Before you assume that your team is slipping into safety complacency, you need to determine whether complacency is really the problem. It may not be.Read More
My first paid job was as a 12-year-old salesman on a Dickie Dee ice cream bicycle. I worked on commission with no hourly wage. In 1973, popsicles cost a nickel and ice cream drumsticks were a quarter. The ice cream bike was a single speed, 3-wheeler that weighed 600 pounds fully loaded, and my route was a hilly, blue-collar town in Renfrew, Ontario.
Like most families in Renfrew, mine didn’t have much money. My dad was an office manager at a tire shop and my mom was an elementary school teacher. I was working to save up for a 10-speed bike that cost $125.
I quickly learned what time workers at the local factories took their breaks. Most of them had no air conditioning, so a frozen treat always hit the spot.
I noticed the camaraderie those factory workers shared. It wasn’t uncommon for one guy to step up and say, “We’ve got five guys here, so it’s five cones on me.” It seemed to me that whatever they were doing, they were in it together.
The following year I worked part time in a golf course pro shop. My boss, the golf pro, was an intense manager who was insistent on routines, procedures, and presentation. Everything had to be done just so, no surprises.
Then as a young teenager, I worked at our small town’s first radio station. I emptied trash cans and helped out wherever I could. I learned that the best announcers were the ones who connected with their audiences on a personal level.
The job started me on an 18-year career in broadcasting doing jobs from sales rep to on-air announcer (11 years as a morning-man) to supervisory and management positions.
Through all of those early jobs, I found that one thing trumped everything else— and that one thing was relationships.Read More
The frontlines are where the largest numbers of employees gather each day. It’s where the greatest number of supervisors do their jobs, where the greatest amount of activity is. It’s where the most problems happen and where the largest numbers of safety incidents occur.
At the frontline is where the morale and reputation of the organization is created and upheld. It’s at the frontline where effective supervisory skills, clear communications, and employee buy-in to safety are needed most.
Companies are spending too much time and too much money with inconsistent and ineffective communications trying to engage their employees and supervisors in taking ownership of the safety program.
When faced with issues like lack of employee and supervisory buy-in to safety, the conventional approach is to double-down on safety rules and process enforcement. But you don't fix recurring safety issues by piling on more safety.
Instead, what is needed are new innovations and approaches to build employee and supervisory ownership of safety. And, you to do that you must clarify your safety communications and messaging.Read More
The Safety Double-Down
When safety performance suffers, or complacency starts to sneak in, the typical response is to double-down on more safety. Increased attention on rules, procedures, meetings, reminders, inspections, audits. Maybe you see more generic safety posters, hear more safety shares, and sit through a video message from senior management.
It becomes pretty apparent that there is a push on for increased safety awareness.
And maybe it works … for a while. Then, life hits you: project deadlines, customer demands, production delays, weather issues, staffing problems. What is considered important (safety) gets nudged out of prime mindspace in favor of the urgent issues. And before long, you are back to dealing with the same safety performance issues you had before.
Traditional thinking has you convinced that you must double-down on safety. Except you don’t need more safety.
Instead, you need more people to buy-in to safety.Read More
To perform at the highest levels of safety starts with a shift in mindset.
How well does your crew work as a team? Let’s think about the context of that question in relation to safety. There isn’t a safety person or supervisor that doesn’t believe deep down that their crew could be working a little better as a team in safety. The key here, is in your willingness to do something about it.
If you want your crew to be more effective in how they come together and look out for each other, then there is one thing you, as their leader, need to get them to do.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More