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The 3-Step Process to Improving Safety Culture

Posted by Kevin Burns on Oct 28, 2020 11:15:00 AM

Fifteen years ago, I was conducting a leadership workshop with a group of senior managers at an oil and gas drilling company. At one point during our meeting, one of the senior managers began lamenting the recent departure of one of their drilling rig managers to a competitor.

Three months previous, the rig manager left for another drilling company. And his departure was still being felt.

I was confused as to why there seemed to be so much concern and discussion at the loss of a single rig manager still after ninety days. Then I was informed that over the three months following the rig manager’s departure, each of the 8 members of that rig manager’s team had also handed in their resignations. All left to join their old boss at the new company.

The company hadn’t lost just one person. They had lost nine – the whole crew.

My first thought was, “wow, we need to create more of those kinds of supervisors.”

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Focus on Safety Benefits, Not Numbers

Posted by Kevin Burns on Oct 14, 2020 11:15:00 AM

Numbers don't sell anything.

The furnace in our house is 96.1% efficient. The water softener regenerates every 1000 gallons. The home office workspace is 350 sq.ft. The sound-reducing acoustical-drywall treatments have reduced ambient noise from 47db to 26db. Converting to LED bulbs throughout the house reduced energy consumption by 25% in the first month. Want to buy a house?

Numbers don’t sell houses. Mileage numbers don’t sell cars. You don’t lead with numbers to sell anything. In fact, in a Real Estate listing, you will find the numbers in the footnotes. Vehicle mileage and fuel economy numbers are found on the back page of the brochure.

Truthfully, people buy emotionally and justify their decision with logic and facts. People buy-in to things and ideas that will improve their lives in some way (safety included). They use numbers to support their decision.

Let's use the example of Real Estate. A compelling Real Estate listing does not lead with numbers. It leads with a quality-of-life benefit statement - something that evokes an image or an emotion.

  • Skip the commute and work from home in one of two offices.
  • Enjoy expansive mountain views on three floors.
  • Relax with a glass of wine watching the most spectacular sunsets.
  • Take advantage of the peace and tranquility of near-country living.

When you lead off with benefits to the buyer, you create a more compelling statement. These are the kinds of images people want to envision when they are looking for a place to settle their family. The best statements use words that evoke a vision, a feeling, an emotion.

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Your Next Ideal Supervisor Must Include These Traits

Posted by Kevin Burns on Oct 7, 2020 11:30:00 AM

A supervisor who cares about their team, cares about their safety.

A 20-year trades ticket or 20 years of job experience essentially becomes useless the moment a frontline employee becomes a supervisor. Not that 20-years of experience will no longer be needed, but largely a supervisor does not do the frontline work anymore.

They now supervise frontline work. And that requires a completely different skillset.

Effective supervisors need coaching skills, communications skills, people skills, management skills, leadership skills. Eighty percent of a supervisor’s day is spent coaching, communicating, managing, leading, and dealing with people.

So, when companies promote one of their frontline employees into a supervisory position, are they setting that supervisor up to win?

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Why do we expect they know what to do in safety?

Posted by Kevin Burns on Sep 30, 2020 11:14:00 AM

We promote frontline employees into supervisory positions without ensuring they have skills development in coaching, communications, safety, and empowerment. And then we expect that they will know exactly what to do?

Fifteen years ago, while awaiting a flight, I had a conversation with a frontline supervisor who was working at an oilsands site in Northern Alberta. John had a commanding presence with his loud, gravelly voice. He had been supervising a team of 16 for several years at that time. He was proud of the work he did and prouder of his team.

I have my electricians’ ticket, my plumber’s ticket, and a steamfitter’s ticket,” he beamed. “My dad always said to me that they can take your job, but they can never take your paper. As long as you have your paper, you can always land somewhere.

I tell my team to get paper for themselves. To become the best in their field because when you’re the best, you’re more valuable,” he smiled. “And I want my guys to not just be looked after, but to exceed me.

John also admitted that since becoming a supervisor, he didn’t use much of the knowledge gained from getting his tickets. He knew that the skills he needed most of all were good coaching skills, a caring demeanor, good communication skills, and a genuine desire to help his team exceed even his own skill-level.

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The Real Safety Influence

Posted by Kevin Burns on Sep 23, 2020 11:15:00 AM

As a safety person or senior manager, what keeps you up at night? Are you concerned that your current communication efforts aren't getting you the results you want? Are you worried that you should be training your people more, spending more time with them, guiding them, coaching them, motivating them, communicating with them, encouraging them? Are you worried that someone is going to make that one decision that does not end well? 

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Want to fix safety? Stop focusing on safety.

Posted by Kevin Burns on Sep 16, 2020 11:15:00 AM

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.

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Do Your Employees Have These 5 Safety Traits?

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

There are five traits that if your people have them, safety will be the easiest thing they do. What are the five? Find out.

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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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Valued People Value Safety

Posted by Kevin Burns on Aug 8, 2019 11:07:00 AM

Have you ever noticed that no matter how many times you’ve felt that you’re out of gas, out of patience, out of energy, that when someone you care about needs your help, you suddenly have the energy?

Bob Dylan said it best. “Just when you feel you have nothing left to give; you find out you were wrong.”

After the toughest days or toughest circumstances, when someone who matters needs you, you find the strength to keep going. You give it one more try. You lend one more hand. You make a difference one more time. Because you always have something left to give especially when someone needs your help.

The people you care about matter. The important people in your life deserve your best and you never want to disappoint them. So, you keep going, even when it hurts., Even when you’re tired. Even when you just want to rest.

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Hearts and Minds in Safety

Posted by Kevin Burns on Jun 12, 2019 11:07:00 AM

When the information doesn't sink in

Do you ever find yourself wondering what more you have to say to get your crews to consistently do safety right? Well, the answer might be easier than you think. Say less.

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