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....
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.