What is your intent for safety?

052BlogThumbYou look for the members of your team to deliver their best performance each day. Or at least something near to their best performance. Despite their best intentions to do that, your people can be pulled off-task by something or someone new in their workspace. Or a sudden change in the workflow. Interruption is the quickest way to mess with the flow of someone’s excellent performance.

You have had it happen to you. You have been pulled off-task by a phone call, an incident in your department, a sudden visit from a senior executive who wants to talk about future plans. Since you cannot be focused on two things equally at the same time, either you’re focused on the meeting with the senior manager or you’re focused on what’s happening with your people outside your door. Either way, you’re not fully engaged in one of the two. So, don’t be surprised when the same thing happens with your people.

You have to ask your self what your intention is for your people. Is it to momentarily ignore your people so that you can give your full attention to whatever it is that is interrupting your day? Or, will you ensure your people are looked after? Here’s how you can use “intent” to improve your team’s results. Read on and don't forget to watch the video below.

Either you choose intent or chance.

If you are not doing your job with an intention to accomplish something or to improve something or someone, then you don’t have a plan. Once you have an intent, you have the foundation for building a plan. Without intent, you are by default allowing chance and circumstances to dictate what happens to you and your crew. Without intent, you are not working toward something. You are just checking boxes and punching the clock. And without intent, you are aimless.

Intent is connected to your vision. It where you decide which direction you are going to go, what you are going to do, and who’s going with you. Drive for 5 hours from Chicago and you’ll end up west in Des Moines, Iowa. Or you could end up 5 hours east in Columbus Ohio. Depends on your intention. 

Without intent you have no control over where you end up. Without intent, it’s not a vision. It’s daydreaming. What then, is your intent for your people in safety? What is your intent for your safety performance? What is your intent for your safety meetings? What is your intent for building better teamwork and encouraging your people to intend to do safety better?

No one decides your intent for you.

Kevburns university2What is your intent for safety: to lower numbers or improve culture? Since numbers can be lowered by simple, brute-force enforcement (but creates a lousy place to work) I am going to guess that you want to improve culture. If that is your intent, what is your plan to do that? What actionable steps are you taking to improve your team-attitudes? What is it that you are asking your people to do that they are not doing right now?

What will your safety meetings look like if your intent is to improve the culture? Will you continue to talk about numbers and say you are trying to improve the culture?

The gauge of culture

The gauge of your culture isn’t just performance numbers. It’s about things like teamwork, camaraderie, diligence, quality and simple things things like how much your people laugh and enjoy where they work. People who enjoy their jobs and are diligent and conscientious, tend to do better quality work. It’s tough to have high-quality standards for work while accepting low-quality, minimum-effort safety performance.

What is your intent for your team and your workplace? Be very clear on your standards. Develop a strong vision for your team. Get them to add to the vision and buy-in to their own ideas. Then, keep your focus on your people. And if you end up being called into a surprise meeting that takes your focus off of your people, have a trusted “second” ready to take over and lead the team in your absence.

Lead your team with intent. Leave nothing to chance.


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.

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