June 25 2017
By: Terry L. Mathis
I regularly see signs at site entry gates that state, "Safety Starts Here." What is implied? Do you possibly expect the back of the sign to state, "Safety Stops Here" or "OK, Relax Now!"? I regularly hear that supervisors stress safety during normal operations and completely fail to even mention it when production is behind on important orders. What is implied? Do you suspect safety is viewed as inconvenient and unnecessary, or that it takes a back seat to production? I see organizations adopt "Life-Saving Rules" or "Cardinal Rules" to stress importance. What is implied? Do you suspect the other rules are somehow less important now? Workers at a site where they labeled these "One-Strike Rules" told me they implied these rules were a way for managers to fire them without having to follow the usual HR guidelines.
Effective leaders carefully consider not only what their messages will say, but what they will imply. Sometimes defining a goal or objective involves also considering and designing the implications that can creep in between the lines and prompt workers to subtly receive unintended messages.
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.