We often grant the quality of “leadership” to one person in particular–usually to someone in a visible, authoritative position. But when it comes to worksite safety, leadership requires more than just one person explaining the rules and regulations on a weekly basis. To keep everyone working safely, true leadership means inspiring better behavior and relying on individual notions of personal accountability.
Fostering worksite safety habits can often feel like building sandcastles at high tide. Today’s lecture on “best safety tips” often becomes next week’s scolding reminder with another reminder the week after that.
To create lasting habits from a position of leadership, we need more than just a strong tone. We need a little understanding about human nature. To encourage and maintain good habits, here’s where we start.
Lead By Example
Far from just a talking point, “personal accountability” is a demonstrated attitude and action. Good leaders abide by their own rules and, in doing so, inspire those around them.
From PPE to hardhats, spill cleanup to heavy machinery operation, a good leader demonstrates the habits they wish to see in others on the worksite. If we behave in a way that makes us look “above” or “too good” for our own rules, why should anyone else abide by health and safety regulations?
Focus on Short-Term Goals
Great ambitions begin by developing smaller, more manageable checkpoints to gauge our progress. By focusing on short-term goals (daily, weekly) rather than bigger, more abstract goals (monthly, yearly) we develop a framework for measuring our progress in a noticeable way.
If we want to lose 40lbs by beach season, setting a goal to burn off 8lbs a month may sound sensible. But if we change that goal to losing 2lbs a week, we give ourselves a narrower window of effort and dedication to concentrate on. The same reasoning applies to strong worksite safety measures.
By setting weekly goals for your workforce and reporting compliance to that workforce, you’re setting realistic goals that are easy to meet. These smaller goals become lasting habits down the road.
Times of transition can be doubly difficult if we’re combating bad habits at the same time. Ruling with an iron fist may seem appropriate when life and limb are on the line, but by fostering a supportive environment instead, we take the frustration out of change and give our workforce room for comfortable improvement.
By sympathizing rather than scolding, we keep our workforce engaged rather than alienated. Regular meetings to discuss progress, problems, successes, and failures can make your workforce feel heard and give you an opportunity to celebrate progress. Best of all, by showing support as a leader, you inspire others to support one another–increasing your chances at real change.
Make Change Convenient
Change is difficult enough without all the minor roadblocks and frustrations of existing protocol. The harder a new habit is to focus on, the less likely that new habit becomes.
As leaders, we’re in a unique position to change what needs changing for a smoother transition. If existing protocol makes new safety measures irksome, a small change here or a shift of responsibility there could make all the difference. If a tool, protocol change, checklist, or new sanitary station makes a better habit easier to access, then it’s our job as leaders to provide it.
As we adapt to change in the workplace, it’s important for leaders to remain vocal. In the early days, a tone of supportive, positive feedback can make all the difference. But as time goes on, constructive criticism may be required to encourage some late-adapters to take change more sincerely or push past that last little bit of difficulty toward making a new habit.
Whatever your approach, regular feedback keeps the new habit topical and convinces your workforce to take the proposed changes seriously. As a trusted leader, you set the tone. Silence can be confused for ambivalence, so speaking about new changes and habits can help keep them in the spotlight.
Your Turn to Lead
New habits aren’t developed overnight, and even the best leaders need their own help and support. To add a leadership and compliance expert to your corner, look to HealthSafe Safety Services. As industry leaders in OSHA compliance, HealthSafe has guided numerous workforces through times of transition.
Together with HealthSafe, you can demonstrate the best qualities of leadership and pass those qualities along to your workforce to keep everyone safe, productive; and ultimately achieving long term objectives.
Learn more about demonstrating good habits through leadership with HealthSafe Safety Services!
Keeping workers safe and workplaces accident-free is HealthSafe’s greatest mission. From safety consultations to worksite staffing, job site safety to OSHA compliance, HealthSafe has a 20-year track record of success. To learn more about how we can help make your worksite safer, fill out our contact form or give us a call at 1-800-290-4230. Let us help you find the right safety professional today!