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The Safety Leader Podcast

The Safety Leader Podcast introduces the next level in safety. A safety leader takes safety beyond rules compliance to a shared goal that recognizes the importance of each individual on the job. Supervisors and safety people are uniquely positioned to become safety leaders and to bring workplace safety past compliance and across the threshold to where safety becomes personal. The front line is where the culture of an organization is made and reinforced. Past all the processes and procedures are people. Safety starts with people. I commit to you to give you my best ideas, tips and strategies to help make your job as a supervisor or front-line safety person easier and more effective. That's what the Safety Leader Podcast is all about.
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May 22, 2017

http://www.kevburns.com

Safety improves when engagement improves. Engagement improves when supervisors and safety people make it a point to value the people that they work with. On this episode, 6 areas to start building a better safety culture.

An untrained or under-skilled supervisor or safety person tends to get the basics done. Nothing more. Get production. Stay within the safety rules. Everybody goes home safe (fingers crossed). Job done. Except, the job is not done. In fact, it could be argued that job is systematically being undone. If you’re focused on just getting it done, you may be missing the biggest part of the safety picture.

A 2014 TINYpulse survey revealed the top ten list of things employees want from their work. Number 7 was money. There are six things that are more important to employees at work than money. Give employees these 6 things and you begin to change the corporate culture. Once you begin to shift the corporate culture, safety culture shifts with it. Supervisors and safety people have a great deal of control over both.

Here is the list of six things that employees want more than money and what it means to safety.

Kevin Burns is a management consultant, safety speaker and author of "PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety." He is an expert in how to engage people in safety and believes that the best place to work is always the safest place to work. Kevin helps organizations integrate caring for and valuing employees through their safety programs. Learn moire about Kevin's book at http://www.kevburns.com/peoplework

May 15, 2017

Episode 25http://www.kevburns.com

Helping employees overcome their tolerance to safety rules paves the way for them to see their own win for buying-in to safety. On this week's episode, how tolerance to safety rules may be worse that complacency.

 

Tolerance should become a serious consideration for supervisors and safety people. We all know that there has been plenty of talk about the hazards of complacency in safety. And the whole complacency conversation is gaining attention. But when you look for the actual definition of complacency, what you read may surprise you. Here's what the Merriam-Webster dictionary had to say about complacency: Complacency is self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies. In other words, when people get comfortable with their performance, they may pay less attention to risks. And when people are satisfied with their performance, there is a risk of complacency.

Tolerance, on the other hand, is the willingness to endure rules and procedures no matter how annoying they may be or how much you may disagree with something. When safety becomes an annoyance that needs to be tolerated, you are moving away from building a strong safety culture.

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Kevin Burns is a management consultant, safety speaker and author of "PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety." He is an expert in how to engage people in safety and believes that the best place to work is always the safest place to work. Kevin helps organizations integrate caring for and valuing employees through their safety programs. http://www.kevburns.com/peoplework

May 8, 2017

Ep 24 - Effects of Respect, Optimism and Happiness on Safety Leadership

On this episode, we will explore more of the Traits of Safety Leadership. This is Part 3. This time, the Effects of Optimism, Respect and Happiness.

Nothing affects an employee’s engagement levels more than the supervisor or manager (including safety people). The example set by the supervisor, safety person or manager is key to establishing the tone and culture of safety at work.

Overbearing, critical and negative-focused supervisors can take their toll on employees. And these supervisors and managers cause employees to lose their motivation.

This week, I want to offer you three softer skills that can connect you to employees in a way that gives them what they want from the job. This will help you build a better team relationship and create more influence in buying-in to safety.

Kevin Burns is a management consultant, safety speaker and author of "PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety." He is an expert in how to engage people in safety and believes that the best place to work is always the safest place to work. Kevin helps organizations integrate caring for and valuing employees through their safety programs.

Buy Kevin's book PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety

May 1, 2017

Episode 23Ep 023 - Traits of Safety Leaders - Part 02

We are continuing to talk about the traits of safety leadership and on this episode, the next three traits you need to acquire. Safety leadership has little to do with position or title. You don't need to be in a management or in any kind of a supervisory position to be a leader. In fact, some of the best leaders are just ordinary employees who happen to be extraordinary people. They just happen to possess certain personality traits.

Safety leadership is about the decisions you make and the example you set for others to follow. To become a leader requires more than how many years you've been on the job or what kind of seniority you have in the company. Leadership is the right collection of specific personal skills and traits that is led by a lifelong commitment to self-improvement. Leadership is about being outward-focused; your level concerned about the well-being of others and how you help them to be better.

In the last episode we featured the first three traits of safety leadership. So, on this episode, we start at #4.

Kevin Burns is a management consultant, safety speaker and author of "PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety." He is an expert in how to engage people in safety and believes that the best place to work is always the safest place to work. Kevin helps organizations integrate caring for and valuing employees through their safety programs.

Apr 24, 2017

Episode 22Do you have the traits of a safety leader? Let's start to find out. On this episode, the first of a series of podcasts on the traits of safety leaders.

Leadership requires no title or position. In fact, some of the best workplace leaders are just ordinary employees who happen to possess certain traits that causes others to look up to them and to seek their advice. Leaders are not managers necessarily although some management people may actually have many of leadership skills that this series of episodes is going to outline.

Do you have the traits of a safety leader? Why not use this series of episodes on safety leadership as a self-assessment tool to determine how well you score? Here are the first three traits of safety leaders.

Kevin Burns is a management consultant, safety speaker and author of "PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety." He is an expert in how to engage people in safety and believes that the best place to work is always the safest place to work. Kevin helps organizations integrate caring for and valuing employees through their safety programs. http://www.kevburns.com

Apr 17, 2017

Are you aware that a front-line supervisor has more influence on safety performance than senior management? On this episode, we're going to discuss how front-line safety leaders can harness that influence to improve safety culture.

The front-line supervisor, as the name would imply, lives at the front-line. And as a result, the front-line supervisor has more frequent contact with front-line employees - far more contact than anyone in a senior management position. That affords them the opportunity to have more influence in the safety culture at the front-line than senior management ever would.

For the supervisor, it’s imperative that they understand that authority and influence are two very different things. Anyone can be the boss and throw their authority weight around. That takes no skill or talent ... or even confidence when you think about. Influence, though, takes a lot of skill and the right mindset. So, what comes first? Skill or mindset? I would say mindset because it will determine how you acquire your skills.

Here are three strategies to adjust your mindset so that you, as a front-line supervisor or safety person, a safety leader, can develop better influence.

Kevin Burns is a management consultant, safety speaker and author of "PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety." He is an expert in how to engage people in safety and believes that the best place to work is always the safest place to work. Kevin helps organizations integrate caring for and valuing employees through their safety programs.

Apr 10, 2017

Two years is a long time to be trying to get it right as a supervisor. Especially when it comes to safety. On this episode, the three C's to becoming a better safety supervisor.

Does your workplace take the most senior employee in a crew and promote that person into a supervisory position? And then leave them to hang without skills, training and basic supervisory tools? Has it maybe happened to you?

You know, there's a sense of irony that your company requires any employee or contractor on your job site to have proper training to operate a piece of machinery? But to supervise the people who are actually operating the machinery doesn't require any supervisory training?

Workplaces want their supervisors to mentor and coach the younger, less-experienced workers. But a lot of those same supervisors don’t get the skills and tools to do the job with any kind of competence. It can take a new supervisor up to two years to find his or her own workable management style.

So, let's see if we can't shorten that two-year curve. Here is a 3-part formula to improve your effectiveness as a supervisor or safety person. Each part of the formula starts with the letter C.

Kevin Burns is a management consultant, safety speaker and author of "PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety." He is an expert in how to engage people in safety and believes that the best place to work is always the safest place to work. Kevin helps organizations integrate caring for and valuing employees through their safety programs.

Mar 30, 2017

http://www.kevburns.com

One of the most pursued issues by safety people is getting employees to commit to the safety program. On this episode, 3 ways to get better commitment to safety. 

You need commitment to safety from especially the front line employees. Here's why. The majority of safety incidents happen at the front line. The largest numbers of workers are at the front line. The most amount of activity is at the front line. And so it's at the front line where the focus on safety needs to take place. It is at the front line where safety leadership is needed most.

Now, let’s be clear. Leadership is not another word for management, even though managers hijack the word and use it interchangeably with their own title. The truth is, you don’t need to have a management title to be a leader. In fact, some of the best job-site leaders have no title at all.

Every employee is quite capable of demonstrating some form of safety leadership. There are three more areas where you can get to work to build employee commitment to safety.

Kevin Burns is a management consultant, safety speaker and author of "PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety." He is an expert in how to engage people in safety and believes that the best place to work is always the safest place to work. Kevin helps organizations integrate caring for and valuing employees through their safety programs.

Mar 22, 2017

http://www.kevburns.com

People cannot recall everything they are exposed to in a single message but for some reason, safety people think they are. On this episode, we're going to explore some strategies and ideas that commercials on the Super Bowl can teach us about building better safety communications.

People are simply not able to recall everything they are exposed to in a single message. But for some reason, safety people think they are. That’s why so many safety meetings feature full information-dumps and endless streams of bullet-points in the hopes that meeting attendees will be able to work through, figure out and distinguish the urgent, from the important from the filler material.

The purpose of a well-designed marketing strategy is to get people to take a specific action. That's what TV advertisers want. That's what you should want for your safety program. What is the action that you are expecting from your safety meetings and communications?

The answer to that question is part of your overall safety marketing strategy. Here are three things you need to include in your safety marketing.

Kevin Burns is a management consultant, safety speaker and author of "PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety." He is an expert in how to engage people in safety and believes that the best place to work is always the safest place to work. Kevin helps organizations integrate caring for and valuing employees through their safety programs.

Mar 19, 2017

http://www.kevburns.com

On this episode, how using negative tools will never build a positive safety culture.

Do you think that by using guilt, fear and manipulation, your people can get a really good sense of how much they are cared for and valued? Safety has to get a new tactic. They've got to get past the lazy effort of downloading anonymous Internet photos of injury, guilt and fear-inducing videos, and “don’t do what he did” stories of workplace injury. Because it doesn't work.

Scaring people straight may work for troubled teens when they visit prisons. But fear and guilt are no way to honour mature adult employees with families at work. Your people deserve so much better than that, don't they?

You know, it's ironic that you have will hold your spouse and children in your arms and tell them that you love them and care about them deeply. But then you force your good people, who you also say you care about, to instead, sit through gut-wrenching sessions of fear and guilt. Do you think that's an effective way to let your people know how much they are valued and cared for?

Resist the temptation to download Internet videos and photos to shock your people into compliance. That’s not leadership. In fact, it’s particularly bad management. It’s negative and negativity is never uplifting. It’s de-motivating and drives down morale.

So what do you do instead? Well, here are three positive strategies you can start to implement immediately to take your safety culture in a more positive direction.

Kevin Burns is a management consultant, safety speaker and author of "PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety." He is an expert in how to engage people in safety and believes that the best place to work is always the safest place to work. Kevin helps organizations integrate caring for and valuing employees through their safety programs.

Mar 3, 2017

http://www.kevburns.com

As safety continues to move away from enforcement and a lot closer to engagement, on this episode, we’re going to look at a 3-part strategy to create better buy-in to the safety program.

One of my clients recently brought up the DSL Strategy in my book, PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety (page 115 if you’re following along). It’s in Chapter 6, “Creating Employee Buy-in.” We talked a bit about the DSL strategy in more detail because it is intended to be used in place of the “shock and awe” campaigns of gruesome photos, gut-wrenching videos and stories of “don’t do what he did.”

Safety has traditionally been focused on pointing out what workers could lose if they make decisions outside of safety: a limb, an eye, their life. These gruesome images and threats are found more at safety meetings than anywhere else in the safety program. There are still some safety folks and supervisors that really believe that this stuff is some sort of effective motivator. But scaring people into compliance only gets temporary compliance with rules.

If you’ve not had the chance to read Chapter 6 in PeopleWork and all about the DSL Strategy, here’s a brief overview.

Kevin Burns is a management consultant, safety speaker and author of "PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety." He is an expert in how to engage people in safety and believes that the best place to work is always the safest place to work. Kevin helps organizations integrate caring for and valuing employees through their safety programs.

Feb 27, 2017

http://www.KevBurns.com

Have you ever noticed that the people we seem to respect the most are the ones, the leaders, who are not afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves? On this episode, we are going to talk about soft-skills in safety and how heartfelt safety is a real thing.

We are connecting with our hearts more than ever before; including how we connect with each other at work. our people care about things that make their communities better, and uplift people who need a hand and they are connecting with their hearts more than ever. Does your safety program connect with your people in the same way? If it doesn’t, you’re missing the bigger picture to connect your people to a common cause that looks out for each other.

In safety, while your technical skills may get your foot in the door, your soft people skills are what will keep you there. Your ability to empathize, to connect and to feel are the soft skills that will help you excel as a leader. Problem-solving, motivating, and team building are all much easier if you have good soft skills. Knowing how to get along with people, a positive attitude and genuinely caring are skills crucial for success.

Kevin Burns is a management consultant, safety speaker and author of "PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety." He is an expert in how to engage people in safety and believes that the best place to work is always the safest place to work. Kevin helps organizations integrate caring for and valuing employees through their safety programs.

Feb 27, 2017

http://www.KevBurns.com

But wait. There's more. The words you hear in those awful late-night infomercials. And if you think that's what marketing is, on this episode we'll show you that safety marketing is actually what creates value and motivates people to action without the cheesy lines.

Communications inform. But marketing moves. And this is where most safety programs make their biggest mistake. They assume that informing people, the communications part, is enough. But it isn’t.

Here are three strategies that can get you started in improving your safety marketing effectiveness.

Kevin Burns is a management consultant, safety speaker and author of "PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety." He is an expert in how to engage people in safety and believes that the best place to work is always the safest place to work. Kevin helps organizations integrate caring for and valuing employees through their safety programs.

Feb 17, 2017

http://www.kevburns.com

When engagement is missing, so is quality, pride and, sadly, safety. On this episode, three ideas and ways to connect safety to quality and, of course, pride in a job well done. It really matters.

Kevin Burns is a management consultant, safety speaker and author of "PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety." He is an expert in how to engage people in safety and believes that the best place to work is always the safest place to work. Kevin helps organizations integrate caring for and valuing employees through their safety programs.

Feb 6, 2017

http://www.kevburns.com

On this episode, a little relief for safety folks who have to put up with unproductive opinions that safety is the exclusive responsibility of the safety person. 

It's not unusual to hear from safety professionals that they still run into resistance from some members of the supervisory staff or even upper management that safety is the responsibility of the safety person. Most of this is usually centred around who does the paperwork, who fills out the forms and who handles reporting procedures. Nobody likes doing paperwork. People hate having to do more of it.

And while there are paperwork requirements associated with safety, some supervisors and foremen still want the safety people to handle the safety conversations or to apply the rules. There are far too many people who still believe that safety is the responsibility of the safety department. That comes from not fully integrating safety into how we train our people, supervisors included. There are still too many workplaces that separate production and safety and treat safety rules as an add-on to the existing procedures.

Here are 3 things you can do at toolbox and tailgate meetings or crew huddles to improve the level of personal responsibility on your job site.

Kevin Burns is a management consultant, safety speaker and author of "PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety." He is an expert in how to engage people in safety and believes that the best place to work is always the safest place to work. Kevin helps organizations integrate caring for and valuing employees through their safety programs.

Feb 1, 2017

http://www.kevburns.com/peoplework

Selling is about solving a problem or uncovering a benefit of safety in a way that makes people want to buy-in. So the question becomes, do you want people to buy-in to safety? If so, what are you prepared to do to make that happen? On this episode, we are going to deal with the beliefs and misconceptions about selling safety to employees.

It’s not about shoving safety down the throats of your people. It’s about helping them see that safety improves their lives in a way that they are probably not seeing it. Supervisors and safety people, you have to help employees see what safety does and can do for them. You can improve employee commitment to safety by understanding that selling safety is good thing.

Kevin Burns is a management consultant, safety speaker and author of "PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety." He is an expert in how to engage people in safety and believes that the best place to work is always the safest place to work. Kevin helps organizations integrate caring for and valuing employees through their safety programs.

Feb 1, 2017

http://www.kevburns.com/peoplework

On this episode, we're going to change how you look at safety meetings and help you get better at getting employees to buy-in to the safety program. 

Taking a play from how to pitch to angel investors and venture capitalists, safety can make a pitch for buy-in to the safety program by shifting how they do meetings. Instead of looking at a safety meeting as a place to pitch stats, figures, reports and procedures, you should instead view your safety meetings as investment pitches. Safety meeting attendees become potential investors.
They either buy-in to what you're selling or they reject your idea.

You have to show your potential investors that your idea and plan improves their lives and their work. If you want to build a solid safety culture, you’re going to need employee buy-in. And to get investors to buy-in, you need to work on three things specifically that can help your cause and secure your investors.

Kevin Burns is a management consultant, safety speaker and author of "PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety." He is an expert in how to engage people in safety and believes that the best place to work is always the safest place to work. Kevin helps organizations integrate caring for and valuing employees through their safety programs.

Feb 1, 2017

http://www.kevburns.com/peoplework

Safety meetings are typically information dumps and are full of all of the ineffective things that other people use in their safety meetings. Those meetings don’t get results. Then there are engaging safety meetings, ones that build teamwork and motivation for safety. Which ones are you organizing?

My new book, PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety features two full chapters dedicated to building better safety meetings as part of an overall strategy to help build a better safety culture. Part of the overall strategy for safety meetings should be a requirement to avoid mind-numbing and boring your people whenever possible. So, here are three top strategies for building effective and engaging safety meetings.

Kevin Burns is a management consultant, safety speaker and author of "PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety." He is an expert in how to engage people in safety and believes that the best place to work is always the safest place to work. Kevin helps organizations integrate caring for and valuing employees through their safety programs.

Feb 1, 2017

http://www.kevburns.com

Whether you want to get a good start on the New Year or whether you want to find a little nugget of information that helps you become more effective as a supervisor, manager or safety person, on this episode we are going to be exploring 3 ways to help supercharge your effectiveness. 

Supervisor, managers and safety people, you really do have a choice to make for the next year. You can choose to be only as good as you were last year; to allow yourself to be complacent in your learning and effectiveness. Or you can choose to supercharge your effectiveness this year.

Kevin Burns is a management consultant, safety speaker and author of "PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety." He is an expert in how to engage people in safety and believes that the best place to work is always the safest place to work. Kevin helps organizations integrate caring for and valuing employees through their safety programs.

Oct 12, 2016

What matters most is that everyone goes home safe each day.

Is making sure people go home safe really what matters most? Because if that’s what matters most, then it’s the least you can do. It's the bare minimum of things you are allowed to do by law when it comes to safety. You are not allowed to do less. You can be fined or jailed if you do less.

Employees have a basic expectation that their workplace and their employers will do what is necessary to protect them from harm. When you tell your people that what matters most is that they go home safely, they know that. That’s their expectation.

So really, is sending people home safely the most important thing you do each day? Or could you be doing a lot more?

Sep 22, 2016

In a perfect world, safety processes and procedures are definable and repeatable. But when you throw in the human element, process and procedure don’t always work. People are the most difficult variable to control. Every crew member should be valued as a person first. People know when they aren’t being valued, and it reflects in their work. Minimum standards in safety breed minimum standards in morale. If the focus is on achieving minimums, staff will only be inclined to do the minimum required to not get fired. 

Every crew member should be valued as a person first. People know when they aren’t being valued, and it reflects in their work. Minimum standards in safety breed minimum standards in morale. If the focus is on achieving minimums, staff will only be inclined to do the minimum required to not get fired. 

When people feel appreciated and valued, they have reason to feel proud of their work. When they know that their employer stands by them and is willing to go the extra mile to ensure their safety, they’ll go the extra mile on the job.

Never will your best day, the day in which you are most proud, be a day where you shortcut safety.

So, the choice is either to police your people into compliance or to build a culture of safety that wins their hearts and minds. People don’t like being policed. No one does, but people do like being appreciated. As a motivational tool, hitting frontline workers over the head with a rulebook doesn’t work. In fact, it takes much less effort to let them know they’re appreciated. It’s much easier to get employees to buy into a safety program when it’s accompanied by real concern for individuals. 

People who feel appreciated have the tendency to want to stick around. Turnover and attrition drop in company cultures of appreciation. Loyalty to the employer rises. When people have loyalty, they have ownership. When you build loyalty, you reduce turnover.

The problem is that an inexperienced supervisor who doesn’t know how to motivate and develop individuals on the job, ultimately has a harder time getting the job done. If there is no strategy to continuously improve employees, there’s little chance of improving the organization as a whole, and that includes safety.

In fact, there are seven particular things that inexperienced and poorly trained supervisors and safety people do wrong. Let’s take a look at each of these mistakes....

Sep 5, 2016

If a safety issue doesn’t affect you directly, you may see the importance of addressing it but you may not feel the same motivation to address it quickly. Because the problem doesn’t affect you personally. If you’re not working directly at the front-line, you may not be motivated by the same things or in the same way that a front-line worker or supervisor is when it comes to safety.
Every moment spent in an office, and not in the field or on the shop floor, is a moment that you’re not experiencing what your front-line crews and supervisors are experiencing. When you talk about performance numbers at safety meetings, they don’t have the same meaning. They don’t resonate with your people the way they do with you.
If you want to connect with people at a level where they feel your commitment to safety, walk a mile in their shoes, or walk a mile beside their shoes. Walk where they walk. See what they see. Experience what they experience. 

Aug 29, 2016

In every job, regardless of position or title, there are people who are effective at the job. And there are people who may be qualified for the job, but not terribly effective.
Being qualified for the job doesn’t automatically guarantee that you’re going to be effective at it. You may have seniority, or your certification, or a love of safety. These don't guarantee that you'll be effective at the job.
The job of a safety person isn’t to be a hero or to save people’s lives. The biggest part of the job really is communication. Safety people and supervisors are supposed to influence, coach and mentor employees to make good decisions.
To become much more effective and make a bigger difference, understand that your people don’t need your protection. They need your guidance.

Aug 22, 2016

Safety has historically been kept at arm’s length from the rest of the organization. More often than not a department is organized and then they try to add safety rules to it. Safety is an afterthought. Safety needs to be the foundation on which all departments are built. Safety needs to be at the centre of the decisions we make.

What we’re doing now, enforcing rules and compliance isn’t working. People are still getting hurt. Because we’re talking AT people about work safety at work. We’re not talking WITH our people and their families about safety as a mindset and a way of life.

The good news is that a supervisor and crew can choose to set their bar higher and exceed the minimum safety standards. There is no law against exceeding the OH&S Code.

The first step is to stop viewing employees as replaceable cogs in a machine. Every crew member should be valued as a person first. People know when they aren’t being valued, and it reflects in their work and especially their attitudes.

When people feel appreciated and valued, they have reason to feel proud of their work. When they know that their employer stands by them and is willing to go the extra mile to ensure their safety, they’ll go the extra mile on the job.

People who feel appreciated have the tendency to want to stick around. Turnover and attrition drops. Loyalty to the employer rises. When people have loyalty, they have ownership – especially of the safety program. 

Aug 15, 2016

As a safety leader, you have a strong commitment to safety. Scolding your bosses on social media for a lack of commitment to safety accomplishes nothing. It displays a lack of respect for your co-workers.

Safety folks are convinced that safety can’t improve without senior management’s support and commitment. They believe that the safety department isn’t able to bring the safety numbers down until senior management gets on board and increases their commitment to safety. That’s not true. A perceived lack of commitment to safety from senior management doesn’t make your job impossible. It’s just going to be a little harder but not impossible.

Senior management is responsible for ensuring the health of the forest. Front-line supervisors and safety personnel are responsible for ensuring the health of each tree. And if the trees are healthy, the forest is healthy. Your job at the front line is to ensure the health of each tree. 

People who have strong values in safety don’t give up their values when there’s a push on for increased production. If they have strong values in safety, they won’t give them up and risk their lives. Those people are worthy of your respect as a supervisor or safety person. And it’s your job to make sure they adopt those strong safety values.

Supervisors and safety people, your job isn’t to criticize your senior managers for their lack of commitment. Your job is to develop your team and win in spite of senior management’s commitment to safety.

Another area where safety people lose the respect of employees when they utter “my job is to protect employees from harm.” That’s not the job at all. Your job is to put employees in a position to win more often. To be able to do that, you have to first gain the respect of the employees who are working with you. You have to accept that they are essentially good people wanting to do the right thing to ensure their own safety. They don’t need your protection. They need your guidance.

As a safety leader, you’re working with adults who have the ability to reason for themselves and to make their own decisions. Give them the tools they need to make great decisions in the field or on the shop floor. Give them the motivation to want to perform better. Help them engage in the choices they make. But don’t ever tell them that you’re there to protect them. That will make them feel inferior and that you feel they are better than they are. You will lose their respect by attaching a bunch of self-importance to the job.

 

In order for you as a supervisor or safety person to influence an employee, the employee must first buy-in to you. It's difficult to get buy-in to your advice and ideas if you haven’t first established mutual respect between you and the employee. It is hard for anyone to respect someone who talks down to them or hovers over them like a mother protecting her children. Employees don’t respect your title. They respect you, the person with the title. But only if you are worthy of respect.

People gladly take advice and guidance from people they respect. But, they dismiss the suggestions of people they don’t respect. So, if you want to be in a position to be able to influence and mentor the good people you work with, you have to get their respect first.

When one of the partners in a relationship talks down to the other, the relationship is doomed to fail. People need to feel valued. They need to feel that they matter. They need to feel important to the relationship, whether it’s a marriage or a work relationship.

You have to build trust between yourself and crew members. Where there is trust, there is respect. When there is respect, there is communication. Where there is communication, there is coaching and mentorship. And that’s when you can impart the good information that helps your people win more often.

It starts with your level of respect for the people you work with. Without respect, building a strong safety culture falls apart.

 

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