?

Employees want to have a reason to respect the supervisor and the safety person. And, even though that supervisor might now have a lot of experience, employees will respect a supervisor who admits that they are working on it.

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6 Key Parts of Improving Safety Culture

Posted by Kevin Burns on Dec 12, 2018 11:07:00 AM

What employees want from the job can change your culture.

In my last post (When Employees Don't Give You Safety Performance), I presented an overview of what employees want from their supervisors and immediate managers. This time around, we are going to take a look at what employees want from their jobs. Because if they don’t get what they want from their job, why would you expect them to give their best effort, especially in safety?

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When Employees Don't Give You Safety Performance

Posted by Kevin Burns on Dec 5, 2018 11:07:00 AM

If they’re not giving you safety, it’s because you’re not giving them what they want.

To paraphrase a quote, the secret to getting what you want is to help enough other people get what they want. Zig Ziglar said that. He wasn’t wrong. Help enough other people get a win for themselves and they are more likely to help you get your win.

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