Humanizing Safety is the title of the cover story in the most recent addition of EHS Today. In this article the authors (Terry Evans, Division Safety Manager at Wood Products and Troger Audino, EHS Practice Lead at Origami Risk) suggest 7 habits to help any organization do just that; Humanize Safety. At McCraren Compliance we believe safety is really all about people and proclaim our purpose as Creating workplaces where we all watch out for each other. As such we want to share our own spin (although pretty closely aligned) on the suggested 7 habits for humanizing safety:
- Be Authentic – “Mean what you say and say what you mean”, “walk the talk”, and “lead by example” are all common phrases that demonstrate what it looks like to be authentic. Positive productive relationships are built on trust. The quickest way to erode trust is to say one thing and then do something contradictory or to set an expectation that only applies to certain people. Alternatively demonstrating sincerity through consistent and meaningful interaction with your people in the places where the work is being done will quickly establish your credibility. See how the work is done, inquire on the obstacles to meeting expectations, ask the people doing the work for suggestions and collaborate on solutions. Show your people they are valued.
- Become Influential – Once trust is established through authenticity, you open the door to influence. Engage your people in both formal and informal settings. Ask for input and about their interests. Close the feedback loop by communicating back how input was utilized and/or considered. People will only share their thoughts if they believe they are being heard and their ideas are put to use.
- Be a Servant Leader – This style of leadership transcends the “management” approach by redefining the role of the leader. Instead of directing, allocating, and resourcing a servant leader’s primary role is developing, supporting and aligning people towards a common goal. The idea is creating environments and systems that facilitate individuals to be successful will advance the team and the overall organization. Investing your own time and resources into people will provide the greatest return.
- Focus on Long-Term Results – Recognize for both your self and the people you support that small changes will add up over time. Within the context of humanizing safety, keep track of the individual and small team interactions and chart them next to your overall safety results. Note worker specific levels of engagement and compare with safety performance. Over time you will see how authenticity, influence and servant leadership is reshaping your overall safety culture.
- Be Courageous – Recognize as a safety leader (whether you have the title or not) you are the link between company executives and the front-line workers. Put those servant leadership skills to work by advocating for the safety needs of the workforce. Own your expertise and echo the input of those doing the work to the decision makers. Be that voice even (and especially) in the face of resistance.
- Become a Data “Beast” – Whatever you measure and report is ultimately where you focus your attention. Therefore be sure your safety stats include human interactions amongst other leading indicators. Use data you get from hazard assessments, training, coaching, safety talks, achievements and certifications and share this data directly with the real people behind these numbers. People will be most interested in understanding the data trends for the metrics they can directly influence.
- Take Action – Put your knowledge to work; leverage your trust-based relationships and influence your workforce to see that “safety isn’t just part of the job-it is the job.”