Managing Upward

March 05 2017
By: Terry L. Mathis

At a recent seminar where I led workshops, I asked safety professionals about their greatest challenges. The issue mentioned most was convincing senior leaders to support safety efforts. There was no real resistance to the idea of safety, but there was no real understanding or strategic help either. Safety professionals are sandwiched between the workers they seek to help and the leaders whose help they need. The term "managing upward" was often used. They knew how to manage workers but not how to "manage" their boss.


True organizational safety is not something that leaders can fully delegate. Leaders who establish organizational strategy must ensure that safety strategy is not subjugated or in conflict with other strategies. The day-to-day work of safety can be delegated once strategic direction is set, but not before. The strategy of safety should flow from the top of the organization, not be created in the middle and have to fight its way in both directions.

Terry L. Mathis

Terry Mathis, Founder and retired CEO of ProAct Safety, has served as a consultant and advisor for top organizations the world over. A respected strategist and thought leader, Terry has authored five books, numerous articles, videos and blogs, and is known for his dynamic and engaging presentations. EHS Today has named him one of the '50 People Who Most Influenced EHS' four consecutive times. Business leaders and safety professionals seek Terry's practical insight and unique ability to introduce new perspectives that lead to real change.

Subscribe to our newsletter