After a lifetime of consulting with companies on how to improve their safety culture, Shawn Galloway, President of ProAct Safety revealed his secrets at the Safety Leadership Conference (SLC 2018) in Louisville on Nov. 7.
In his keynote address, he told safety professionals that they need to examine how they can improve their leadership style. He believes that great leaders:
1. Always find a better way of thinking
2. Couch for performance
3. Understand influences and motivation
4. Think strategically and keep the most important things most important
Applying these methods to safety requires understanding the three main components of safety; knowing the risks, knowing what precautions to take and talking about precautions on a regular basis. Implementing these behaviors from a coaching perspective is the most effective, Galloway says.
“How sick and tired are you of all of the positive feedback you are getting?”he asked the audience making the point that safety professional tend to focus on letting employees know what they did wrong rather than what they did right.
If safety professionals coach for the performance they want rather than the results, it will lead to improved results, Galloway explained.
He employs three methods in his coaching:
- Focus- what is the performance you want
- Feedback—encourage effective future performance
- Facilitiate—make it easy for people to be successful
Galloway provided an interesting example of how to coach for performance when he showed a sign that he saw on a highway that measured seat belt use in the county. The sign listed the compliance in the most recent month of 89% and also included the record for the county at 95%.
The clarity of this sign should be the same clarity that safety professionals use when communicating safety policies to the staff. In order to shape behavior, he says you need to let the staff know exactly what you want them to do and what happens when they do it and what happens when they don’t.
And taking into account the personal side of safety is a particularly effective way to embed safety into a culture.
He told the story of a tragedy where a man was struck and killed by a moving vehicle at a site. After that, all plants across the country were instructed to wear reflective clothing. While not every plant complied the one in Ireland had 100% compliance. When he inquired why he was told that the man killed was a friend of the plant manager who explained to his staff who this man was and how valuable he was to the company.
Strong leadership is an evolving process says Galloway. “Think differently about your role as a leader and how you affect others.”