September 13 2021
By: Shawn M. Galloway
If safety is just as important as or more important than production, how many days a year do your leaders personally dedicate to the pursuit of safety excellence? Let's go further. Spending time on safety isn't the goal, it is spending it wisely on the right things that create value both for safety performance and the culture. How much time do your executives as a team make for safety strategy? What percentage of the safety strategy do they own compared to the safety leader or team of safety resources?
Very few companies that are on the path towards world class do not have some sort of goal or measurement around employee engagement or at least participation. Several clients have point system as a part of a participation index where employees are tracked and even rewarded because of their individual or collective proactive contributions towards creating an injury-free outcome and culture of safety excellence. Not as many have such a system for measuring involvement of management or executives. Yet, "safety is a value and more important to me than our production numbers," is a variation of language often overheard by leaders. Here is the participation leaders should be held accountable to, influencing both hearts and minds and hands and feet, and setting and executing on the business safety strategy.
If safety is to become a shared value, those are created when specific beliefs are created at or near the point of decision. Management may set the direction and attempt to set the tone, but supervisors ultimately set the real priorities. Management must be periodically embedded near the work to ensure their values and edicts are being heard and the voices of the workforce are not being filtered. Leadership intent and behaviors must match in the experiences of the workforce.
Strategy is difficult. Priorities result from decisions. "No time for strategy," is a poor decision. Again, if safety is to become a shared value, you cannot delegate it. Senior leadership must make sure the safety strategy supports the overall business trajectory, thus strategy creation must not be delegated to, nor owned by safety. It has to be led from the top and operationalized by line leadership.
So you say safety is personally important to you and the company you lead. Do your behaviors support this?
"Credibility is a leader's currency. With it, he or she is solvent; without it, he or she is bankrupt." - John C. Maxwell
Shawn M. Galloway is CEO of the global consultancy ProAct Safety. He is a trusted advisor, professional keynote speaker, and author of several bestselling books on safety strategy, culture, leadership, and behavior-based safety. He is a monthly columnist for several magazines and one of the most prolific contributors in the industry, having also authored over 700 podcasts, 200 articles, and 100 videos. Shawn has received awards and recognition for his significant contributions from the American Society of Safety Professionals, National Safety Council's Top 40 Rising Stars and Top Ten Speakers, EHS Today Magazine's 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS, ISHN Magazine's POWER 101 - Leaders of the EHS World and their newest list: 50 Leaders for Today and Tomorrow, Pro-Sapien's list of The Top 11 Health and Safety Influencers and is an Avetta Distinguished Fellow.