What is Safety Leader?
As a business or safety leader, you know how important it is to have a high functioning workplace safety culture. After all, if you have an optimal health and safety culture, it means fewer accidents, which also translates into high productivity and job satisfaction levels.
Yet, some savvy managers realize that even though their safety record looks excellent, there is still something amiss.
It can be little things like staff seem to go blank when safety is discussed, or one site keeps having the same injuries, despite training.
When companies mention these often seemingly minor issues to me, I ask, “How engaged are your supervisors in safety?” With a bit of thinking, they will say, “Well, I did find the supervisor driving the forklift with the forks up the other day” or “We have supervisors that just don’t know how to engage people during their safety meetings, people get really bored.”
Research has found that supervisor leadership skills drive safety performance.
In other words, the values supervisors place on safe work practices determines the level of safety at your organization.
What this means is that you could be the CEO diligently delivering engaging safety speeches every month to your staff or the safety professional who creates lovely safety theme communication messages, and then you wonder why nothing changes. Safety attitudes and behaviors throughout the company remain unchanged, with interest and safety accountability levels falling by the wayside.
What Determines Good Leadership Qualities in Supervisors?
Your supervisors drive:
- productivity levels,
- job satisfaction levels,
- skills performance, and of course
- safety performance.
What supervisors demonstrate and request from staff, influences the level of safety at a worksite.
This means that if you have unusually high turnover, job satisfaction levels, questionable productivity outputs, staff being disinterested in improving their skills or poor safety performance, start looking at your supervisors.
As a senior leader, assuming that you’re providing lots of positive safety communication information, a safety goal and metrics, safety meetings, operational equipment, safety training, risk assessment, and safety systems, then it’s not you, it’s your supervisor.
Supervisors are the Linchpins in the Organization.
They also allow for positive communication between senior leaders and frontline staff, so if your new initiatives are falling on deaf ears, it’s because your supervisors aren’t buying into your proposals. You actually need to get them onside and ask them how to present the information first.
By consulting your supervisor about what they think of your initiative, why you’re introducing it, what you expect from them, what they would improve and the best way to communicate it, you will start to encourage their involvement meaning that they will be more likely to encourage others to accept it.
To see what other subtle signs indicate that your supervisor is damaging your culture (whether intentionally or unintentionally), try to audit your supervisor skills and find out where they need training.
Use a checklist for auditing whether your supervisor is increasing or decreasing your safety performance.
If you discover that your supervisor or supervisors are performing superbly, take them out to lunch and let them know what a good job they’re doing.
But if you find out that they are subtly contributing to declining safety or productivity performance (they’re both linked), then consider signing them up for a training course such as Supervisor Leadership Skills for a Safe Workplace, which we have created to train supervisors on the 9 Connect and Collaborate skills to improve safety performance.
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