“And hey, let’s be careful out there.” It was the daily safety message of Sgt Phil Esterhaus, played by Michael Conrad, on the 1980’s police drama Hill Street Blues. It was just a TV show but Conrad played the part so well that for a moment you were in that squad room and you felt like Sgt Esterhaus really cared about the safety of everyone in the room.
That’s the difference. That’s what makes an effective safety program. It’s not the words that are said, the cute memes, the fancy posters on the wall. It’s leaders who care about their team, who really don’t want anyone to get hurt: leaders who understand that keeping the team safe is not just a requirement, but a critical leadership mission.
That means an effective safety program begins with effective leaders.
• A basic need that motivates people is a need to feel safe. If you clearly make every effort to provide a safe workplace you have taken a huge step toward creating a motivational environment. If you don’t, the need to feel safe becomes a primary motivator at the expense of team productivity.
• Your team members are not stupid. If they see the leader; you, mouthing the standard safety platitudes while obviously not caring about their real safety, the result will be a less safe workplace.
• Accidents have a monetary cost. Your team understands that and they won’t be surprised to hear you mention it. But, if that’s your only concern, you will not reach the level of workplace safety that really will lower costs.
Everyone knows that part of your job as a leader is to have a safety program. They know that accidents reflect badly on you and they expect you to tell them to be safe. But, a truly effective safety program doesn’t come from saying “And hey, let’s be careful out there.” A truly effective safety program comes from meaning it.
For short videos of this and other leadership tips go to Bob’s YouTube Channel.