Leading change in any domain is a challenge. Hurdles present themselves in numerous ways including the following 8 common obstacles:
- Current culture
- Existing attitudes and systems
- Time and resource pressures
- Effective communication
- Variability in people
- Manager proximity
- Individual leadership effectiveness
- Maintaining focus and attention
All leaders face these challenges within various organisational domains (e.g. business, industry, politics, sport) but there are some basics that need to be right in order to drive any change. And good safety management is no different.
6 Good Safety Leader Attributes
Numerous research studies and real-world case study examples point to a number of effective leadership attributes that lead to success and sustainable culture change over time. Below are just 6 of many attributes that prove effective in helping to lead safety culture change effectively in your organisation:
- Establish the vision and be consistent in its execution: this is key to building trust throughout the organisation. Many leaders fail in establishing the initial Safety Vision and then remaining consistent in following that vision over time.
- Listen and engage people in the process: while gaining trust is extremely important, so too is how valued your people feel through participating in the safety vision process. Staff feedback is highly important and incorporating that feedback into the Safety Vision gives it a better chance of success.
- Set challenging but achievable process-goals: the vision is supported by process goals and these goals must be challenging, achievable and measurable in their delivery throughout each layer of the organisation.
- Empower safety champions: no initiative can be sustainable without sub-leaders/champions of that initiative. Ensuring that the front-line is equipped and empowered to ‘champion the cause’ in a transparent way will lead to success.
- Communicate the safety message effectively: once the vision is clear, process goals are set and safety champions are identified, the communication of the vision in an engaging and cooperative way is very important. Any vision needs constant feedback and refinement and the only way this is possible is to keep Safety Management living through interactive communication systems and support.
- Reward milestones achieved: everyone likes to be rewarded for their efforts and even token acknowledgement can go a long way to maintain motivation once targets are achieved. Even better, se if you can create competition and visual league tables to tap into your people’s intrinsic motivation!
Safety is a core and important part of any organisation and effective leaders are the ‘oil to that engine’. Incredible results are possible when Safety Culture is directed by competent leaders who win both trust and value throughout the layers of the organisation. Besides improved results in accident reductions and increased savings, Effective Safety Culture Leadership also results in increased productivity, staff morale and general well-being. So take on the challenge and be a transformational safety leader in your business!