In the second of our ongoing series of guest blogs, Harry Gallagher of 2Macs Safety, who specialise in the utilisation of engaging training techniques, outlines the importance of securing workforce engagement:
With Health and Safety being high on many organisations’ agendas it is not surprising that people often say to us “We talk about safety all the time”. It would, therefore, seem redundant for us to keep running programmes about how to have safety conversations if everyone is already having them.
Scratching a little deeper, however, can reveal just what a lot of those safety conversations are about. Most safety conversations our trainers encounter onsite are either functional or correctional. In a nut shell most people either ask about how the job is going (“Is the permit correct? Have you got your method statement?”) or they see something that is not quite right and correct it, (“Put your glasses on mate”). Now there is nothing wrong in finding out how the job’s going or putting something right, but are we missing a trick here? Well for a start, how about listening as much as talking?
Very often the people at the sharp end have a wealth of knowledge regarding safety in all areas of the organisation and know of problems or improvements we may never have never have considered. They may be contractors used to working in many different environments and have been exposed to safety innovations that could enrich our safety culture.
We will never know unless we ask them – and moreover, ask them in the right way. Our trainers are experts in the field of coaching effective safety conversations and they know that it’s only by fine tuning the communication skills of managers and supervisors we can tap into that rich seam of knowledge that lies below the surface in all organisations.
Approaching someone in ‘telling’ mode just isn’t good enough anymore. That’s why the best programmes focus on the key skills of Impact and Influence. These are absolutely essential to effectively engage people. And it’s only when people are really and truly engaged that they begin to open up about the knowledge they already possess. And you’d think after all the time we’ve spent at work that everybody would be experts at it by now? Wrong! Effectively engaging people through a coaching approach is a specific but learnable skill which, in our experience, can be sadly lacking in many organisations. But guess what? As well as being a great one to learn, it’s also great fun to learn – and once you can do it, it will revolutionise your company’s safety performance.
So get your thinking cap on and figure out how you can best engage those that you’re trying to influence!
If you have a story, an experience, or even a view point to share, that relates to health and/or safety, we’d love to hear from you. Please send your blog to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our very best to share it!