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How do you help everyone take responsibility for safety?

safety Mar 10, 2022

As a coach, I firmly believe coaching is a key skill for anyone in a managerial or supervisory position if we want to get the absolute best out of our team members. 

But nowhere else is this as important as it is for safety professionals.

In some contexts, safety leaders have often been positioned simply as ‘the compliance people’. There’s a common belief that safety professionals just check off whether people are following the necessary policies, procedures and rules. 

However, more progressive companies within the construction and infrastructure industries have realised that there’s a better way to develop a safety culture.

Why do safety professionals need to be coach-like in their conversations?

While safety professionals have a wealth of industry knowledge, they have often not been taught the skills to coach people in taking responsibility for safety. Previously, safety meant endless amounts of on-the-job training, thick manuals, inductions, instructions and standard operating procedures.

And while these are safety-based applications, effective at keeping people safe, it’s not the most effective way of actually training our people to be safe.

But when safety professionals adopt a leader as coach approach, they empower their people to shine safely, instead of just providing them with a list of rules to follow.

How does this help? Well, by focusing on empowering workers rather than simply training them, we’re able to make sure they’re much better equipped to interpret signs around them, and view potential dangers and red flags easier and more confidently speak up about them. 

Empowering our team members to be able to notice potentially unsafe situations and speak up about it is much more effective at keeping them and their teammates safe, rather than expecting their supervisor to notice it. 

Solution Focus Leadership is the answer

By learning how to be more coach-like in their conversations and able to implement Solution Focus leadership, safety professionals can instead partner with their employees and help them step up to safety, to take on more of the responsibility in keeping themselves and their colleagues safe. This is done in a way that is both respectful and collaborative, where everyone’s thoughts and input is encouraged and listened to.

But rather than feeling like they’re being told what to do, the Solution Focus approach creates a sense of inclusion that we are all responsible. It helps them see that their safety is everyone’s responsibility, and that it’s not an impossible job – because to be Solution Focused means to focus on what’s already going right.

And the benefits don’t just stop at the team members. By adopting a Solution Focus leadership approach safety professionals can gain the confidence to be able to lead their team more  effectively, better capability in providing feedback in relation to safety issues with senior leadership, and increased empathy and emotional intelligence.

Safety professionals too often need to focus on what’s going wrong, which can create a sense of negativity and catastrophising. The empowerment that comes with Solution Focus leadership turns that around to focus on the positives, create safety, and encourage employees to be more confident in advocating for their own and their teammates safety. 

If you’d like to learn more about adopting a Solution Focus leadership approach, you can get in touch with me if you’d like to discuss organising Solution Focus leadership coaching and mentoring training for your organisation!

Until next time,

Annette xx

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