Think outside the box to reduce the communication gap and help the Safety Culture grow in your organization
A Shift in Thinking & Communicating the Safety Message
To overcome this blockage, organisations need to think outside of the box. The shift needs to move from seeing safety as external to the individual, to viewing it as an internal mechanism. With this shift in thinking, one clearly sees that driving home the safety message through traditional, compliance driven, box-ticking communication methods cannot possibly be effective in the long-term. It is not to say that compliance is not required, because it certainly is, but it is not enough and it definitely does nothing to create a sustainable safety culture. Communication must actively involve people around processes, must give operators real local ownership, must define real expectations and must be a two-way street where authentic feedback is both given and taken. Local risks (operational & behavioural) need to be prioritised and a people-based system is required to win hearts and minds over the long-term.
Attending to the Common Pinch-Point: Front-Line Management
Such innovative thinking along with the systems and tools to support it is immediately adopted by operators on the ground, who finally feel valued, can trust the authentic feedback, and know what to expect. In theory and practice senior leadership tend to recognise this as best practice and will endorse such an approach however the critical pinch-point occurs at the front-line management level. This is where FLMs say ‘they don’t have the time’ or ‘they can’t offer the proximity and engagement required’. So organisations need to spend time working on this pinch-point, through focussed training not just on the ‘what’ of ‘how’, but on the ‘why’ this approach is critically important to the organisation. Once there is a proactive, leading edge communication flow between senior management, front-line management and operators, the gap is reduced and a safety culture will begin to grow.
Sustaining World-Class Results
Because safety and security is so intrinsic within the human psyche and is high on most organisations’ priority list, when people begin to trust the message and feel like a valued part of the whole, other boats rise. Organisations report increased staff morale, decreased absenteeism and increased productivity and quality. The most important resource any organisation has are its people, and world-class systems can tap into this resource and motivate based on autonomy rather than obligation. This is when results become sustainable and a safety culture is allowed to grow.
“We understand that you can’t transform people who don’t have internal drive and desire to create. But we also know it doesn’t work to urge people to think outside the box without giving them the tools to climb out.”