When Quality Meets Safety

When engagement is missing, so is quality, pride and, sadly, safety.

quality02.pngTurn on the TV and you come across fix-it experts hosting renovation or business turnaround shows. In every one of these programs are several common denominators which directly relate to a much-needed fix:

  • people who don’t care about much.
  • people who are apathetic and don’t buy-in to their job.
  • people who have lost the passion for the work they do and are simply going through the motions.
  • people who don’t take pride in their work and think “good enough” is good enough.

Apathy and complacency are the killers of quality. Customers won’t spend much on anything that has little quality attached to it. So the customers just go elsewhere, to the person who loves what they do, and takes pride in the quality they put out. Because, when a heart is not in it, neither is the quality.

Disengagement and Safety

When your heart’s not in the work, neither is the quality. Gallup’s disengagement rate of 71% should be a wake-up call to every supervisor and safety person. If 7 out of 10 employees are not actively engaged in their work, then 7 out of 10 workers are not actively engaged in their safety either. If you don’t care about the job, how are you supposed to care about safely doing the job?

To reach employees at the heart level, you can’t appeal to the mind. More safety instruction, rules and compliance heaped onto people who aren’t paying attention is not going to work. When engagement is missing, so is quality, pride and, sadly, safety.

Accountability and Responsibility

Safety requires accountability and responsibility to be effective. Without pride and quality, does safety stand a chance?

Safety people and supervisors drowning in inspections, forms and incident reports have less inclination to try to turn the disengaged around. They have neither the time, resources or skill-set to be effective. And when you doubt your own skill-set, you lack the motivation to try.

If you can’t seem to make people care about their work, how can you make them care about their own safety? First, you have to make them care about their work. That’s coaching. Safety folks and supervisors schooled only in safety, but not in management skills, are at a disadvantage. But it doesn’t mean they can’t do it.

Don't worry if you’re a little hesitant due to a lack of formal coaching or management skills training. There are strategies below.

Here are three ways you can start the ball rolling to connecting quality, and subsequently safety:

1Inspect don’t expect. As a front-line influencer, you are supposed to be the eyes and ears of quality. Stop by periodically and inspect their work. If they are falling short on work quality, ask them if they think that the quality of the work is their very best. People will immediately either defend it or ask what you mean by that statement. Either way, you’ve got their attention and you get a conversation going based on the subjects of quality and effort. That’s a conversation that leads into pride in quality of work. From there, the connection to safety is easy.

2Ask them if they are feeling rushed to perform. Sometimes employees feel they have to keep up with their higher-skilled, more experienced co-workers. So, they rush through their work missing several quality points. The employee may believe that you’re more concerned with quantity than quality. When the rush is on, safety takes a back seat. So, pump the brakes a little. Re-focus on quality. Quality means looking after the details and details take engagement. Safety follows engagement.

3Acknowledge what they are doing well. Look for parts of the employee’s work that you admire. Admiration and recognition get employee focus. Focus and engagement bring quality. Once you’ve helped the employee feel proud of their work, springboard to tying it to safety. Pride in achievement and pride in self are closely linked. If you can get an employee to feel good about their contribution, they are more likely to buy-in to safety as a way of preserving their pride.

The healthcare industry has known for years the integrated relationship between quality and safety. It is impossible to deliver high quality work while employing low quality safety. High quality work combined with high quality safety results in a workplace with a lot of pride in what and how they do things. When you focus on quality, engagement and safety follow.

Get Kevin To SpeakKevin Burns is a management consultant, international thought-leader in workplace safety, and a speaker based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Kevin has authored ten books on human performance and safety, including his most recent release, PeopleWork - The Human Touch in Workplace Safety. Buy his new book on Amazon. Then, consider bringing Kevin's consulting expertise to your company or have him speak at a future safety event.

©2017 ZeroSpeak Corporation and Kevin Burns.
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Topics: kevin burns, safety culture, safety buy-in, safety apathy, peoplework