Why Safety Leadership Matters

Safety leadership is about putting leadership skills into the hands of the people who are responsible for safety.

leadership03.jpgWhat’s that got to do with me? That is one of the first questions you ask yourself before you commit to doing something, or volunteering for something. You want to see the direct benefit back to you. Even in charitable giving you get a win. That’s why you do it.

Employees respond better to those things in their work where they can see the benefit of their own full participation. Show the employee his or her win and you will get their engagement. Safety is included in that.

Cut through the clutter

Everyone is busy. There are more than enough people asking for your attention and making demands on you each day. You have to be picky about the things that you give your attention to. You do not have an unlimited amount of energy or time. That’s why books and videos and articles and videos on safety get your attention. You have responsibilities in safety. You want resources that help you perform better at safety. Easy peasy. You pick the resources that speak directly to what you’re trying to do. There’s a win for you.

Safety people wouldn't normally buy a book or attend a conference or watch a video that was on Human Resources leadership, or real estate management or corporate culture. Oh sure, there might be some transferable nuggets of wisdom in them. But readers want to be sure that it will help them do safety better before they commit.



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Anyone in any profession looking to improve their performance is going to go to industry-specific learning first. People don’t want to search out non-industry specific information and “hope” they find a nugget or two. If something has been produced or written specifically for their industry, that has helped others before them in the industry, and can improve them in their job function today, that’s the information that will get digested first. Regardless of profession, busy people want access to something can help them immediately.

Generic versus specific skills

Can communication skills improve a CEO’s performance with his or her shareholders? Yes. Can that same set of skills help a front-line supervisor engage an employee better to empower the employee to want to embrace safety? Absolutely. Both jobs could benefit. But if they are listed generically as “communication skills,” they are less likely to get noticed. People want to know that what they are about to give their attention to can help them immediately. Something entitled, “how to improve employee engagement in safety” is more likely to be read by supervisors and safety people. The CEO would be more likely to read “A CEO’s guide to winning over your shareholders” even if it contained the exact same information.

We are too bombarded with messages, marketing and people trying to get our attention. It’s tough to cut through the clutter and find the right information unless it is labeled correctly. Just like the right label on a piece of equipment or machinery is important to an employee’s safety, you need to get to the right label on the right information as quickly as possible.

Real Estate professionals attend real estate conferences. Car Dealership managers read automotive industry-specific articles/books. Dental Hygienists attend dental hygienist conferences and read industry-specific articles. Dental hygienists don’t attend auto industry conferences hoping to hit on that nugget - even if it might be there. They want something that speaks to them and their job function. That’s why content aimed squarely at making safety people and supervisors better in the delivery of the safety program gets noticed and digested by supervisors and safety people.

Get their attention first

Why do we call it slips, trips and falls when we are laying out strategies and processes to help people be more surefooted? Could we achieve the same thing warning people to pay attention to what they’re doing and where they’re stepping? Slips, trips and falls is specific. Watch your step is generic.

Check out these titles on leadership and ask yourself which one, as a safety person or supervisor, you’d likely read first:

  • The Moral Foundations of Military Leadership
  • Principled Leadership in Mental Health Systems
  • Leadership-Driven HR
  • A Supervisor's Guide to Safety Leadership

Safety Leadership is specific

My Blog posts, podcasts and videos reference safety leadership. You’re not going to have to read, listen, or watch through to the end hoping you find a specific piece of information. I want to help you as a supervisor or safety person be more effective at your job. I create content specifically for you. You can then take that content, apply it and help your teams and crews deliver better, safer production. In my front-line speaking presentations at safety meetings, I help front-line employees to embrace safety leadership to accelerate their own performance in safety. 

the perfect safety meeting ebook Safety leaders want to help create more safety leaders among the team and crew members. Doing so will help make the job easier and benefit not just you, but the employee and the company as well. Safety leadership is about putting leadership skills into the hands of the people who are responsible for safety. Safety leadership: leadership for safety people.

Now, how can you put the right labels on your safety meeting content in a way that delivers exactly what your people are looking for from you and the safety program?

Kevin Burns helps safety departments, safety committees, management and front-line supervisors to accelerate safety programs. Through consulting services to create a personalized plan to accelerate safety teamwork, or a safety meeting speaking presentation to rally your employees around safety, Kevin helps improve engagement and teamwork in safety.

Kevin Burns is a management consultant, speaker and author of “PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety.” He believes that the best place to work is always the safest place to work. www.KevBurns.com

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Topics: safety leadership, kevin burns, safety buy-in, safety communications, peoplework