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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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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.

 

Aug 9, 2016

Safety Leader? What is that?

Let's start with what a safety leader is not. It's not a position, it's not a title. It's not a management position. It's not bestowed upon you because you passed a few safety courses or because you are a certified safety professional. And it's not something that you will ever be called.

Safety Leader is made up of two parts: safety and leader. Safety is an attitude. It's a way of life, a mindset, a philosophy and a set of personal values combined with how much you believe that you are of value. People who believe that they are worth something, that they make a valuable contribution or they have a purpose for living, want to protect that which they do and who they are. They will adopt a safety mindset to protect themselves against anything that would harm them or the people they care about. Oversimplified, but that is safety - the attitude.

Leader is the second part. It comes from leadership which is also an attitude. Management is a position. Leadership is an attitude. You don't have to be in management or in a position of authority in order to be a leader. Leadership isn't about you, it's about them. Everyone else outside of you. Good leaders are focused on building other leaders; people who can make a difference in the lives of others. So when you combine this outward focus with safety to form the phrase safety leader, you are speaking about people who believe in safety, believe they and others are worth protecting and caring for and will work alongside to offer mentorship and coaching to build best performances in safety.

 

Alright, so what are we going to do with this podcast and what can you expect to get out of each episode. First, I make a solemn promise to you to keep each of these episodes short. I vow to not take 10 minutes of solid information and cram it into a 60-minute podcast and then fill the rest with fluff and filler. No, I know you're busy and so I promise to not take up a ton of your time. 

How did the Safety Leader Podcast come about? In talking with quite a few of my clients and connections on social media, I came to realize that many of my Blog readers worked on the road, in remote locations sometimes, from their mobile offices a lot and didn't have ten minutes to sit down and watch a video or read a few blog posts in succession. But you drive to work and you drive home from work. And sometimes you drive FOR work. It's those miles that can be made useful, where you can improve your skills as a supervisor or safety person to get better at helping others to be better at safety.

As a safety communications and management consultant, I’ve seen that when frontline supervisors buy into safety as one of their personal values, they better understand their role in keeping the workplace safe. The Safety Leader Podcast introduces the next level in safety. Workplace safety lies in the relationship between the frontline employee, the employee’s immediate supervisor, and the bond among the entire crew. Supervisors are uniquely positioned to bring workplace safety past compliance and across the threshold to where safety is personal. When trust and respect are the tools of frontline supervisors, their ability to personally influence frontline employees is deeply improved. 

I believe that the battle in safety is at the front line, not the head office. All the certified safety officers, VPs, and safety managers in the world can’t have the impact on safety of a single supervisor or front-line safety person and a solid crew. A rules-based approach to management doesn’t have the reach of smart coaching and mentoring for ensuring safety. Quoting the rule book, finding fault, and barking orders isn’t leadership. It isn’t even good management.

Over the past few years, I began to see clearly was that the relationship between a frontline supervisor and a frontline employee is critical to the health and safety of an organization. It’s where the culture of an organization is made and reinforced. Organizations thrive at the level of teamwork, camaraderie, solid work ethic and values. A good supervisor will keep a team together, while a poor supervisor will turn over staff. We all know people who’ve left jobs because of a lousy boss, even at good companies.

Sadly, most frontline supervisors ascend to their positions by virtue of being the most senior guy on the job. A lot of these supervisors don’t have any particular management or supervisory skills, yet they’re the ones in charge on site. They’re the ones who are supposed to keep the team together, keep them motivated and focused, make the right decisions, keep their crews safe.

To get safety right, they need to be armed with more than just a rule book of procedures. No one wants a safety cop looking over their shoulder while they work. Supervisors need the personal skills to become centers of influence.

I commit to you to give you my best ideas, tips and strategies to help make your job easier and more effective. That's what the Safety Leader Podcast is all about. I look forward to spending time with you.

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