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The Role of Boards in Influencing Safety Outcomes with Julie Garland McLellan

The role of boards in influencing safety outcomes

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“It’s the board’s job to be interested in safety, but it’s management’s job to be interesting when they talk about safety.” In this episode, Julie Garland McLellan shares excellent insights into how the board of directors can influence safety outcomes through intentionally observing where the work is performed day-to-day. To make certain everyone remains responsible for safety, leaders must get involved and show interest. Tune in as she emphasizes the importance of making safety real for the board by having authentic conversations that go beyond statistics in the boardroom.

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Real leaders leave a legacy. They captured the hearts and minds of their teams. Their origin story puts the safety and well-being of their people first. Great companies ubiquitously have safe yet productive operations. For those companies, safety is an investment, not a cost for the C-suite. It’s a real topic of daily focus. This is the safety guru with your host, Eric Michrowski, a globally recognized Ops and safety guru, public speaker, and author. Are you ready to leave a safety legacy? Your legacy success story begins now.

Hi and welcome to The Safety Guru. Today, I’m very excited to have with me Julie Garland McLellan, who is a professional director on boards and a consultant to boards and directors. And today, we’re going to have an interesting conversation on the importance of boards and the role they play around safety and safety culture. Julie, welcome to the show.

Thank you, Eric. The pleasure to be here. 

Excellent. So first, let’s talk a little bit about the role of a board in driving safety, because we’ve had many guests here talk about the role of senior leaders and how to convey it, but really want to understand how in your mind a role can a board really influence safety outcomes and safety performance and what’s their duty around it? 

Hmm. It’s interesting because I’m glad you used the word influence because boards are what is known as the men’s rhea in law or the ruling mind of the corporation. And they are also very fortunately for the company and very unfortunately for the directors, the people who will be punished for very bad corporate miss behaviours. So, the really interesting thing with companies is you can inject them not to do things you can in junked them that they must do things. You can find them, you can publish things about them, but you can’t take away their liberty. So, the one of the principal things with the board of directors is that they can go to jail so they have an unlimited personal liability for certain actions of the company. So, what that does, particularly around things like culture and safety, is it gives them a very strong incentive to push for or to influence for very high standards of performance and behavior. Doesn’t always work, but that’s the general theory. And the board, if you look at the board and you say, well, if management running the company, the board is making sure it’s run properly. And they have to decide what’s proper and what’s not. 

Right. And so, it becomes really important for the board to have an understanding of how safety is being overseen, different practices, the culture in different locations. And it gets to me in terms of the first question that started coming into is how do we make sure we’ve got the right composition on board, the right key people that understand what questions to ask? Because if you’re skewed towards too many laws, for example, or too many people from an insurance sector, they may not have some of the operational knowledge of that’s behind a lot of the safety culture themes. Or in theory, a board is diverse. In theory, you manage your composition to ensure that you look at your strategic plan. You say, what skills do we need around that boardroom table to govern this plan going forwards? And then you recruit directors with those skills. That’s the theory, the practices that large shareholders might nominate a director. So where, for example, you have a company in Silicon Valley, you might find venture capital funds or putting directors on the board because they own a significant piece of the equity. And then maybe the founder and a couple of the senior executives on the board, and you have a board that perhaps does not have any idea about things like harassment and bullying or discrimination, which are all aspects of your safety culture. They might not have a view on operations, particularly if they’re outsourcing manufacturing or construction. So, whilst there is the theory of composition and there’s still the duty of the directors to make sure that everything is safe in practice, a lot of boards don’t have those skills around the table, and that’s when you have to make sure that you draw on management or consultants in order to ensure that everything’s being done as it should be. 

Right. So first, maybe if we go into the composition, what would be the type of skills that ideally, you’d want to get to be able to inspect on inspect or influence around how an organization’s showing up on safety? And then let’s get afterwards into some of the themes around how do you augment if you don’t have the skill sets you really need within the board? 

Oh, yeah, that’s a good way of passing the issue. The first thing to do is, is I think it’s not so much a skill as an attitude. Good directors are insatiably curious, so we really want to know what’s going on and why and how and who and when and where and how often. So, if you’ve got directors with that sort of mindset, as soon as safety becomes a topic for discussion, which it should quite frequently, they’re going to start asking questions. And management never want to look bad in front of the board. So, management are going to start providing the answers. So particularly in companies where you don’t have the skills-based composition, it’s very important that you get the attitude so that you are asking the right questions and finding out about it.

But would it be beneficial to have leaders on a board that have maybe experience with other operational. Higher risk industries. For example, if you have an if you are operating within a higher risk industry. So, they maybe have a more of a hands-on understanding of safety and how it gets applied.

Yeah. Ideally, you want somebody with a hands-on understanding of safety in whatever industry or company type. You’re on the board of. So, if you’re on the board of a bank, I’d be looking to have somebody who’d spend a lot of time as an executive in the bank, both being employed and employing other people, and who understood about how bullying and coercion and things like that happen. If you were lending money to infrastructure projects, I’d expect to have somebody who understood how to contract those things so that safety became a key clause in the contract, and your contractors were therefore able to be held to account for it. If you’re running a manufacturing plant, then I’d want to see at least one person who’s run a process line who understands that sort of manufacturing because you get a feel for the things you’ve done. 

Right? Absolutely. And then having that questioning attitude of trying to understand and raise questions and check in in terms of the overall process. So, what you touched on a couple of themes such as the bullying theme, which is typically outside of what we talk about from it from a safety culture standpoint. Tell me about some of the broader themes that an organization should be looking at when it comes to safety, because safety used to be predominately around employee safety, which is the topic that we discuss on this podcast. But there’s other themes that are coming up around stress, burnout, public safety. There’s physical safety, there’s a cultural dimension. So, there’s a lot of different themes that a board should be asking about. Tell me a little bit about how you balance all those themes. 

Yeah, it’s it really is that question of asking those terribly difficult what if questions that nobody’s yet got a good answer to. But you look, for example, at that terrible case of a lot of airlines, think of safety in terms of passenger safety, plane safety. And then we had that terrible disaster where it looks like a a pilot who was very stressed, committed suicide with a plane full of U.S. crew. So as soon as you become aware that something is possible, asking questions about it and ideally asking questions before it’s happened, because you’re starting to be alert to the possibility. So that’s one way of teasing out the themes. The other thing is that a lot of safety reporting, it’s the board’s job to be interested in safety, but it’s management’s job to be interesting when they talk about safety. And very often you look at the safety reports and it’s, oh, well, we carried out a review of our risk register as required under clause 16 of the delegations of authority. And we discovered that everything was down here, and the poor board are just stunned into silence by this.

So, my advice is you make it real. You take the directors either as a group or as individuals out to an operation. You walk them around, you show them the health and safety equipment that people are using, hopefully are using, not the stuff they should be using but aren’t. Yeah, because that happens, and you find these things out when you walk around because right near misses are only near-misses if somebody reports them. Absolutely. Otherwise, they’re disasters that just haven’t happened yet. And the last time we chatted, we talked about Charlie Moorcroft. If somebody had seen him walking around without his PPE and said, hey, Charlie, that’s not what we do around here. And if I see you out here like that again, if somebody had seen him leaving the engine running and said, hey, Charlie, we don’t do that. The whole story would never have happened. Right. Which would be great for Charlie. Possibly a little sadder for all the people who’ve improved as a result of hearing his story.

But you only find that stuff by going out and asking. And then the other thing is when you are in your boardroom having those conversations and getting very real. So, I’ll often look at a risk mitigation and I look at that and I think, well, that’s. That doesn’t make sense. If you do that, that’s not going to change the consequence. It’s not going to change the likelihood. Right. Just words in a square on a spreadsheet or a document table or a database. It’s not going to work. And reading through most of the time as a board, you want to be at high level. But then every so often, you want to dive in and just pick something up and say, right, we’re going to go deep on this at this meeting. Let’s have a look at this risk. Let’s have a look at that risk. What are the likely failure paths in our safety management system? And what have we done to put roadblocks on all those paths so that people don’t take them?

So, one thing that is interesting, you talked a little bit about going as a board to where the work gets performed, which I think is an important theme to really understand beyond the boardroom what’s actually happening. How are people showing up? What are some of the questions that the executive that you should be asking an executive or asking an employee during a site visit to really get a sense as to what’s happening because they may be stunned if they see a board of directors’ member walking through and may not give you the full story. So, what are some of the themes that perhaps you should be probing on?

Firstly, I look. To see if this looks like a happy and purposeful environment. If people look miserable or they look like they’re a bit aimless or they’re panic stricken at the other end, those are not safe places, to be sure. So, I would ask questions, just general tidiness, and cleanliness. One of my boards a while back was an operating coal mine company, and I would not join the board without going underground and seeing the operations because it’s just too dangerous. You know, the wrong thing goes wrong. You’ve lost an entire shift and that’s a lot of people. So, there I was. And of course, I didn’t want the men to know that I was a prospective company director because they behave differently when they think it’s a direction. So right. This unannounced or this unexpected woman turned up with instructions from head office that she was to be safety inducted and taken down the mine. So fair enough. I went through my induction. Everybody was very polite. I learned for the 20,000 time how to use a rebreather and how to switch my light on and off and all that stuff, which is vitally important. 

And after a three-hour safety induction, I was okay to go down the mine with an experienced operator who knew the safety hazards at that time, or at least the known ones. You never know the unknown ones, but at least get as many as you can into the known arena. And I wasn’t allowed out of line of sight with this person. So, there I was down the mine with my mind, looking around, having a chat to a few of the people. And one of the old guys looked at me and everyone ran up to the minder and said, Who’s the little fella? Because they all know everybody underground well by sight. Right? And I was a lot smaller than they were expecting and my minder wouldn’t like it. So, woman from head office and eventually an older person who was more confident said so. Why are you here on the ground? And I said, well, I just wanted to see if it was a clean and tidy site. He said, it’s a coal mine. 

And I said, Yeah, but it’s a very clean and tidy coal mine. There’s no crack in the corners. There are no trip hazards in the in the walking passages. The roadways are clear. It’s well signposted. You’ve got the telltale. So, you know, if you’re going deeper or not, the fans, the ventilation, everything, everything looks good. And well, of course, that’s our job. And this is a good mine. When they see keeping that standard of operation as just. Well, that’s the way we do things. I was very happy to join the board. Fast forward a few years, the company had been doing very well. The board went on a site visit, and they knew it was the board and we came for our safety induction and the new safety manager said, Oh. You guys are all directors. You’ve all been underground before. Just find here that you’ve done the induction, and we’ll get going.

Oh, dear. 

Yeah, he. He was gone very quickly. And again, that standard you accept is the standard that you’ve set for everybody else. So, when somebody does something like that and you think, well, if they let the directors under. They’ll get somebody who’s come from another mind site. They might let you get out of sight. And it is easy to get lost underground, especially if anything goes wrong when it all goes dark. So yeah, we were we were really worried by that person. And we spent a lot of time talking to management about. How did it ever be okay for someone to think they could do that? Right. What have you guys been doing that gave that guy license to do that? Hmm. And those are tough conversations to have with your senior mine manager and your technical manager. But you have to have them because you’ve got to be serious. 

Of course.

Can’t be allowed. 

And I think that’s really important is it’s one thing to look at spreadsheets. It’s one thing to look at PowerPoint decks, but to actually experience how the work is performed. That’s where you see the nuances in terms of it. Are the safety practices and policies respected? Is complacency setting in? How is the organization really managing some of those risks? And so, the other part I know when we first connected, there’s a difference between influencing and getting hands on. Tell me a little bit about the difference in terms of how the role of the board, when is it too much, when you’re going too far versus when is it not enough in terms of the level of inspection? 

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I think the first thing to mention is. In America. In some states, you have this thing called the law of depraved indifference, which is if you see somebody in a situation that’s threatening and you do nothing, you’re actually guilty of a crime yourself because you were indifferent to their suffering. We don’t have anything like that in Australia, which is where I’m based, but I travel around the world, and I like that law. I think that’s a very useful thing. So, the first thing is if you see something that is clearly unsafe. You have a duty to speak out and it doesn’t matter if it’s your job or not. 

That sort of thing is everybody’s job. If you see something. And this is usually. More difficult. That could be an issue. And you want to investigate. That’s where the curiosity and the practical application of your knowledge has to kick in. So, it’s that question. I’m very keen on being efficient. So are most of the people working for us. But efficiency often comes with shortcuts and it efficient for a while until something goes wrong. So, understanding the process and just asking questions about, well, how do you handle this? How do you make sure that you’re still having your toolbox talks at 6:00 in the morning, in the middle of winter when it’s freezing cold, and everybody just wants to get going? How do you make sure they get through the full agenda and treat it seriously? And the answer is, usually somebody senior must go every so often and show interest whatever interests. The boss fascinates the workers. 

Of course. 

Absolutely. Showing that interest, getting involved. But as a board, you shouldn’t really be doing or enforcing or even setting the rules lower down. You should be delegating to the CEO who should be delegating to the line managers who should be supported by a properly empowered and trained risk and safety manager. I don’t like saying that the risk and safety manager is responsible because they’re not everybody’s responsible. They’re responsible for reporting and having the systems and processes for training and managing. But everybody else is responsible for applying those processes. So, there’s a lot of delegation, but delegation is not the same as abdication. If you delegate, you still must check that what you delegated got done. And so, when you talk about governance, boards are all about causing stuff to happen and then controlling and making sure that it did happen. And it happened in the right way. And it happened at the right speed. So, it’s that balance of making stuff happen and then reining it in so that it happens correctly.

Yeah, absolutely. So, you touched on global businesses, multiple locations. What are some of the considerations around some of those nuances that happen from country to country? Because it’s one thing to look at a business that’s only in one country, but when you’re around the world, multiple different location, multiple different cultures. What are some of the things that that a board member should be looking for in those instances?

Yeah. Again, I think it’s so important to get out there and to understand the culture of the company and the culture of the country in which its operating. Because sometimes things that look strange. For example, we had one of my previous businesses, we had steel mills across Asia, and we had a steel mill that had a pretty good safety record and others that weren’t quite so good. And yet when we went to the steel mill with the good safety record, they had English language posters on the walls about safety. You know, keep your back straight, bend your knees. All those simple but with English. And the others had translated theirs. And I said to the person who was taking us around, I said, this is very strange. Why are the posters in English the men can’t read the English? And he called the guy over and he said, all, you know, this person speaks a bit of English. And he said, so. Can you tell this lady the story of this picture?

Sure. They are whenever a new poster came out at their toolbox talk, they would give the person in the poster a name and they would tell you the story of what they did and how they got injured and how important it was to protect yourself. And this is what you have to do. And this person wants you to do these things to be safe. And so, every poster to them was a memory of a story. And they had this lovely culture of telling stories to pass on knowledge. So, they remembered stories. In fact, people do remember stories. We love stories. So, yeah, it’s part of being human. So, this was a great way of dealing with things. I had another case with the same company. We purchased a company in Austria, in America, and their safety statistics were excellent. But when we looked at their safety maturity, it was poor. They were probably between level one and two. So, between ad hoc and emerging. And they had holes in their gangways. 

They had safety rails with gaps. They had all sorts of to us ask terrible things. Right. And when I asked them about their safety, they said, you, you Australians, you’re so dangerous. You just never look where you’re going. And again, their safety was very socialized in. Watch out for this. Look out for that. Take care of each other. Whereas ours was much more systematized and process driven, and installation driven. And so, yeah, our people were a little bit lazy about looking out for themselves. And so, we then had a series of conversations with some of the senior staff about how interesting this was and that they wanted to share this story with their staff, because even in a very safe place, it’s possible to fall over and hurt yourself. It’s possible to pursue something. So, yeah, that was another good one. But there’s no substitute for governance by wandering about, particularly when it comes to safety and culture and seeing how people behave and what they do. It’s just fundamental. 

And I think that’s really the core message I’m hearing from you is you must go out and see. You must observe. You have to ask questions to see where the rubber hits the road. What’s happening. 

Yep. And you have to you have to get very real. You can’t just stop at statistics and theories. You have to say, well, how would this work in practice? Would I be able to do this? If that was me or my family down there working, would I feel happy? And the other thing is you do understand the business model. So, if you are, for example. Letting a contract to somebody to manufacture so many pieces of something and they’re doing it incredibly cheaply. And, you know, well, the oil price is high, the electricity price is high, their equipment’s quite new, so their capital costs and depreciation are probably quite high. How are they offering me this low price? Sure. Where did this price come from? What corners have they can’t in order to win the competitive bid? Because you usually let your business to the person who’s cheapest. Right. And very often that comes at a cost that is hidden until it comes home to roost. And as directors, we’re responsible for our global supply chains. 

We’re responsible for the standards up and down those supply chains. And we’re responsible for the safety of our people. 

Absolutely. So, Julie, thank you very much for coming on the podcast. Really appreciate you sharing some insights on this important topic of the role of a board in influencing safety outcomes. If somebody wanted to get in touch with you, how can they do this? 

Probably the easiest way is to look for me on LinkedIn. I’m the only Julie Garland McLellan on LinkedIn, strangely enough. But I do have a website. It’s called Director’s Dilemma. So just www. Director’s dilemma.com. And I do have a free monthly newsletter which talks about real practical issues, not just safety, but across the whole gamut of things that can appear in the boardroom from the point of view of the directors to whom those issues suddenly arise. 

Well, thank you very much for coming on the show. 

Thank you, Eric.

Thank you for listening to the safety guru on C-Suite Radio. Leave a legacy. Distinguish yourself from the pack. Grow your success. Captured the hearts and minds of your teams. Come back in two weeks for the next episode. Or listen to our sister show with the Ops Guru Eric Michrowski.

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ABOUT THE GUEST

Julie Garland McLellan is one of very few women to have commenced a board career with a single not-for-profit organization and built it to a portfolio of boards, including chairing an ASX listed company. Julie has chaired boards and committees and is respected for her practical experience. A frequent speaker at conferences, Julie is also a prized reference for journalists and has featured in ABC News’ Nightly Business Report, The Business Programme, The Australian Financial Review, The Financial Times (Britain), Company Director Journal, Keeping Good Companies, and other quality publications.

Julie has also more than 20 years’ experience delivering education programs for the Australian Institute of Company Directors and has written more than 14 courses for that institute. She has also developed and delivered director education for the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), Director Institute, Governance Institute of Australia, College of Laws, University of Sydney, CPA Australia, The Taiwan Corporate Governance Association, The Oman Centre for Corporate Governance and Sustainability, and Better Boards Ltd.  

In addition to her work developing director education Julie has continued to research and study directorship and most recently completed a course at Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania. Julie is the author of several reference books for company directors including two that have been translated into Mandarin and are the global best sellers in their topic category. 

Importantly, Julie is a qualified board reviewer and has conducted numerous reviews of boards, committees, and individual chairs and directors over the past 17 years. She has also won numerous awards including (twice) the Australian Institute of Company Directors Faculty award for contribution and excellence in governance education, the CPA President’s Award for Service and Excellence in Governance, The I E Business School Epic Award for Women Inspiring Women, and the Australian Business Award for Specialised Services in Board Advisory and Governance.

For more information: https://www.directorsdilemma.com/ 

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True leaders understand companies that are safe are more profitable and more productive. John Drebinger, professional magician and safety speaker, shares his insights with large companies through genuine inspiration, fun magic, and educational safety messages. In this engaging episode, he emphasizes the importance of giving employees a personal reason behind safety. People often don’t buy into the safety vision of an organization without the why. Through honest, subtle communication and intentional actions, leaders can convey the importance of safety messaging in a way that prompts everyone to take personal ownership.

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Real leaders leave a legacy. They capture the hearts and minds of their teams. Their origin story puts the safety and wellbeing of their people first. Great companies, ubiquitously have safe yet productive operations. For those companies, safety is an investment, not a cost. For the C-suite. It’s a real topic of daily focus. This is The Safety Guru with your host, Eric Michrowski, a globally recognized Ops, safety guru, public speaker, and author. Are you ready to leave a safety legacy? Your legacy success story begins now. 

Hi, and welcome to the Safety Guru. Today, I’m really excited to have John Drebinger on the show. He’s a safety motivational speaker, and also a trusted adviser to senior leaders on communication strategies. He’s worked with over 400 companies at 30 years doing this former magician has exceptional reputation in terms of shifting mindsets with all the organization he’s worked with by being fun and engaging. So, John, welcome to the show. 

Hi there. 

So, John, first tell me, how do you go from magician to passionate about safety and working with all these organizations driving amazing outcomes? 

Sure. Well, I still am a professional magician and still an active member of the Magic Castle in Hollywood, California, and proud to be that that’s an organization you have to actually audition to become a member of. And I’ve been with them for over 25 years. But anyway, the way I started in the safety business was I was doing magic at a restaurant in Stockton, California, and two restaurants I would do one night a week and go table to table. And some people from Pacific Gas and Electric were sitting at the table. And then they said, hey, we could use you as a magician at our safety kickoff. Back then, they used to do these huge safety kickoffs. They were safety Giants back then. And they would do these huge safety kick offs. The year before, they had a Dixon jazz band. They said, if you can use magic, safety is the magic word. We can tie that in. I said, that’s great. But at the time I was doing corporate magic. I was doing trade shows for companies. I would work their display and tie their product into the tricks to illustrate a feature of their product, the product name, whatever they wanted to get across. 

And so, I thought, well, I can do the same thing with safety. So, I said, send me one of your safety manuals and send me how you hurt people. Last year statistics, they did. And I wrote three magic routines tied to three different tricks that taught their concepts. And so, they had me at the Modesto fleet operations kickoff. And that was my first introduction to safety. I remember arriving, they had a truck that had been destroyed. Apparently one of their drivers was following a semi that had a forklift on the back of the semi, and the forklift was in an extended position. And when they went under a bridge. It flipped off and landed right on the roof of the guy’s cab. Luckily, didn’t kill him. He was there all bandaged up, and they had the truck as a message to everybody, hey, don’t follow too close. But anyway, so I did that meeting at the time. Another strong thing they used to do was they would attend each other safety kickoffs. And I highly recommend that the companies to find out the businesses, even if you’re in different fields, if you’re in a manufacturing company and there’s other ones in your neighborhood, go visit their safety meetings, see how they do stuff and get other inputs. 

So, you have other ideas and concepts you may not have thought of. Well, these guys had the smarts their safety people from all the different divisions would visit each other’s safety meetings. Well, immediately after the meeting, they’re going, hey, can you come to our meeting? And my answer was, of course, you pay me, I’ll go anywhere. That’s fine. So, they started having me go up and down the whole system, and I kept creating more and more safety message in the presentation. I did a lot of safety awards banquets for them. They used to do award banquets every year for their safety people and so forth in the different divisions in the company. And so, in those when it was families like spouses and the worker. And so, for that, it was probably 70% entertainment, 30% safety. But then when I was speaking at locations, it was pretty much 30% magic and 70% content with safety. So, over a period of time, the Los Angeles chapter of the National Safety Council heard how effective I was. And Joe Kaplan, who was then the President executive of the organization, asked me to develop a full day course for him on safety communication, which became my first book, Mastering Safety Communication. 

So that book came out, and we pretty much took that course national. And then the business took off from that point. Once I had the book and we started going to national safety shows, and all of a sudden people see me and saying, hey, we have to have you at our location. And it started a whole new career. And then since then, of course, I’ve become a professional member of the American Society of Safety Professionals, learned a whole lot more about the safety side of the business. But I think my real calling has always been how to get people. There are so many companies that are so focused on getting employees to understand all the safety procedures, rules, policies, and they’re great at that. There are very few times where somebody gets injured and they can honestly say, oh, I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to do that. That virtually never happens. The training in these companies is fabulous. The part they leave out is and I hate using the word motivational because it’s so cliched, but they don’t give people the reason why they should do something a certain way. All right. You need to explain to a young person why using hearing protection is important. 

And when I’m giving a talk, I will say something like, hey, and I’ll talk about my grandkids. I’ll say, you guys, your 20-year-olds out there need to use your hearing protection. First off, you love listening to your music. You want to be able to listen to whatever music you want to when you’re 60, 70, 80, 90 years old. But someday you’re going to have kids, you’re going to have grandkids, and you’re going to miss out on hearing the sweet sound of that grandchild. If you can’t hear well. And I’d tell a story about a guy who used to be at a Rotary meeting I’d go to, and his hearing was horrible. You’d sit across the table from him less than 3ft away, and you had to yell. It was, hey, Wayne, how are you? And he’d go, what? And I’m not even screaming as loud as sometimes I would. And I guarantee you, Wayne, with all his grandkids, has never heard the sweet sound of their voice because this hearing is so bad. You need to give people the reason why. And a lot of leaders leave that part out. They tell people that safety is important, safety is a value for the company, but you need to give people a personal reason why for them if they would want to work safely. 

And the same thing for leaders when we talk about leadership, why is it important that you, as a first line supervisor, hold safety as a value? And that’s tough because you get somebody that’s been promoted. They’ve been doing a task now. They’ve been promoted because they’re great at their task. They’re now a supervisor. They’re leading other people. But they also know that one of the biggest factors is production. And they’re so focused on that. And they haven’t been with the program long enough to understand how important safety is, how you never want to be in the position where you found out somebody got hurt under your leadership, that you find out that when you have an injury, it does grow up production and cost. That safety actually has a huge impact on the effectiveness of any organization and its profitability. And because they don’t have that experience and that knowledge, it’s one of the things a lot of times upper-level leadership forgets to instill in those people. You’re not giving those young leaders, the men and women that are now leading. You’re not giving them a reason why safety needs to be of value and a very important principle to them in what they do and what they’re evaluating that their team’s doing in a given day. 

And because you leave out, that why they don’t do it. It’s the same thing where you teach somebody, hey, you need to lift properly. I remember I worked at Scout camp, and we’d throw mattresses onto a truck. We had a whole bunch we had to get rid of and we’re throwing them in a truck. And somebody says, hey, you need to lift Propulo. And I’m like, I’m a football player, I don’t need to do this. 

That nothing. 

I’m strong enough, right? But you have to make sure that people understand in an effective way that, hey, this is for down the road. It’s not going to affect you now, but later on, unless you give them that personal, why for them, whether it’s leadership, why safety should be important, or the worker, why they should put the guard on this device, why they should have their hearing protection on without that, they’re not going to do it. They just think, hey, what’s the point? And a good example of all the stuff we’re dealing with COVID now and everything else, people are so confused because the messaging has been so bad is, okay, do I need to wear a mask? Is it important? So, you need to think in terms of why is this important? And of course, that brings up a whole other topic you could go into and spend days on. But honesty is very important. Leaders need to be honest with people. That the reasons why you do things. I think that’s another problem with what’s occurring. There’s been so much misinformation about stuff. In the beginning of the whole COVID thing, they told everybody, oh, you don’t need to wear a mask. 

And the reason why they told them that was they didn’t want to run on masks because they needed them for the hospital workers. But that was an outright bit of its misinformation, and it had a reason behind it. But all of a sudden, the people that gave that information out had no credibility because they’ve already proven, I’m willing to tell you an untrue statement in order to get a behavior out of you. And leaders do that in safety. Leaders and corporations do that. You need to be honest with people, hey, we need you to do this because it’s more profitable. We need to do this because we don’t want to see you get hurt unless you’re honest with people. And people figure that out really quickly. There’s an inherent ability to figure out when somebody’s not being honest with you. So, I think those things are critical. And I think it’s so true. I’ve been seeing that when a leader expresses their personal why safety matters to them with stories an example, it becomes even more powerful because it feels more genuine. You’re more authentic, right? 

By the way, one thing I didn’t tell you before the call if you would like and you can edit this out or not or leave it in. But if you would like, I would be glad to provide anybody listening to the podcast a free eBook version of my book. Would you watch out for my safety? 

That’s fantastic. 

And all they would have to do is if they email me, John@drevenger.com. That’s John at Drebinger. D-R-E-B as in boy-inger.com. Mention the podcast and I will send them a link where they can download a free copy of that book. I’ve sold over about 45,000 copies of that in print. My first book, Mastering Safety Communication, word about let’s see 90,000 copies on it. So, both have been pretty good best sellers. But since they’re listening to your podcast, if they’d like, they can just email me and as a courtesy to you, send them a free copy of that and they can read that on you can read that on a Kindle. You can get a PDF version of it. You get a mobile version for Kindle and an EPUB for any other device. So, they’re welcome to that. 

Excellent. So that’s a great offer. Thank you very much, John, for offering that to the listeners. Maybe if we can touch on because you touched on a lot of the executive safety messaging piece, can you share maybe some techniques on how you’ve already shared quite a few. But any other thoughts in terms of how executives should message around safety? We talked about why matters being more personal around its authenticity. Any other thoughts that you think executives should really think about and look at themselves in the mirror and say, am I doing this to improve my safety performance? 

Well, one of my favorite formats is companies that will bring me in, and I’ll spend part of a day or a couple of hours doing a leadership session on safety. And a very good example of this, I was at one company, and we did the session with them the day before. I was doing all the employee talks at their different sites. And so, what was great about that is the leadership found out how important their role in what they do and what they say is the very next day because they had attended the session that I did on the importance of leadership, there were leaders actually going out throughout their facility, making sure that everybody was at the meeting where I was speaking. They said, hey, you got to make sure you’re here. They made sure people shut down what they were doing and came over and listened to it, where there’s a lot of times they’ll go to places. And there was one location that was really unfortunate for the supervisor involved. But the CEO of this one oil company was following me around. I was actually going around the different control rooms and stuff at the refinery and doing short little presentations. 

And when we got to one and the safety person had done a great job scheduling every little supervisor knew when we were going to get to their spot to have everybody ready to go and everything, well, we got this one spot, and the supervisor had purposely sent everybody out to do tasks at that moment. So there was virtually nobody in the room to hear the presentation. Oh, my, the safety guy was really disgusting. And he shared that with me. So, before we left that little section, I asked the CEO. I said, hey, give me a minute. Come on out. Let me talk to you. We went outside and I explained to him how good a job the safety guy done on scheduling everything. And that what had happened here was the person had sent people out on tasks right before we got there. And the CEO happened to be there because their company had two guys who were in the community and saved somebody’s life, did CPR and save the guy’s life in town, and he was there to help give them an award from the community and recognize them. So that CEO had flown out specifically for that had coincidentally going around with me, and I shared that. 

He said he was very pleased. He said, I’m glad to hear that. And I’m sure later on had a discussion with a supervisor that probably wasn’t the most comfortable moment in their experience. And by the way, that’s a significant factor when upper-level leadership pays attention to those kinds of things. I was speaking at the Johnson Space Center back in 2001 when George Abbey was the director, and I spoke for an entire year. I was there three days a month for the entire year to hit all the NASA employees. And it was a full day program called Safety Through Everyone’s Participation. And George is absolutely committed to safety. And he’s known as Mr. Abbey. And one week I showed up, and there was supposed to be 150 people at each session of the three days. And one day there were like 75 people. And I asked the safety person, I said, what happened? She said, I don’t know. Their managers apparently didn’t get them there. Well, Mr. Abby came in the room, saw how empty the room was, and everybody was signed up. By the way, it wasn’t a matter of like who showed up. 

They knew who was supposed to be there. Apparently, the next Monday senior managers meeting held in Mr. Abby’s office was a hell fire and brimstone session because the rest of the year there wasn’t a single session with 150 people in it. So, he was able to convey to his team that this was not something that people had an excuse to miss. And that was pretty significant. In fact, one of them to give you an idea at NASA, when they do a flight ready, when they’re getting ready for a launch, everybody that’s got their regular tasks during the launch may have additional duties. And one day when I was speaking, there was a launch coming up two or three days later. And I said, how many people here have launched responsibilities? And at least two thirds of the people raise their hand. And that really pointed out that even in the midst of a launch being at that safety day was that important and that Mr. Abbey wanted to make sure they were there. They understood that. And it was clear from the leadership, from the top down, this is not something you put aside, because he understood that’s the foundation of making sure everything happens. And he was focused on employee safety. We’re not talking about flight safety here. 

Sure. 

Which he was very much a proponent of also. But anyway, the key thing there was that the leadership making sure that other leaders understood this is important. This isn’t something you set aside. I spoke at Boeing years ago, and their safety person was smart enough. He contacted the President of the company and said, hey, you have a monthly manager’s meeting. Can I have 2 hours of that meeting? And the President said, sure, no problem. And so, he had me come in for those 2 hours and do a talk on leadership and safety. But he knew if he held a safety meeting about leadership, that a percentage of people would come to it and a percentage of people would have other excuses than things to miss. He knew nobody had an excuse for missing the president’s meeting. It was like, everybody is going to be there. And the President understood that he needed to lend that authority to safety. But I absolutely love it when I see leaders that I’ve taught their expectations. Everybody understands expectations when it comes to production and the things you’re getting done, holding people accountable, and it’s like, hey, you guys are meeting your production goals. 

You’re meeting this. But they need to do the same thing when it comes to safety. And it’s not safety performance, it’s not. How many injures did you have? Is everybody attending the safety briefing? Is everybody doing this? Tom Walters, President with the ExxonMobil, was sitting in a room. I was doing a presentation for them at Exxon Mobile. And afterwards, no less than five employees came up to me and said, hey, did you know the President of the company was here? And I said, yeah. I said, I’ve interviewed him, and he’s very committed to safety. And I had actually talked to him. I went over and said Hi to him when he got there. And he said, yeah, it’s a meeting for safety, for the employees in the building. And I work in the building. To him, he was going to be there for that reason. But what was powerful was the employees noticed him being there, and they were impressed that it’s like, wow, because he could have easily not bother to be there. P.G and E back in the days when they were safety Giants, I was speaking at the Abbot Canyon Nuclear Power Station, and one of their senior vice presidents, former Admiral of the Navy Ben Montoya, was there, and they had a policy whenever they had local safety kickoffs, somebody from the headquarters building in the executive offices had to be at each of the safety kickoffs and be there for the whole day. 

And Ben was so focused on safety. I’m part of this full day thing they have. And I stayed and listened to the other speakers. At one point, Ben stood up in the middle of the meeting and said, Excuse me, ladies, and gentlemen, but I have to leave for a moment because my number has come up with a nuclear regulatory Commission on having to take a drug test. And so, he had to go out and do the urine test. But he was so committed to safety, he didn’t want to have anybody think he was going out of the room to take a phone call to check on something. In other words, something else was more important than safety meeting. He let everybody know that this was something they all had to do. If their number came up, you don’t get to go. I’ll do it later. When he came back in, everybody noticed when he came back in the room, but they knew he didn’t leave because of something like somebody made a call that he needed to follow up on or they understood safety was very important to him and he was going to be there with them for the whole day. 

And that’s the kind of leadership that really conveys the message of how important something is. And so, I’ll coach leaders on the how to. I’ll also spend time sharing with them things they may be doing that’s undermining their message. I’ve had leaders that I know are committed to safety, that they’ll tell me stories and part of their history and everything, and I understand they are absolutely committed to safety. And yet when I interview the employees, they don’t think the leadership is committed. And so, I’ve discovered over the years there are things that undermine a safety message or even subtle communication skills where you’re not getting the safety message across. I always tell leaders; you need to tell people safety is important. Safety is a value in the midst of a crisis, when all hell is breaking loose, when the production is behind schedule, when everything’s going wrong, and you say, hey, Bob, we got to get this done by 04:00. This has to be done. I don’t care what you have to do. It’s got to be done at 04:00. That’s the moment when you have to say, and they need you to do it safely. 

In fact, I even use the illustration I teach, I teach leaders to say, look, when you do this, Bob, Shirley or whatever, when you’re doing this task, I don’t want you to do anything you wouldn’t want your own kid to do. And that’s what we call in communication and archetype. You don’t have to have kids to understand that’s a very high level of performance that I wouldn’t want you to do anything you wouldn’t want your own kid to do. But they need to share. That not just at the safety meeting, where the safety leaders will stand up and say safety is number one, which, by the way, it isn’t. That’s another thing I teach leaders, stop telling people safety is number one. It’s not you’re in business. If you’re in business, your job is to make a profit. And without that. But safety is how you do it. You make your product with quality, you have integrity, and all those are all the values of how you do something. They’re not what you’re doing. And so, you’re in business. Same thing with government agencies. When I speak at NASA, it’s, hey, you don’t waste any money. 

You want to spend all the money you can on your next mission, on the next space discovery that you’re going to make on your next trip, getting to Mars, getting to the moon, whatever it is you want to save every dollar you can, you don’t want to waste that on somebody getting injured. I mean, aside from somebody getting hurt, you’re wasting resources that could accomplish something. And I spoke in Oklahoma one year to the people that handle all the welfare and dealing with people that need homes and everything. I said, you guys don’t want to waste money on injuries, car accidents and other things like that that could be going to social services to help the people and your clients that you’re helping. Every dollar you spend on an injury isn’t going to that person that really needs your help, the counseling or whatever it is you’re providing them. And true leaders understand that they get the companies that are safe, are more profitable, they’re more productive. And the same thing with organizations that are working on a budget, nobody has more money than they know what to do with. That’s just not the case. 

Never seen that problem. But you’ve shared a lot of great ideas in terms of how to peers through different levels of management, because a lot of the challenges when I speak to executives is I’m committed to safety. But how do I make sure that message goes across the organization? And a lot of it, I think, is the signals you just shared, the CEO President showing up, demonstrating this is important, demonstrating why they’re there. Small signals tend to have a big impact in terms of piercing through. 

Yeah. And people say, walk your talk and everything else like that. And they think in terms of like, okay, are you wearing a hard hat or safety glasses when you’re in a facility? That’s not the key thing leaders need to do. For instance, a good example was the Boeing meeting where the President had the safety guy take part of his meeting. I used the illustration marketing. If you look at your market and companies all go to places and people attending a safety meeting is optional, whereas attending a marketing meeting isn’t. And I go, you’re telling everybody what’s important. 

Absolutely. 

Or maybe not optional. But if somebody on the teams feels like, oh, I had to go do such and such, that’s why I’m not at the meeting. I couldn’t make a safety briefing because I needed to do X, Y, or Z. If that same excuse would work for the marketing meeting, their salesperson meeting, their production, whatever other meetings there are, I’m fine with that. But if that wouldn’t work in those situations, you’ve got a problem because people aren’t agreed. You’re not applying the same importance to safety. That’s the other key thing people get that the first level supervisors, the people that would say, oh, there was something more important. The person that sent all the workers out when we were supposed to be at their little control room, they believe those tasks they were going to do was more important than the safety message they were going to hear. And you just need to let people know these are all equally important. 

In that case. Exactly. 

Making a quality product is critical. In that case, I always tell people quality is easy for a manufacturing company. If you let quality go down the Hill, the marketplace will get rid of you. You’ll be gone in a heartbeat, of course. But with safety, that’s not the case with safety. You see disastrous things happening. I’ve seen over the years leadership change in companies. We’ve had clients where their safety focus was incredible. We see a change in leadership, and they’re the type of company that would bring in somebody like me to teach their leader stuff. They’d bring in speakers like me to talk to employees and do motivational talks. I do one talk called Ensure Your Safety, and that’s focused on overcoming, getting people to not take shortcuts, taking personal responsibility, how to refocus when you get distracted, because that happens day in and day out. Other talk I do what you watch out for. My safety is about how to share safety. When you see somebody doing something unsafe, how do you do that? Well, people that bring in speakers like me and other speakers, all of a sudden somebody comes in and says, oh, we don’t need all that stuff. 

I literally over the years, I’ll tell my marketing person, I go keep track. I said, they’re going to have a major injury or a major incident down the road. And sure enough, they do you read about some fire or whatever? People in my Church, there was a fire over in the Bay Area at a refinery probably 15 plus years ago, and three people were killed. And somebody in my Church said, all they need to have you speak over there. I said, those guys will never have me speak there. They’re not committed to safety. They never have been. I’d already heard stories about them. I said, they’ve killed people before and they’re going to kill people again. And I actually bumped into a consulting company in Teams. I was having lunch with somebody, and they had mentioned that that company had actually hired them to come and analyze this one incident. And they contacted about six months later saying, hey, what do you want us to do to implement all this? And they said, no, we just needed the report, and they weren’t following up. So, you can spot places. Of course, in one of my presentations, I go when my kids were growing up getting a job, I wouldn’t let them work someplace where safety wasn’t a focus. And I make the joke. I said, yeah, if they got a job with a company that wasn’t safe, I’d call up the supervisor and say, yeah, my kid is stealing from you, get them fired. But anyway, the point being is I could spot the characteristics and the things that made it obvious that safety wasn’t a value to those people. And I’m not going to have my family members working at a place like that because eventually somebody’s going to get hurt and it could be them. 

Absolutely. You mentioned you talk, and you teach around executive messaging for safety. You teach around personal responsibility. I’d like to pivot a little bit on your third topic that you teach is really around how to share feedback and how to receive it, which I think is so critical. 

Sure. 

Because at the end of the day, that’s one of the best ways to drive improvements in performances is having good conversations around safety, around feedback, when maybe you’re doing something unsafe. Any thoughts you can share with our listeners around some of the techniques when you see unsafe work? 

This episode of the Safety Guru podcast is brought to you by Propulo Consulting, the leading safety and safety culture advisory firm. Whether you are looking to assess your safety culture, develop strategies to level up your safety performance, introduce human performance capabilities, reenergize your BBS program, enhance supervisory safety capabilities, or introduce unique safety leadership training and talent solutions. Propulo, has you covered. Visit us www.propulo.com. 

Yeah. Years ago, I was reading a fellow safety professional book, one of the things they pointed out that people had done a lot of studies on how to when you see somebody doing something unsafe, how to go and correct them or do an intervention so that they would feel comfortable, so that afterwards they’d feel empowered and all that good stuff. They said, the problem is nobody had studied how to make the person doing the intervention feel comfortable. And because of that, people don’t intervene. And that’s the other scary part in the field of safety. You talk to most safety professionals; they’ll tell you that a huge percentage. I don’t know what the true number is, but I know it’s way beyond the majority of incidents. Somebody gets hurt and people will say, yeah, oh, I’ve seen them doing that before. I’ve seen them do that. I’ve seen them do that dozens of times. Or we’ve always done it that way or basically, that behavior that way of doing the job or that hazard had been noticed? Oh, yeah, I noticed that bad step for a long time. It’s like, well, then why didn’t anybody say anything? 

There are so few incidences where somebody gets hurt and nobody saw that coming. And that’s tragic because you can argue, you can get into debate and safety. Are all injuries preventable? Well, certainly if somebody has seen the hazard or the behavior before, that’s 100% preventable. But the problem is people don’t know. And there’s a full 45 minutes to an hour presentation. I do would you watch out for my safety? And the book that I offered them if they want has the content of that end. But it’s the talk I do, and I generally take about an hour with it with employees. And I go into five reasons why people would want to watch out for each other’s safety, because I focus on the standpoint. You want to get people to want to do something. You want to get executives to want to focus on safety, to want to make sure safety is of value. And sometimes people call it a priority. But I like the term value. You want to give people to want to use the safety glasses or the hearing protection, even when nobody’s watching that they naturally don’t like. I’m putting these on because I want to put them on, not because I have to, not because it’s a rule or anything else. 

I want them to want to do it. In fact, my goal whenever I talk to employees and leaders is I want your people doing this stuff when they get home, when they get home and they’re doing something in their garage, they want to put in their safety glasses on because there’s no rule that says they have to. But I want to put them on. I post a picture on Facebook a few weeks ago. I was doing some mowing before we got our first rains here in California for the fall. And I had my hearing protection on my headsets on. And somebody, a safety professional, as a friend on Facebook posted, nice touch with a hearing protection. But I wear that because I want to protect my hearing. I want to be able to hear my grandkids. I want to be able to enjoy music. So, I approach that the same way I go into Why would you want to watch out for other people? And I talk about five basic reasons, two of which actually benefit the person. First, when I start with this, I said, you want to watch out for other people because when you start watching out for the safety of other people, your own personal safety awareness goes up. 

You become aware of hazards to you that you wouldn’t be aware of because you’re now looking out for other people. You’re going to see stuff other people won’t see. I say that about safety professionals. We tend to see things other people don’t see too many safety professionals ignore them. It always drives me crazy when I see at a safety convention, people Loading the exhibit hall or something and lifting him Propulo. And I’m like, or when the traffic signal changes and they’re crossing on the red or after the little flashing red hand comes up and it’s like, hello, we’re in the safety business. We do it because it’s the right thing to do and it’s a better example. But anyway, so I talk about why you’d want to watch out for other people. Then I get into when you see something, the reasons why people don’t. And there are three reasons I talk about in the presentation that people don’t intervene, one of which is they don’t think anything’s going to happen. I think that’s the primary reason people don’t point a hazard out to somebody. It’s like nothing’s going to happen in our life’s experiences. 

It won’t. I mean, think of all the safety violations, all the shortcuts that are happening today in the workplace and all the people that are texting while driving, all the things that are happening that people shouldn’t be doing and nothing bad happens. I mean, how many times you’ve seen people driving down the road with their phone very engaged, not paying a whole lot of attention? Somebody cuts you off on the road and you look, and you go, they had no clue I was there. You avoided hitting them. And you literally know for a fact they had no clue you were there for that person. They’ve been doing that behavior all day long. And how many people have they not hit? So, our human experiences and nothing will happen. In the talk I mentioned, I could be having lunch with you, and I’d be looking. Maybe I see somebody in the white staff step and climb up on a chair to change the light bulb. And I think, well, man, you shouldn’t do that. It’s not safe. You should use a step ladder. But in my life’s experience, I have yet to see somebody use a chair as a stepladder and fall off it. 

All right. So, I know you shouldn’t. I know it’s not a good idea, but personally, I’ve never seen a result in an injury. So, I could look at that and think, how would I feel? So, I actually go back in the presentation, I point out the fourth reason why you watch out for other people, why you’d want to watch out for other people is having no regrets. And I point out to people, I go think to yourself, if the kid fell off that chair and fell just wrong and got hurt, how would I feel knowing I could have prevented it? If I feel bad, then I go say something. I’m doing it to protect them, but I’m also doing it to protect me. I’m not going to feel bad. Oh, shoot. Something bad happened. Once again, the main reason, I think is people think nothing will happen. So, I say the way you handle that is you ask, if it did, how would you feel that you didn’t say something and protect that person. The second reason people don’t watch out for other people’s safety is or intervene is it’s uncomfortable. It’s not comfortable going over to somebody and saying, hey, that’s not the best way to do this. 

Or there’s a hazard there. And it’s because people self-talk. They say negative stuff to themselves. They think, well, that person must know that, or they’ve been here longer than I have. And it’s like in the talk, I do a whole the second reason people need to watch out for other people is people get distracted and they have this cognitive failure. Your mind misses something. You could be the most experienced working in a facility looking at a hazard and not actually see it. As a magician, I can make that happen on purpose. In my presentations, I’ll do two or three tricks that tie in the message. If I’m doing a full day presentation, I’ll do tricks every so often. Even if they don’t have something tied in the message, they’re just for breaking things up. Keeping the meeting interesting. 

Sure. 

But that second reason it’s uncomfortable. So now you got it. The key is and the third thing I point out is they don’t know how to safety meetings. I can’t tell you how many places I’ve been, and the leadership will say, be your brother’s keeper, watch out for each other. Everybody gets that. I understand. But how do I do it? Well, that’s what I teach people. And I guarantee you there are very few people that teach straightforward what I do a simple technique on how to point safety out to people in a way that the person pointing it out feels comfortable. By the way, it’s also comfortable for the person they’re sharing it with. But I see the person over there, I’m at a grocery store, I’m at a hardware store or something, and I see somebody near a hazard. I feel comfortable, perfectly comfortable going over and saying something to somebody because of the technique that I’ve come up with that allows me to do it. And one of the techniques is similar to the title of the book. It’s, hey, would you like me to watch out for your safety? And I do magic in the presentation. 

But that’s a trick question. When I say to somebody, hey, would you like me to watch out for your safety? 

Nobody’s going to say, no. 

They’re curious. It’s like what’s he up to, what’s he thinking of. Sometimes they’ll go like, oh, yeah, I shouldn’t be doing this because they are doing something they know they shouldn’t be doing, but they generally will say yes. And of course, now I feel comfortable because they’ve said, hey, they want the input. As a professional Speaker, I’ll hear somebody else speak. I’ll be at Church. I was visiting a Church downtown Sacramento. My son just moved there, and it’s about 20 miles farther from where I go to Church. And so, I wanted to go there and meet the pastors. I went to Lutheran Seminary for a couple of years. I couldn’t pass Greek to save my life. So, I continue on the lay Ministry. But I was talking to one of the pastors. I don’t give unsolicited advice, but I said to him, I said, hey, I’m a professional in the speaking field and I do coach. I said, “would you like it too?” And I said, “sure, the same thing.” It’s similar to saying, hey, would you like me to watch out for your safety? It’s like, hey, there’s something that might help you that would be useful. 

And I said, Great. And then he asked some more questions, and I gave him some more input. But people are curious. They want that. But you ask them nicely. There’s another technique I teach, very simple, just the simple phrase. As you know, you see an experienced worker over there. I’m new on the job. I’ve been here for two weeks, and this person is over there. I just got done with all the training, and you’re not supposed to be doing that or whatever. And the simple phrase, hey, as you know, there’s a power supply under there. As you know, there’s a hazard right behind you. If that person is having it is distracted. That moment, they’re thinking about their kid’s softball game that afternoon. They’re distracted because their car has a breakdown that they weren’t counting on. And they’re thinking about that. They don’t see that hazard. I’ve just protected them. But I’ve said, as you know, which presumes they know what they’re doing, and that way they feel comfortable. I feel comfortable. And so, I cover that in the presentation. Then I also go into how to respond. And the key there is, of course, to make the person appreciate that you appreciate their input. 

And I go into some great stories on that. Actually, my closing magic trick is I’ll borrow a dollar bill from some of the audience, and then we record the dollar bill serial number. It then gets torn up and ends up inside of a lemon back in one piece. And that’s my closing effect. But while I’m doing it to cut the lemon open, I’m wearing safety gloves. And I tell a story about a guy who, after a presentation, I had left my gloves at home that particular trip, I threw them in the wash. I left the gloves behind, and he came up to me after a presentation. So, I noticed you were cutting that lemon. He didn’t have any gloves on, but he walked up first, and he said, hey, would you like me to watch out for your safety? And I said, yeah, you bet. That’s the other cool thing about the technique I teach that’s cool people use it instantly and some companies have a good time with it. I call and the safety guy say, yeah, we’ve got everybody walking around going, hey, John told me to ask you if you want me to watch out for your safety. 

They’ll refer back to that. But either way it happened. So, he said, yeah. I said, sure. And he said, let me get you some gloves you can use the rest of the week while you’re here. And he got me these cool gloves. And I tell the whole story about the gloves and somebody else a few weeks later pointing out something to me and how I respond and what I do to let people know I appreciate that. And also, the communication barriers that you can set up. 

Sure. 

I was wearing gloves. The first guy gave me in another presentation, another guy came up and said, hey, would you like me to watch out for your safety? Because they were leather gloves with a Kevlar lining. And he didn’t know they had a Kevlar lining. But he walked up and said, hey, he offered me a pair of Kevlar gloves that would protect me better than the leather ones. I said, that’s great. I never told them the other ones had a Kevlar lining because I didn’t want to steal his moment here. He’s using what I taught them. He’s watching out for me. And later on, and I point out the presentation, it’s about making sure that the next person is watched out for it. If I just said to him, hey, don’t worry, these have a Kevin lining. Then later that day he might have seen one of the more experienced people in a place doing a job and thinking, oh, yeah, Bob knows what he’s doing. He must know about that hazard and then not say anything. And the person gets hurt. And of course, I use the magic to illustrate the points to keep it interesting. 

I also really believe an important element, and this is part of how I got into taking this nationally with teaching people communication skills and safety was so many safety meetings. Everybody say how boring they were. I was at one safety meeting as one of these big safety kickoffs, 350 people there. There was a guy on after me that was talking about something. And it was incredible, great information about how to stay healthy or whatever else. It was so boring. I mean, I was trying to stay awake, and I was interested in what they were talking about, taking notes and everything else. I finally had to go to the restroom. I got to go to the restroom and realized that the 350 people, easily 250 of them were outside taking a break. They had walked out of the meeting, and I said, no, you guys should be in there. This is really good stuff. And they go, buddy, so boring, we can’t take it. And I couldn’t argue with that. And so that’s part of the mission I took on was teaching safety people how to make safety interesting, how to get the that’s another thing I do. 

My happiest situation is where a company will have me come in and teach communication skills to the safety teams of the leadership, teach values to the leadership, and then have me do the employee talks later in the week, because then I get the whole spectrum where they get the whole package together. And that has a huge impact on how they do things. But yeah, it’s interesting still, I go to safety conferences and sit on other speakers. And it’s funny, some speakers actually have a negative impact on when they’re like some of the safety motivational speakers, there’s actually a negative impact on the audience. And it’s one of the challenges one of the challenges I have with what I call experiential speakers, somebody that got hurt, and then they’re telling how they got hurt. And, hey, don’t be like me. And it’s like there’s not a success, I’m sure, in your business or anything else, when you want to study how to be successful, you study people that are successful, not the failures. You study the people that are doing all these amazing things and how they got to where they did, what did they do. 

And in safety, too often we spend time as safety professionals analyzing what went wrong and what the root causes are and everything else. But that’s not the important part you share with employees. The part you share with employees is the reason why you’d want to do it years ago, I’m sure. I know you’re familiar with, but they had on TV a lot of the scared straight programs where they would take young kids and send them through a jail to talk to the prisoners and everything else. It turned out the people that went through that program had a higher incidence of crime than the kids that didn’t. 

Oh, my goodness. 

Yeah. Because scaring people doesn’t work. You tell people all this bad stuff will happen. And unfortunately, it doesn’t motivate people. And part of the reason is the element that any safety professional will tell you is most people believe it won’t happen to me. 

Almost everybody you talk to who’s gotten injured will say the same thing and convinced it wasn’t going to happen to me. 

Yes. Famous last words or the other one people say is, oh, I’ll be careful. And they do that when you hear an experiential speaker and they’ll go, wow, that’s amazing. They may even cry listening to the story that the person tells. And I’ve heard I’ve had speakers that I’ve worked with tell me, oh, yeah, they have the audience in tears, and that’s fine. But the problem is all the audience members are thinking, yes, but I wouldn’t have done that or that fatal flaw they made. Well, I would have been more careful. I would have seen that thing coming and avoided it. When I text, when I’m driving, I’m more aware of what’s going around because they’re different. That’s the fallacy. And the whole thing of you tells people like, okay, this is the person how they get hurt. You don’t want to do that. And it’s like, yeah, but that’s not going to happen to me because I’m better, I’m more skilled or I’m aware of that hazard. So, it wouldn’t happen. 

Which is the biggest risk. 

None of which is accurate, but that’s what people believe. Therefore, those motivational talks don’t have the effect. You need to teach people the positive techniques that actually get a result in people doing something safely, wanting to wear the personal protective equipment, wanting to do what they need to do. I far prefer. There was a guy who spoke at Con Edison. I was speaking there, and he got up and told the story and says, you know, the safety guy has been bugging me for years to make sure my shirt is tucked in. And some of the things he was talking about. And he says, I finally started doing it. And he says, three weeks after I started doing it, all of a sudden, one of the utility things they were working on, there was a fire that came flashing up out of it. He said, had I not had my shirt tucked in, I would have been severely burnt. Now there’s a story of somebody that was doing something the right way and it protected them. I’d far rather hear that than the person that got injured and why you shouldn’t do that. And I’m also a certified hypnotherapist. I studied that for communication. But when you have somebody talking about how they got hurt and how you shouldn’t do that, subliminally, they believed nothing would happen to them. A lot of the unconscious messages, they’re just terrible. So, it’s unfortunate, but it doesn’t have the impact you really want to get. 

But I think you bring an interesting point, even this element around that the gentleman with the shirt is another utility I worked with where they started using campaigns about people that made the right choice. So, for example, there was a storm rolling in. They decided to reassess the hazard, step away, and Lo and behold, lighting struck that particular place where they would have been. And they realized if I hadn’t done this, I could have had a worse result. And those types of messages are sharing what you should do and the positive impact, which I think is really good. 

As a hypnotherapist, I can tell you the unconscious message there is much more powerful because you’re reinforcing somebody did what they should do, and this is the payoff they got. And by the way, when people hear that, they don’t go, well, that wouldn’t happen to me. It’s like, oh, that’s pretty cool. It protected them. 

So, John, I really appreciate you coming on the show, sharing your thoughts. You have some great insights around the executive safety messaging, how you Pierce through different levels of leadership to connect with frontline team members as well as some great techniques around how to address something unsafe. Really appreciate you sharing your offer around the free eBook you’re going to send. So, if somebody wants to reach you, what’s the best way to do that? 

John, they can always reach me at John@dreaminger.com. John@dryinger.com our office phone number is area code 2097-4594-1929-7459 four one nine. Our website is drencher.com so it’s www. Dot D as in David. R as in Robert. E as in Edward. B as in Boy. I as in India. N as in Nancy. G as in George. E as in Edward. R as in Robert.com. So, dressinger.com and if they send me an email mentioning the podcast here the book offer. Would you watch out for my safety? Then I will send them a link. If they don’t hear back, be sure to call our office if all of a sudden, their email got caught in my spam filler or something because they should get the responding email within about 48 hours. So, we’d follow up on that and it’s been great talking to you on any more time you want to get together. I’d be glad to. This was a great experience and appreciate what you’re doing with it. 

Absolutely. Thank you so much, John. 

Thank you for listening to the safety Guru on C-suite radio. Leave a Legacy distinguish yourself from the pack, grow your success, capture the hearts and minds of your team’s. Fuel your future. Come back in two weeks for the next episode or listen to our sister show with the Ops Guru Eric Michrowski. 

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John Drebinger Jr., acclaimed international safety speaker, author and trusted advisor, has been delivering his dynamic safety presentations worldwide for the past 32 years and is known for injecting humor and passion to engage audiences to help people work safely.
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Leadership Lessons from a CEO that Gets Safety with Brian Fielkow

Leadership lessons from a CEO that gets safety

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Being a CEO calls for making tough decisions and trade-offs every day. Great CEOs also focus on building safety excellence and understand how to balance safety, quality and productivity without allowing trade-offs. In this episode, we have a conversation with Brian Fielkow a CEO who was recently awarded the Distinguished Service to Safety Award from the National Safety Council. A “CEOs Who Get It!”

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Real leaders leave a legacy. They capture the hearts and minds of their teams. Their origin story puts the safety and wellbeing of their people first. Great companies, ubiquitously, have safe yet productive operations. For those companies, safety is an investment, not a cost. For the C-suite. It’s a real topic of daily focus. This is The Safety Guru with your host, Eric Michrowski, a globally recognized Ops, safety guru, public speaker and author. Are you ready to leave a safety legacy? Your legacy success story begins now.  

Hi, and welcome to The Safety Guru. Today, I’m very excited to have with me Brian Fielkow. He’s President CEO of JETCO Deliveries and also EVP of the GTI Group. So JETCO is part of the GTI Group. So really excited to have you with me, Brian. What’s really cool about what you’ve done is you’ve had a lot of work leading companies but bringing safety first in all of those organizations. And in fact, just recently, just a couple of weeks ago, you were awarded a very prestigious price by the National Safety Council, which is awarded every year of CEOs who get it, basically a handful of CEOs every year that find ways to incorporate safety and everything they do because this is really exciting, Brian. So, tell me a little bit about that prize and then let’s get into how you got into safety and then this passion as an executive. 

Thank you so much for having me on this podcast, Eric. I really appreciate it. Well, the National Safety Council recognition is really exciting. Again, they pick, as you said, CEOs, I think, six or eight a year who really have a proven track record of being safe and productive. Safety and productivity. It’s not either, or choice. Both. 

Exactly. 

I think that the more I’ve gone on, the more I recognize and would encourage other people to recognize that safety is at the foundation of an excellent operation. Safety is at the foundation of a profitable business. Too many people have this idea, Eric, that safety and productivity are in conflict with one another.  

Great. 

When nothing further could be from the truth in my own organization, if I see things getting a little bumpy with safety, it’s my bellwether. I know that we may have deeper issues somewhere in the operation. They’re one and the same. 

I completely agree. Tell me about where you got that realization, because it’s rare to get a CEO who has that perspective. Obviously, there’s some great case studies from Alcoa as an example. It’s probably the most celebrated. But where did you get that realization that safety really is a barometer for running a good business? 

Well, my career is a little different. I began my career practicing corporate law in Milwaukee and went to go work as a chief operating officer for my favorite client. And they were in the recycling business. So that’s my first exposure to kind of high consequence business because you’re operating recycling plants, trucks and I always look, it was never that I didn’t value safety. Of course, it was always important. But having it be important and knowing how to make it happen are two different things. So, along the way, we sold the recycling company to Waste Management, which is based in Houston. And I got to Waste a couple of years after a new leadership team came in and took, in my opinion, Waste Management on the worst first journey. And I was so lucky to learn from these people. 

So, tell me a little bit about that journey because it’s not a journey that is talked about as much. So, tell me a little bit more about Waste Management and what was unique about the leaders that you observed there and the approaches that they took to running the business safely. 

The approach at Waste Management was behavior based. It was frontline engagement based. So, there was a lot of focus on safety branding. There’s a lot of focus on keeping rules and regulations. Understandable the idea being that if you have all the rules and regulations you want, if they’re not understandable by the intended audience, you don’t have rules and regulations. You have words on paper. 

Exactly. 

So, it was a very front-line engagement, behavior-based focus. When you start talking about safety culture, people tend to think, well, it’s a feel-good proposition. No, it’s a hardcore business proposition. So, there was also a focus on those behaviors which are more likely than not to get you a one-way ticket out of the company. So, I really was able to kind of learn at Waste how to engage, how to motivate, but also how to make it clear that we’re not messing around. And if you choose not to behave in alignment with our values, then you’re going to go find somewhere else to work. 

Yeah, I think that’s really important. So, tell me, let’s fast forward to your current role. I love the topic of frontline engagement. Tell me some of the strategies that you’re using that are very effective, because a lot of organizations talk about engagement, but it’s really not total engagement. Once here and there, I have a workshop involves a couple of employees. Tell me about your approach to engagement. 

Yeah, I mean, you’re right about sometimes people will say, all right, we had the meeting this year. We can check the box and move on. Engagement is not a project. People treat it like a project, or they treat it like an initiative. It’s part and parcel of your company culture. And then your safety culture is also part and parcel of your company culture, where you’ve got an engaged workforce, you’ve got a safe workforce, you got a workforce that is in alignment with your values. So, part of creating an engaged workforce is, first of all, you can’t always be so serious, right. So, we try and have some fun with safety recognition awards. The key thing to do is it’s no longer enough to get into your employees’ hearts and minds. You got to get into the families, too, because we’re just too distracted. We’re a text message Facebook post away from our families at all times. So, one of the things we’re always communicating with families, we want our families to partner with us and getting their loved ones’ home every night. One of my favorite things that we do is we have a kids art contest and everybody wins something, right? 

We pick art, and that goes into our calendar. So, we just released our 2022 calendar. And it’s not pictures of trucks and trailers, pictures from the heart. 

I love it. 

And that’s the key, I think, to engaging people. It makes them understand that safety is about you. It’s about me, it’s about your family. It’s not about big handbooks, and it’s about behavior. It’s about holding yourselves and holding one another accountable. And to create an engaged workforce, employees crave process, because without process, they never know what’s going to happen one day or the next. So, to create engagement, we’ve worked on clear, understandable process. Our employees wrote our best practice manual. 

I love it. 

Nothing off the shelf. 

This part about engaging the families is really interesting because I’ve seen a lot of organizations that are good at engaging, engaging employees and building processes, building practices, which is really good, making it, realizing that safety is really personal. But I think taking it to the family is even more powerful because then you get another ally every day that’s reminding them of why they need to make safe choices. That’s really cool. So, you mentioned a little bit about behaviors. So, most of the work you have, I assume there’s a lot of lone worker, independent workers. How do you make sure that you see the right behaviors on a daily basis? Is it more than an observation program? I’m assuming? 

Yeah. Well, an observation program is really just the beginning. We could all take a lesson from the US airline industry and the FAA, where there’s so much encouragement. It’s really not encouragement. It’s an expectation that people self-report and that there’s no retribution. In other words, for reporting near misses, for reporting unsafe conditions. Part of the observation process. There’s the old saying, manage by walking around. Well, okay, I understand manage by walking around. I could go take a walk around, and it is what it is. But what I’m more interested in is having peers peer to peer observations. Their eyes are better than mine. They’re going to see more than me making sure I’ve got a culture where if somebody in good faith makes a mistake or observes an unsafe condition, unsafe behavior, where it’s an honest type situation that we’re focused on continuous improvement. You see, when you’ve got that punitive culture, you’re never going to engage your employees. If everything is right up in the punishment, the game is over for 100% not going to work 100%. 

I came from the airline industry and understand what that means. But what’s unique is a lot of people admire that of the airline industry but are scared of taking the leap towards it. How did you take that leap towards it? In a jet code to make sure that people would recognize and feel safe, but also that you weren’t going to create more liability, more risk by opening up the absence of punishment. 

Eric, when I speak, I do some keynote speaking. I talk about the three T’s treatment, transparency and trust. And that last one, I could tell you all day long that we’re going to use, quote, unquote punishment only in the most egregious cases. But until you try it, until you test me, it’s just words. 

Yeah. 

If I allow us to get punitive with somebody that innocently and honestly reports a closed call, I know that’s the last near miss, close call that I’m going to get 100%. It’s up to me to manage my behavior, keep my commitment, define those violations that are life critical and that aren’t going to be met with too kindly. And then the others, we look for improving the system. And if we need to do extra training for our team, that’s an investment in our great people. I’m happy to do it. 

That’s cool. So, when you came enroll, how did you start creating the trust? Because it takes a lot of trust to create an environment like this. What signals did you intentionally send in your business to show that you really trusted team members? You wanted their input, and you were going to treat them fairly if something if people made an honest mistake. 

Yeah. Trust is so hard to build, so easy to lose. It’s an everyday challenge. But some of the things that we did this isn’t necessarily safety related. But bear with me. In our business, your pay can be variable. It can be based on either your hours worked, or miles run. There’s variability. And with that comes some potential for payroll error. Nothing like payroll errors destroyed us and we weren’t that good or that timely about fixing the errors. So, what we did is we put together a group email for payroll errors. And we promise if you use that email, the issue would be addressed and fixed, either same day or next day at the latest. That completely fixed the problem, that built trust. And that trust then extended to people’s engagement with the organization and to safety. So, it can’t just be narrowly focused on safety. You have to have an organization where there’s trust, where the door is open, where you’re heard one of the ways that we break trust all the time is we listen to somebody, we give them lip service, we say, yeah, good idea, and then we never follow up. I mean, how does the person giving that information feel? 

So, there’s a lot of different ways we can break trust and just make sure that you and your leadership team are aligned on that. 

I agree, because you talked a little bit about how you brought in just culture. Just culture is a component of it. But for people to understand that safety is a value, that leaders understand it, you have to do a lot of things at the front end, I’m assuming, to create that the environment. 

This episode of The Safety Guru podcast is brought to you by Propulo Consulting, the leading safety and safety culture advisory firm. Whether you are looking to assess your safety culture, develop strategies to level up your safety performance, introduce human performance capabilities, reenergize your BBS program, enhance supervisory safety capabilities, or introduce unique safety leadership training and talent solutions. Propulo has you covered. Visit us www.propolo.com. 

So, Brian, when you started your role, I’m assuming you didn’t inherit a culture that was already at that level of maturity. You’ve talked about just culture and how you created the environment for it. But it takes more than just culture to get a great safety culture. What are some of the things that you did with your leaders to get them on board with where you wanted to go with the culture you wanted to drive? What did you do with some of the team members to really get them aligned with your vision around safety? 

Eric, I’d say that it happened sort of organically. In other words, there was a commitment to safety, but it wasn’t necessarily one that we were delivered about, meaning that other things could compete for safety. That’s why for years I’ve been kind of telling our team, safety is not a priority because priorities shift. If you see a sign that says safety is a priority, tear it down. Safety is a value. So, you got to, first of all, truly be prepared to live that way. Well, production pressure is important. It’s critically important. Production pressure is good. It’s not bad. It means we’re busy. It can never, ever leapfrog safety. Nothing can compete for safety. So, you have to have that nonnegotiable value alignment to start and then to build a healthy company or safety culture. Really? This may sound like I’m oversimplifying it, but I think it is this simple. It’s the convergence of the right people in the right process, working in harmony. And if you don’t have the right people, you might have some choices to make. And I believe that most people are very coachable. But there’s that small handful that’s not. And the real problem comes when you’re trying to build that culture is you got that small handful of un-coachable people who, by the way, are technically good.

They know what they’re doing on their job. So, replacing them is not convenient. But you have to you have to if you really want to walk the walk once coaching has failed. Because if you don’t, Besides the obvious safety risk, you’re telling the rest of your team who are pulling hard in your direction. 

I agree. 

Their efforts don’t matter. By allowing un-coachable toxic people to stay in your company, you’re sending the vast majority of your people the exact wrong message, which is we have two sets of rules, one for all of you and one for our select few people here who can get away with what they want. So, it’s having the right people, the right process. And I think I mentioned before in our conversation that the problem with process in my mind for a lot of us, is not that we don’t have enough, we have too much, we’re drowning in it, and none of us understandable by the intended audience. So, the right people in understandable process that there is no excuse for not following. 

I completely agree. And I think that’s a theme. I personally struggle with that in the past where you allow somebody who’s maybe not right doesn’t have the right values alignment because they’re high performer and you end up paying for it in the long run. And you do have to make those tough decisions at times when coaching has failed, because the other part is, otherwise you’re sending a message to the frontline team members as well that safety is not necessarily always a value. It is when it’s convenient. 

That’s right. It cannot be situational. 

Yeah, I think you’ve done phenomenal work. I love that you really take this view that safety and production and quality can coexist at the same time and must coexist at the same time, and that safety is really a barometer for everything else. There’s a handful of leaders that I’ve seen over the years that look at it that way and invest and make decisions that way. So, I think that’s phenomenal. 

I think I appreciate it. I’ll be honest. I’ve learned it a lot of times the hard way. But people who say, well, safety is expensive, I’d ask them to consider the opposite. Safety is compared to the cost of crashes and incidents. And the other thing is to ask yourself, what is the real cost of that incident? People will look at their insurance loss run’s and they’ll say, well, it was an injury and I’ve got $10,000 reserved. That’s the cost. And I will call Bull on that right away. The cost of an incident is so much more than that. When you think about not just the injury itself and the insurance claim, but put a price on your eyesight, put a price on your arms, put a price on your life. You can’t put some things on a spreadsheet, but I will tell you some things that you can put on a spreadsheet. You let your experience modifier go. Good luck getting the best customers right. Your safety performance gives you a competitive advantage in the marketplace. I don’t know if that was true 20 years ago in a lot of industries, but I know it’s true today. 

So, it is a hardcore business proposition not to mention last year, one of the buzzwords in 2021 was the great resignation, whatever that means. But if you have a culture that doesn’t care about safety, you’re also not investing in your employees and engagement. Why would I want to work for you? If you really are going to put me in harm’s way, you’re not going to help mitigate inherent risk in the job. I’m going to go work for somebody that wants to get me home every night. I’m not going to work for you if you don’t care about me first. So, it’s key to engagement. It’s key to showing your employees you care, putting your employees first. And it’s also key, in this day and age that we live into customer confidence, pretty much any business. You’ve got customers have choices, and the best customers, not all customers, but the best customers are going to vet you for your safety commitment. 

Yeah, I think that’s incredibly true. And I think your comment is really key. I remember looking at this was a particular construction project on the Gulf Coast, and they had a significant investment in safety. They truly own safety across the site. But when you looked at on those really hot, muggy days in summer, their absenteeism was next to none versus almost all the other sites. The upside of Tianism was in the ten to 20% range. And then when it came to turnover, they were dealing with turnover of one to 2% versus others in the ten plus percent. Significant differences because people wanted to work there. People talk about engagement, but at the end of the day, what is engagement if you can’t even come home to your home, to your loved ones every day? 

Yeah. You can pretty much put the pool tables and foosball tables off to the side. 

Right. It doesn’t matter at that point. 

Real engagement happens when people know they are cared for. 

Exactly. So, I love all the themes you’ve shared. You’ve also written a book, and you’ve had to tell me a little bit about your book and the course that you’ve developed, sharing some of your thoughts in this space. 

Sure. Thank you. I wrote a book. We published it, I think, in 2016 called Leading People Safely. We began our conversation talking about waste Management, and I had the privilege to learn from Jim Schultz, who was the senior vice President of safety at Waste Management. We co-wrote Leading People Safely together. So, it’s really a pool of our experiences. In fact, we just did a reprint and paperback. So, it’s sort of, again, the summation of what we know. And it’s not meant to be a handbook like, you must do things this way. You read it, you take the ideas, you make them your own, fit them to your business. But the book is done really well. And then last year, I guess late 2020, I launched a course called Making Safety Happen. And it’s been a lot of fun to do and I’m looking to grow the course this year but it’s an online on demand course, so you watch it at your convenience. There are various tools that you download. Once again, not one size fits all. You download them, make them your own. And then I have two price levels. One price levels for people that want the course and the tools great. 

But then another I do six live monthly workshops and I keep the workshops small, so they’re meant to be conversations. It’s called reverse classroom so six workshops and my course online have six modules so workshop one is tied to module one and then we talk about what was in the course and how you apply it, and we get deeper into discussion. So, the workshops are fun because if I can get the right people in them and we’ve had over 300 people go through already. For me, the fun is listening, learning and having conversations. 

I love it. Thank you as a CEO for the gift of safety you’re giving to your team’s members every single day and your commitment and Congratulations on the NSC prize that you just recently got. I can definitely say from your story that you’re definitely a CEO that gets it and really appreciate you sharing your journey, you’re learning and how you went from being a lawyer to safety guru and executive. 

Thank you so much for having me. I really enjoyed this conversation. 

Thank you so much. 

Thank you for listening to the safety guru on C-suite radio. Leave a legacy distinguish yourself from the past back grow your success, capture the hearts and minds of your teams, fuel your future. Come back in two weeks for the next episode or listen to our sister show with the Ops guru, Eric Michrowski. 

The Safety Guru with Eric Michrowski

More Episodes: https://thesafetyculture.guru/

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Powered By Propulo Consulting: https://propulo.com/

Eric Michrowski: https://ericmichrowski.com

ABOUT THE GUEST

Brian Fielkow is currently CEO of Houston based Jetco Delivery and EVP of its parent company, The GTI Group. Brian has over 25 years of experience leading safety-sensitive industries. He faces the same daily challenges as his audiences when it comes to leading teams, driving safe outcomes and managing risk. Brian grew his businesses dramatically by focusing on his company’s safety culture. Now he shares what has worked — and what hasn’t — with audiences internationally. Today, Brian teaches company leaders how to develop and anchor a behavior-based safety environment that promotes accountability using low cost, easy to implement tools. 

Brian is co-author of Leading People Safely: How to Win on the Business Battlefield.

Fielkow is the recipient of the National Safety Council’s most prestigious honor: the Distinguished Service to Safety Award. Fielkow was recognized by the Houston Business Journal as one of Houston’s most admired CEO’s. He was recognized by NSC as a 2022 “CEO Who Gets It.”

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Driving Safety Leadership through Small Steps and Goal Alignment with Dr. Kevin Kelloway

Driving Safety Leadership through Small Steps and Goal Alignment with Dr. Kevin Kelloway

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ABOUT THE EPISODE

“Safety leadership is a lot like the weather, everybody talks about it, nobody does anything about it,” says Dr. Kevin Kelloway. Kevin shares pragmatic and actionable ideas that can help every leader become a better safety leader. Based on his research, he encourages leaders to track and implement small daily improvements in 5 themes that all successful safety leaders demonstrate: Speaking about safety, Acting Safely, Focusing on Safety, Engaging others in Safety, and Recognizing safety.

This must-listen episode will make your New Year’s safety resolutions a breeze!

READ THIS EPISODE

Real leaders leave a legacy. They capture the hearts and minds of their teams. Their origin story puts the safety and wellbeing of their people first. Great companies, ubiquitously, have safe yet productive operations. For those companies, safety is an investment, not a cost. For the C-suite. It’s a real topic of daily focus. This is The Safety Guru with your host, Eric Michrowski, a globally recognized Ops, safety guru, public speaker, and author. Are you ready to leave a safety legacy? Your legacy success story begins now. 

Hi, and welcome to the Safety Guru today. I’m very excited to have with me Kevin Kelloway. He’s a fantastic researcher, speaker and University Professor at St. Mary’s in the space of occupational health and psychology at St. Mary’s. He has key roles. He’ll talk about it very shortly with a CN research facility there. So, Kevin, welcome to the show. Really excited to have you with me. You’ve got some fantastic research on the leadership side of safety so important, but maybe to get started, tell me a little bit about your journey and how you got into this passion for safety. 

Sure. Okay. Well, thank you, Eric. It’s a pleasure to be here. How did I get into safety? It’s funny. There’s a joke amongst researchers that we research things that are of some sort of personal relevance to us, right? Yeah. I always go back to I grew up in a coal-mining town, and if you live in a coal-mining town, we’re very much a single industry town dominated by a coal mine. And if you grow up in that environment, you become very sensitized to issues of safety, of course, because when I was a kid and in school, there were several major sorts of disasters that just highlighted the role of safety. And then I went on in my studies, I sort of put that away and didn’t think about it too much more until I guess, my first job as a Professor, I was doing research. I did research mainly on stress. And I worked with labor unions. And there was a very prominent Union researcher, guy named Mike Gordon from the States. And I heard him give a talk once saying if researchers supported unions, what they should really do is look at collective agreements, use that as a guide. 

Interesting research, the kinds of things that unions are interested in. Of course, safety is a big one. And then I had a student who was interested in safety who’s now doctor territory. And for her master’s thesis, she did a project on safety. And the striking finding for me in her project was that when you look at we were looking at what predicted whether people became involved in safety programs and things like that. And the strongest predictor of their perception of risk and whether they got involved was actually their perception of leaders. 

And that was even much stronger than their perception of their own accident history. People had accidents had injuries at the workplace, they’d be more likely to see this risky, more likely to get involved in safety. But a much stronger effect was if I thought my supervisor was interested in safety, then I was much more likely to get involved in safety. 

And think about, wow, how powerful is this that it even sort of overwrites your own experience? 

That’s incredible. And I’m assuming the experience as well of those around you. The role of that supervisor is really essential. In other words, and the leaders. 

Right. And your co-workers. So, we’re very much guided by the people around us. And as we’ve gone on with research focusing specifically on leaders, the truism I always use in giving talks on this and doing leadership training is if my boss cares about safety, then I care. 

Right. And if my boss doesn’t care about safety, I don’t care either. 

Interesting. So that gets a great segue into a lot of the work you’ve done around leadership. And when we first spoke, you had great concepts around what is really a leadership model for safety. What are the key elements you want to see? Can you share maybe a little bit more in terms of what that looks like? 

Yeah, this is key. I think. I always say the problem with safety leadership is it’s a lot like the weather. Everybody talks about it. Nobody does anything about it. That was true for a long time. I go to conferences and professional meetings and things like that, and people would be talking about safety leadership, but only in the most generic way. Well, it’s important to be a safety leader. 

Right. And it’s your obligation to be a safety leader. And safety leaders get better outcomes and things like that. And then you say, well, what is a safety leader? What are you talking about? What do you want me to do as a leader? And I was fortunate enough to our local workers compensation group had a leadership conference, and they invited speakers, and they had a neat idea. They invited people who they know from their records have had a dramatic impact on safety. So, they invited leaders from different organizations that have changed in some sense their safety culture and asked them to come and basically tell us what they did. So, we had leaders who had reduced their incident rate by 80%. And when you see that biggest change, you say, well, what are you doing that leads to that. So, they also invited me, but they just wanted me to talk. They wanted me to take basically. So, my job was to sit there and listen for two days and then try to summarize that all in a final session. And it was fascinating because when I listened to leader after leader from all kinds of industries talking about what they did, I realized they’re really talking about the same things. 

So, we formulated that in a model we call the Safer leadership model. And the attempt is to identify the behaviors that result in better safety outcomes. So Safer is an acronym and it stands for leaders to speak about safety. 

Sure. Makes sense, right? 

First, minimal entry point. You have to be talking about safety. And if you don’t talk about safety, people will assume it’s not important.

Sure. Because if you’re a leader in an organization, you talk about what’s important. So, leaders talk about customer service, and they talk about productivity, and they talk about operational issues. If they don’t talk about safety, they’re really sending a message saying it’s not important makes sense. So, leaders have to act safely. So, they have to be a model themselves of what you want to see. If you want people to wear PPE, you better be wearing it too. People are watching what you do. So, we say you have to speak about it. You have to act; you have to focus on safety. So, I think a big problem in organizations is we tend to use safety as a program or a short-term intervention. During NAOSH week, we’ll have a safety speaker, and we’ll have a couple of safety events, and we’ll give away some safety teams merchandise and then that’s it for another year. That’s not how it works. Very clear from the speakers as they were talking that safety is an ongoing thing. You have to build it into your systems and your processes and your operations. So, speak, act, focus. You have to engage others in safety. 

Makes sense. We did a project for about five years. I did a safety project in China. And every year I would go over, and we worked with various industries, and one of them was the construction industry. And the model at the time for these big high rises. When you landed in Beijing, all you saw was construction all over the place. And when you went to these workplaces, their model for safety is there would be one safety officer and there would be hundreds of employees on site. And that safety officer’s job was to be responsible for safety. 

That won’t work. 

And if something bad happened, then they fired. That safety cannot possibly work, right? You cannot possibly supervise that many people or monitor what they’re doing. So, you really need to get other people involved and especially the people doing the work. We say it all the time. Nobody knows the job as well as the people doing it. And that can be really hard for leaders to accept because sometimes they’ve done that job. And they said, well, I did that for 20 years. I know all about it. You know about it when you did it, and now five years later, you’re doing something else and maybe that job has changed. So, we really need to get other people involved and to get ideas from everybody and engage the entire workforce. And then last but not least, we talk about the role of recognition. We need to tell people when they’re doing a good job when they’re doing things. And safety tends to be very punitive in a sense. Right. So that we have safety officers or leaders who walk around the workplace, and if you’re not wearing the PPE or you’re lifting improperly, they’ll call you on it. 

And there might be discipline involved or something like that. But if you’re actually doing all the right things, then you’ll never hear about it. 

Right. And that sets up this very weird dynamic. Right. So, I only know if I’m doing the right thing if nobody’s talking to me. 

Not a good one at all. 

Yeah. So, we said leaders, quite frankly, single best thing you can do as a leader in any context is tell three to five people every day they’re doing a good job. And that’s just as true in safety. And it means as a leader, you have to get out of your office and go around the workplace and watch for people doing a good job. And sometimes it’s hard to see because it fades in the background. You see the mistake. Sure, you don’t see the people doing things right, but we need to find the people who are doing the right things and tell them about it. And when I say tell them I don’t need a complicated reward system or anything like that, I just need leaders going up to somebody who said, I saw what you’re doing, I see that you’re wearing your PPE. I saw the way you did that lift. That’s a great job. Thank you. That’s all you need. 

I love the simplicity of the behaviors you’re talking about. The one that really connects with me right now is the one I’m focusing on safety, because too often what I see is one organization where the executive, the CEO talk about safety. They connect with their teams. They share the expectation. They put the focus on a very regular basis, that safety is how we do business. And then you’ll see another same industry, different organization. And the CEO only gets involved when something goes wrong, and otherwise, it’s the safety’s responsibility. They’re not driving the strategy around safety like they’re driving the strategy around everything else. And generally, outcomes follow that. 

A lot of organizations, safety sits outside our normal processes. So, there’s the way we do our jobs, and then there’s safety over here, and we bring it in when we need it sort of thing. And we know that model doesn’t work back to when the Deepwater Horizon blew up in the Gulf. And I remember reading reports later that year that the company that operated that platform, their executives were getting bonuses for having the best years ever. 

Yes. And you say, how does that happen right now between what’s going on in running our business and then how we manage safety? 

Absolutely. 

The leaders that we’re speaking at conference made it really clear you have to start embedding safety into your systems. 

Yeah. Which makes sense. 

As a leader, you shouldn’t be getting bonuses and your performance pay and all that stuff. If your safety record is abysmal. 

This episode of The Safety Guru podcast is brought to you by Propulo Consulting, the leading safety and safety culture advisory firm. Whether you are looking to assess your safety culture, develop strategies to level up your safety performance, introduce human performance capabilities, reenergize your BBS program, enhance supervisory safety capabilities, or introduce unique safety leadership training and talent solutions. Propulo has you covered. Visit us at propolo.com. 

I love that the behaviors you have are very tangible. It’s very easy, not complicated to understand, am I doing this? Am I not? I don’t need to read a thesis to understand, am I recognizing you said three to five people? Am I putting the right level of focus? Am I engaging people? These are very simple things. The other part is, as I understand from our part of the conversation, you really drive around getting into observable behaviors. So, you cascade this element so I can check to see if you’re doing and daily reflections. Tell me more about those topics, because I think those are areas I’ve played with and definitely seen huge results. And I love this topic. 

Yeah. So safer is sort of the model is the content of safety. 

Sure. And then we had to think about, well, how do you change people’s behavior? And I really draw a lot on my mentor, Julian Barling at Queens University, and we did a lot of leadership training together in the 90s, early 2000s. And one of the things he emphasized is the notion of having a very specific behavioral goal. Three people a day, they’re doing a good job, speak about safety four times a day, something very precise like that. And when it’s that precise and that observable, then it builds in a chance for you to review every day. I tell leaders, if you’re working eight to four, then at 02:00 in the afternoon, I want you to review that checklist say, did I speak about safety four times this day? And I purposely say 02:00, because then if you haven’t done it yet, you still have 2 hours. So, it’s recognizing that doing anything differently, you know, getting better at safety leadership or getting better at anything requires really sort of mindful reflection and monitoring. It doesn’t just happen. Right. It’s not a magic process. So, we encourage leaders to set very specific goals. I’m going to talk about safety four times a day and then review every day. 

Did I do it four times today or not? It’s a simple yes, no question. 

Right. And if you didn’t do it, then go out and try to hit your four. And if you did do it, then you’re good for today. Move on to tomorrow, especially New Year’s. Everybody sets resolutions, people buy Fitbits or whatever. And they set up to 1000 steps a day. 

Yes. Now, I don’t know if you know this, but that is absolute magic. And there is nothing magical about 10,000 steps. It’s actually a mistranslation. You probably don’t need 100 steps. But if you set that goal, everyone I’ve ever talked to has done this has found themselves at 11:00 at night walking up and down their hallway, the last steps. So, they achieved the goal for the day, right. 

Right. And it’s the power of having that very specific number coupled with that review process, and it makes it much more likely that you’re going to do that behavior and do it consistently every day. 

I think it’s a really good analogy. And there’s a degree of I’m measuring but you’re not measuring something that could drive the wrong behavior, like putting a goal on an injury rate or putting a goal on something that could drive or even observations that could drive something. That’s not what we intended, but rather things that will do no harm. Right. There’s no harm if you go recognize five people today for something they did around safety. 

Yes. And a lot of what we do in safety can have sort of unintended consequences. A lot of organizations, for example, if you drive a vehicle and you have an accident, then they do a mandatory drug test. 

Yes. And that sounds like a very sensible policy. But if you talk to employees, what happens a lot in practice is they have a minor accident, they don’t report it and they don’t report it now because they don’t want the mandatory drug tests. 

Right. So, we’ve actually driven the incidents. We’re trying to reduce we haven’t reduced them. We’ve just driven them underground. So, we don’t know about them. 

In those goals, you’re really sharing ideas that I self-reflect, and I set those goals. Have you had some success around cascading goals, working with a leader and cascading and any guidance around this since we’re talking about New Year’s resolution and some ideas around goals and how do you drive it? Is there some value in driving this, or is this really something where you’ve seen the most profound effect when it’s a personalized commitment? 

In doing leadership training in organizations. One of the things I’ve noticed, like anybody, we’ve had successes and failures in doing training. And the characteristic of when it’s been a real success in organizations and we’ve seen major changes is when everybody is involved, from the top leader down to the front-line supervisor, they’re all in the training, they’re all making goals. The senior leaders are sitting in on the training as well and setting goals. And in my favorite example, the VP in charge showed up to every session to say to the group of leaders there, this is what we’re doing, right? This is what we’re doing from now on. This is the way we’re going to do this. This is not a passing fed. As long as I’m here, this is what we’re doing. And in session, he sat in just as a participant. But in every session, one of the senior leaders was there to deliver that same message. That’s when it seems to have real power and you’re changing the culture of the workplace, I think you could have a more limited effect individually if I decide just this is something I’m going to take on. 

I heard this podcast. There are some interesting ideas. I’m going to try it out. You’ll have an effect on the people in your immediate vicinity, but it’s when every leader in an organization is taking it on. That’s when you start to see really large-scale change. 

And it really links back to small changes every day. Tiny habits. Whichever book you pick up those talks about small habits you implement, like the Fitbit is try to I just had that experience this morning because my Apple Watch was telling me I hit a certain goal. So, it’s time to up my goal for next week from an activity and calorie standpoint. 

Yes, exactly. Yeah. So that monitoring that measurement that a lot of people are doing now around fitness, really, it does have a motivational effect, just having that goal. Right. And it makes it more likely to do the behavior as a result of that. That’s going to have some downstream effects in terms of what safety in your workplace actually looks like. 

So, I think this is a great topic for leaders. Listening into the show is really lovely, safer model just in terms of what are the behaviors that I should be trying to demonstrate on a regular basis and really setting those small goals and checking in every day. I used to say check in every week if you’re too busy. And I had a similar example where somebody set a goal for themselves and for them. It was every Thursday at the end of the day, they put in their calendar saying, I’ll check how many recognitions I’ve given around safety. And if I’m not satisfied with that number, I’m going to go make it up on Friday. But I think your idea of everyday at 02:00 P.m. Is even better because it’s that frequency is a check-in of how am I doing and how do I close that goal? So great concept. 

And much like you and your Apple Watch, we say to leaders, I can give you the behavior recognize other people for safety, you have to pick the number because depending on your personality, it might seem like an incredibly hard thing to do to recognize one person. 

Maybe that’s so far out of your comfort zone, but that is incredible. Well, okay, let’s start with one then. If you say to me, well, I already recognized four people a day, well, then let’s make it five people a day. Or let’s switch our focus to another goal that you can add to that. 

We try to work with leaders wherever they are. We don’t set some impossible standards. You have to go run a marathon. Say, okay, well, let’s just say we’re going to start with 30 minutes of walking today. 

Sure. Exactly.  

Take people from where they are. And I like it because it ties back to the acronym. We’re not trying to make you the safest leader, just safer. Just a little more than you are now. Baby steps. And I said, that’s enough. 

I love the simplicity. I love how easily it can be action. And I love how it gives you the reminder. And there’s so many parallels you can take from a fitness standpoint. They really show that that’s a good model to drive forward. I’d love to Pivot. I think you’ve shared some great ideas, very actionable ones, around leadership. I’d love to touch on really the link between mental well-being and safety. So, we’ve had a few guests talk about those topics. What tends to happen in a lot of organizations is HR looks after mental well-being, if anybody does. And then on another side of how safety a bit like you talked about before, looks out at the safety side. So, I love to hear a little bit in terms of how do we break down that silo and why should we? 

Yeah. And it’s incredible how thick those walls are. In many organizations. I’ve done quite a bit of work on the notion of a healthy workplace and improving the psychologically healthy workplace. And you almost invariably find you’re not talking to the safety people anymore, that it’s two different organizational structures that don’t talk to each other. And you start saying, well, wait a minute, this is all a piece of one thing. Sure. Right. It’s all about employee well being and keeping them both safe and healthy and trying to contribute to their safety and well-being. And the notion that we separated just doesn’t make sense to me. And in some cases, I think safety people, because they work in that space of trying to change behaviors, are used to the topic, and should be taking on more health-oriented things as well. And frankly, I think there’s some resistance there that people want to deal with what they know about. Sure. And I think that’s a barrier that we have to work on. But also segmenting health and safety just doesn’t seem to work for me. So, we get this move toward a, you know, greater attention to mental health in the workplace. 

And I think one of the effects of segmenting it this way is we have tended in that mental health space to focus on trying to change individuals. So, we teach people to manage their stress, and we do lunchtime, yoga, or mindfulness or whatever we do. But again, it’s what I just said doesn’t work in terms of safety. It doesn’t work to have these programs that are sporadic. We need real change in the workplace. I think the same is true in mental health and in particular organizations should be looking at, again, to draw on safety language. What are the root causes of mental ill-health that are in the workplace? What is the workplace doing to contribute to somebody’s lack of well-being, and how can we fix that? So, stop trying to change individuals, but focus more on the place conditions. 

The system, the context in which people are operating. Have you seen organizations that have broken down those silos effectively that have found ways used to bring the linkage because we’ve had some guest speakers even on the show talking about how if I’m not well from a mental wellbeing standpoint, I’m also more prone to getting injured that day because I may not have as much focus on the task at hand and things of that nature. So really speaking about how those two items are really intertwined, interrelated that even if you want to improve safety performance, you probably also in some industries, particularly need to start looking at mental well-being as well. 

Yeah. And Janelle, at least from the research literature, that’s almost a new recognition. The idea that your mental health and those traditional metrics of incidents or injuries at work are interrelated. So, a colleague of mine, Nick Turner at the University of Calgary, in the business school there, he’s done some really interesting work looking at the relationship between mental health and safety outcomes, and the data suggests that they are there. 

So, we can look at both sides of that. If people are getting injured, they’re more than likely to be anxious or depressed. Certainly, anyone who works in the return to the workspace will tell you somebody injures their back, say it on the job site, and then can’t go back to their regular job. At least half of what’s going to keep them off is the depression resulting from that. 

If you have an injury that is life-changing in the sense that you cannot go back to the job that you knew and the job that you trained for. Not surprisingly, people get depressed about that, and that feeds into the amount of time you’re actually off work. 

Absolutely. Which makes perfect sense. What would be some of the ideas to help get the safety professionals to explore better partnerships, maybe with HR or at least better interventions that touch on both? 

Yeah. I think those walls can be so thick. I think the first step is to get those two groups talking to each other and understanding each other. Right. And I think safety brings a lot to the table in the sense that people in safety are used to analyzing risks and looking at things from a risk perspective, looking at the environment very common in safety to look around and say, well, if somebody’s going to get hurt, how are they going to get hurt? Right. Let’s identify the conditions that lead to that. I think that’s a valuable perspective to bring to the mental health arena, too. 

Right damaging people psychologically. How are we doing that? And maybe is there something better we can do, or can we stop doing that? 

Can we protect people better? 

Great. So really appreciate you coming on the show, Kevin. You’ve shared some great, really actionable ideas from a leadership standpoint and also in teams of how you drive change within the organization and then finally this is a really important topic around mental well-being and linking better connections from a safety standpoint. Thank you for taking the time to join us. If somebody wants to get in touch with you, what’s the best way to do that? 

The easiest way is I’m at St. Mary’s University. My email is Kevin Kellaway Kelloway at SMU. Ca, right? That’s the easiest way to reach me and I’m on email all the time. 

I have no way and you’ve written lots of books over the years, shared lots of ideas, do a lot of research. I really appreciate you sharing a couple of really important topics with our listeners today. Thank you. 

Thank you for listening to the safety guru on C-suite radio. Leave a legacy distinguish yourself from the pack grow your success, capture the hearts and minds of your teams fuel your future. Come back in two weeks for the next episode or listen to our sister show with the Ops Guru, Eric Michrowski. 

 

The Safety Guru with Eric Michrowski

More Episodes: https://thesafetyculture.guru/

C-Suite Radio: https://c-suitenetwork.com/radio/shows/the-safety-guru/

Powered By Propulo Consulting: https://propulo.com/

Eric Michrowski: https://ericmichrowski.com

ABOUT THE GUEST

Dr. E. Kevin Kelloway is the Canada Research Chair in Occupational Health Psychology and Professor of Organizational Psychology at Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

A prolific researcher he is has authored over 200 articles and chapters and authored/edited 15 books to date. His research focuses on occupational health psychology and, in particular, how leaders affect health and safety within organizations. Kevin has been elected a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, the Canadian Psychological Association, the International Association for Applied Psychology and the Society for Industrial/Organizational Psychology. In 2016 he served as President of the Canadian Psychological Association. Kevin works with both private and public sector clients on issues related to leadership, safety and HR management and is a popular speaker at conferences and corporate events.

Website: kevinkelloway.com

Twitter: @ohpsychologyca  

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As you prepare to ring in the new year, tune in to this special episode featuring safety experts Eric Michrowski, Martin Royal, Eduardo Lan, and Dr. Josh Williams from Propulo Consulting. They take the time to discuss important topics such as how to return to the workplace safely, learning organization, investment in safety coaching, and the evolution of Human and Organizational Performance. You are sure to gain beneficial insights as each expert highlights a specific safety megatrend to focus on in 2022.

Happy New Year!

READ THIS EPISODE

Real leaders leave a legacy. They capture the hearts and minds of their teams. Their origin story puts the safety and wellbeing of their people first. Great companies ubiquitously have safe yet productive operations. For those companies, safety is an investment, not a cost for the C-suit. It’s a real topic of daily focus. This is the Safety Guru with your host, Eric Michrowski, a globally recognized option safety guru, public speaker, and author. Are you ready to leave a safety legacy? Your legacy success story begins now. 

Hi, and welcome to the Safety Guru today. I’m very excited as we start preparing the countdown for the new year to have a great episode lined up for you. It’s four safety megatrends. Trends for 2022, 22 is the year ahead is two plus two. So, we have four experts with us that are going to share four key megatrends to start looking out for in 2022. 

Wow. Are you ready? Let’s go. Three, two, one together with me. 

I have Dr. Josh Williams, who’s been on our show several times. Josh, do you want to say a quick intro to yourself, everybody? 

Yeah, I’m happy to be here excited for 2022. And I’ve been doing this 20 something years, getting old. But looking forward to our session today. Thanks, Eric. 

Excellent. Well, thank you. And also have with me, Martin Royal. Martin Royal has been with Propulo for well over ten years. He’s been doing a lot of phenomenal work with leaders as part of organizational change. Martin, do you want to do a quick intro to yourself? 

For sure. Thanks, Eric. Glad to be on the show today and looking forward to discussing more about learning cultures today. 

Excellent. Thank you. Eduardo, who is coming back on the show, partners with Propulo Consulting, has been doing phenomenal work or driving organizational change more specifically, last 15-20 years, specifically around safety culture. Eduardo, welcome back. 

Thank you, Eric. Happy to be here with you and the rest of the audience really looking forward to this conversation and to helping leaders create environments where people can work safely and do so because they want to not just because they have to. 

Excellent love that. Okay. So, four topics, as I promised, looking at 2022. First one, we’re going to talk a little bit about the new normal with COVID. What is back to the workplace means how it’s impacting mental health, stress, fatigue and active care and what that means for safety. Then we’re going to talk into Behop with Dr. Josh, leading the conversation around some of the evolution around behavior-based safety integration around human performance. Then we’re going to go jump into Martin, who’s going to talk about learning organization, one of the key themes of a great safety culture and moving on. Really where the rubber hits the road. We’re going to pass it on to Eduardo, who’s going to talk about supervisory skills and how do you Hone those into 2022 to get real impact? 

So first, let me start a little bit on the new normal. So obviously dates have been changing for returning to the workplace. New variants are up in the news as we record this episode getting ready for the new Year hybrid remote work, return to work. Who really knows what’s happening? Some businesses have set on it. 

Some are still migrating. Well, what does that mean? From a safety standpoint? First, from a mental health standpoint, it’s so important. We’ve talked about another episode of The Safety Guru. Mental health is critically important, not just from wellbeing of the workforce, thinking about all the effects that mental health has taken over the last two years or so. But it also has a direct impact when it comes to safety performance. If you’re maybe distracted, there’s things on your mind. You’re not focused full attention on your job that poses a safety risk. 

And so that’s whereas a safety professional, it’s really important to start bridging that divide between mental health, which is often discussed in the HR field with the safety side of the equation. And that’s really where active care matters. If I know who my team members are, I notice that maybe somebody’s off a little bit today. Maybe I need to check in to see how they’re doing. Are they okay? I love there’s this quote in Australia where the way they talk about mental health is simply with the expression, Are you okay? 

So really reflecting connecting with your team members, knowing when something is a little bit different, something’s a little bit off and having the courage to jump in and really check in with them. So mental health, I think, is going to be hugely important as we start getting into 2022. The next one is really around stress and fatigue. We’ve talked about a lot. We’ve done some work internally on our list of the five key drivers of human error. Number one on that list is stress and fatigue. 

Stress is obviously incredibly present. Over the last 18 to 20 months, people have been mostly working harder, longer hours. There are more changes in the workplace that drives stress that also drives fatigue. If I’m not getting a good night rest, then I’m going to be more fatigue, which we know can put me in front of greater risk when I’m not fully there and fully focused, which really gets me into active care. And really that theme around something that most organizations have been talking about for the last 2030 years around safety. 

It really does matter. I talked about it before in terms of mental health. I know my team members; I know how they’re showing up. I’m more likely to be able to notice that something is different. I wrote an article just a few weeks ago. It was published in Forbes magazine. We had done a survey several months back and 80% of businesses that we had surveyed. We had talked to obviously, on the more mature side of safety, cultures reported that they had shown some improvements around how leaders showed up around active care. 

Phenomenally important. What’s important is also how do I embed that into the business? How do I start thinking about those themes, capturing the learnings and really making it real in the day to day? If you haven’t checked it out, that’s on Forbes. Forbes.com (https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2021/12/01/beyond-back-to-normal-embedding-positive-changes-into-your-safety-culture/?utm_content=189459539&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin&hss_channel=lcp-27064223&sh=19ea9f7432e9). You can have a quick look and really around active care is really this element of self-leadership. And how as a leader, I’m building in a conversation how I’m being recognized and that has a direct correlation to outcomes. We were doing some work with one of our clients. 

And what was really interesting is we started seeing a strong correlation between outcome indicators of safety performance and whether team members had interacted over the last month around safety. Perhaps with coaching conversations. That element of felt leadership was so directly correlated to outcomes really critically important. Josh is going to talk about it very soon when we start talking about conversations he shared just this morning with me an article that talked about how having good conversations around observations can lead to 47% improvement around Sith’s and a 60% reduction around hazards showing up in the workplace. 

So, on that note, I don’t know if any of you have anything to jump in on this theme of mental health, stress and fatigue and active care. So critical as you start looking at 2022 and really bridging the gap between what’s traditionally the domain of HR and the domain of safety. Yeah. 

I mean, my experience I think we could all in this collection relate to. It is when we’re talking with folks, whether we’re doing assessments, interviews, focus groups, we’re hearing stress more and more. Ever since Kobe hit everybody we talked to; it seems like doing more with less. It’s tough. So, we feel for people out there. Everyone’s kind of in the same boat struggling through it. And the felt leadership is a big part. But we’re going to talk about human performance and how that relates to default leadership. 

And, Eric, if I can let me just jump in for a bit, human performance is all the rage right now. People are talking about hop, or we call it Bee hop. So just a quick. I’m just going to do a quick background on behavioral safety, kind of the evolution and human performance and what that means for the good conversations we need to have with folks and this notion of felt leadership, how we transform a culture. So just back in the old days, when I was coming up, behavioral safety was taken over. 

Before that, there was a lot of emphasis on attitudes and motivation. Those are important things. The challenge was, what do we do with it? Sometimes you get a one and done motivational inspiring presentation or whatever or training. But then that’s it. What do we do? So behavioral safety came in. And of all the research out there, if you want to get nerdy and start looking up statistics and research in the safety field, you’re not going to find more than you will on behavioral safety. It has been studied for decades. 

There’s all kinds of science and research showing the benefits of behavioral safety and what it did was kind of transform the focus, not just in teams of what I’m thinking and feeling, but what am I doing? As we all know, if you minimize risky behaviors on the front end, you minimize the chance of something bad happening on the back end. I mean, I hate to be cold talking about human life, but in many ways it is a math equation. Fewer risky behaviors in the front end equals less chance of something going wrong in the back and doesn’t guarantee it. 

But it makes it a lot less likely. So, focusing on behavior is smart. And so behavioral safety comes along. And there’s science behind it. And one of the biggest benefits is you’ve got checklists that are used to see what’s going on, what’s working? Well, what’s not working? Well, theoretically, we’re getting input from people doing the work, hearing what they have to say and making changes based on it’s a beautiful system. Martin is going to talk about learning culture in a moment, but it’s a beautiful system when done properly to get that input, to create a true learning culture on a regular basis, as opposed to kind of one and done training sessions. 

The challenge is it’s not easy to do so as we transition to talk about Bee hop and human performance. On the behavioral safety side, three big things happened that made it difficult to do. First are implementations being poor. It became a commodity, so people are buying and selling behavior-based safety. So, people are throwing out checklists without the proper training with no discussion on conversations, essentially saying, here’s a checklist and go use it very quickly. When I was in graduate school, we did research with funded by NIOS at a company. 

Half the group was given a card and said, Go use it. The other half created their own checklists and rules for use and other things around it. We call it the participation group. They use their cards seven times more than the people that were simply told here’s a card and go do it. And too often with behavioral safety failures, there was not a proper implementation on the front end. It was here’s a card here’s how you fill it out. Go do it. So not surprisingly, it didn’t work. 

That was the first big. The second big issue was technology, and it’s great to have technology help us whom we’re doing various functions on the job. But these behavioral checklists got increasingly long because it was easy to fill out on technology. So, I’m filling out a 50 or 60 item checklist. That’s crazy. Nobody’s doing that properly or very few people are. It became a problem became all about the cards and the checklists and the quotes you get you one in at the end of the month. 

So now that you got the system of quotas of pencil whipping and a larger problem of this black hole where we’re feeling stuff out and we never hear back. So, employees are not talking to each other first. But second, they’re bringing up issues that are important and no one’s getting back to them. So not surprisingly, behavioral safety. There were some struggles. The third issue was simply it’s hard. It’s hard to maintain something long term. So, we got to acknowledge that, particularly on the behavioral side. So, as I’m trying to go quick on the hop side, on the Behop side, we’re talking about human performance and the two big tenants there one quit blaming people for getting hurt, Demi said this years ago. 

Don’t blame people for problems created by the system. The second part of that is to fix the system. The first response when someone gets hurt is not who screwed up. It’s where the system fails. We’ve got to reorient our thinking to understand that we all operate in a context. And if we improve the system, it influences our behavior. The very quick story. I got to do one sports analogy really quick. Random lost, great receiver, troubled guy problems throughout his career on and off the field goes to the Patriots. 

Not that I’m a Patriots fan, but they’ve got a tight system overnight. He’s a night and day guy. He’s out in the community doing all the stuff for charity. Now he’s on TV doing this stuff. Total transformation. Same guy in a different system behaves very differently. If we improve systems, we’re improving the likelihood of better attitudes and better behaviors out there. So, I just want to kind of point that out really quick. Two more thoughts here before we transition over here to Martin in terms of the Bee hop, what we call it, it’s behavioral and human performance. 

There’s a lot more emphasis on people talking to each other. As Eric mentioned earlier, it’s about having good conversations, these cards that we use when we roll it out with clients. We’re talking four or five things. What scares you about the job? What do we need to do differently? What would you do differently? How can we help? These are open ended questions, getting people talking. And if we respond to that and address issues based on those comments, you don’t need incentives and all these other gimmicky things to get people to fill them out. 

They want to because stuff is getting addressed. So, the Behop is all about conversations and being responsive to concerns when they’re being brought up. And again, mistakes are seen as opportunities to learn, as opposed to occasions to punish. It’s all that just culture people are talking about in a nutshell that’s what it is. So, the last point really quick is positive accountability. Some of the concerns that people have with human performance is we’re getting any personal accountability when mistakes happen. It’s not true. We’re just trying to reorient to the first response being address the system factors and supervisors. 

It’s a tough role for supervisors who are trying to keep. They need to set clear expectations and use positive means to maintain those expectations that we’ve all agreed on. That’s positive accountability. It’s doable it’s hard, but it’s doable. So, the end of this is essentially when be hop is done properly, we’re improving Felt leadership. There are various tools like leadership listening to us. Leaders are going up asking questions. They’re not going around saying good, bad or indifferent. They’re out there asking questions, trying to learn that creates an environment of openness, which is part again of that felt leadership saying felt leadership is one thing. 

Using listening tours is actually doing it. So, there are some tools and human performance that help with that felt leadership we mentioned as well as good conversation. So, with that said, I’ll turn it over. Martin, we’re going to talk more about learning culture. 

Yeah. And I think before I go there, I just want to emphasize I think your point around Behop is really key. A lot of people have implemented some form of observation program, many of them it’s not working anymore. People aren’t using it. They’re mailing it in, don’t throw it out with a bad water. It’s time to start thinking about how do you re energize? How do you get better conversations? And I love your approach, Brad. Deeper questions to ask people to reflect on what’s dangerous, about what you’re going to do today and really start deepening those relationships, but always keeping those elements from the behavioral base safety side that does work. 

So, thank you, Josh. Martin. So, you’re going to talk to us a little bit about learning organization. Probably one of the key themes of a great safety culture. 

This episode of the Safety Guru podcast is brought to you by Propulo Consulting, the leading safety and safety culture advisory firm. Whether you are looking to assess your safety culture, develop strategies to level up your safety performance, introduce human performance capabilities, re energize your BBS program, enhance supervisory safety capabilities, or introduce unique safety, leadership training and talent solutions. Propulo has you covered! Visit us at propulo.com. 

For sure. Thanks, Eric. And I’d like to share a bit more today about my prediction for the future of learning organization, but also to combine that with our focus on discretionary effort, the employee experience and safety. Because for our listeners probably are aware that at Propulo, we focus on discretionary effort as a way for our clients to gain a competitive advantage when it comes to safety and safe production. And what we know is that when it comes to workplace behaviors that drive safety, there are those that are we call our compliance behaviors completing hazard assessment form following safe work procedures, wearing the right PPE. 

But what we found it’s not sufficient for the workforce to engage in compliance behaviors to drive exemplary safety performance. These, beyond the minimum behaviors, are more difficult to measure, and they often involve positive safety behaviors that are targeted toward achieving your safety goals, like staying vigilant in the face of changing conditions, supporting the team, sharing safety information. And of course, we won’t see any of these behaviors listed on any employee job description. But a lot of our organizations that are doing extremely well safety wise will have employees or greater proportion of employees that demonstrate this behavior. 

And what’s interesting about this Krishna effort is that it only emerges when there’s a high level of workforce engagement and commitment so that discretionary effort is the behavioral manifestation of engagement. I wanted to share some insight today around the concept of worker experience, how an organization that focuses on learning and how can we increase that discretionary effort in our workforce? Now, why is the worker experience? What does it matter? I would say the employee experience is the hallmark of learning organization because the emphasis is on developing the mindset, the behaviors and systems that are conducive to have an optimal employee experience that will encourage high safety performance and discretionary effort. 

Now for the listeners that are maybe familiar within the Its industry. So, software companies have talked about the user experience for quite some time. It’s to describe the experience of app users how they engage with the app. It’s a concept that focuses on the emotional response of users and how they interact with the features and functions Facebook, Google, Twitter, or Masters of this to create engaging users’ experience. Now, the same ideas we can take four employees in the organization. So, employee or the worker experience just simply describe how employees think and feel through every touch point during their time with the organization could be recruitment, onboarding development, performance to things like long absences of work, remote working on boarding or things like incident investigation, injury, radiation, disciplinary action. 

Why we want to look at this employee experience is simply that the employee experience underlies the commitment and engagement that we need to drive discretionary effort. And you could think about it that your employees experience with safety management system will determine at the end the extent to which they will adopt, use and improve on the system. I wanted to share an example that remind me of our clients of ours, a European zinc and silver mine that I happened to visit. I think five, six years ago and their agency team would share with us their concerns that the miners were not reporting near misses, not anything that surprising. 

We’ve heard of these kinds of concerns before now, putting the mindset aside around reporting names when you look at the process of reporting narratives at that point, it was quite cumbersome and at first we have to understand the workers operated at 500ft below ground, and there was no way for them to fill out any form whatsoever. If any incident or near misses were happening. These near miss forms were in a building adjacent to where the miners would meet before taking off. At the end of the day, the form itself was convoluted. 

Workers would drop it off in a box to preserve anonymity, which is good. But then no one would hear back from these reports or if any, corrective actions were taking place. And so, while many leaders are often tempted to blame workers for poor attitudes towards incident reporting or lack of motivation, when you look at these workers experience of the near miss reporting system, you can see it’s quite easy how someone might just feel frustrated, disempowered to submit these kinds of reports, let alone even appreciating the value of doing so. 

If we want to build on more positive employee experience around safety system, a couple of things that we can look into. One is looking at the factors. The main factor that may drive that positive experience could be the safe work procedures, safety policies, tools and equipment learning and reporting system safety communication teams, the reward and recognition system field oversight. I would even go to look at the coworkers and peer relationship, and the goal would be to determine how workers experience the system and whether the system is supporting their intended goal, which we’ll presume. 

It is about encouraging error identification, prevention and mitigation. Now, what if I’m a manager and I’d like to improve my employees experience? All right. So, a couple of things for me, I would say as a leader, I would say, start with yourself, how are your employees experiencing you? Do they feel they are treated fairly? Do they feel that you value their opinion and contribution? Do they feel they’re encouraged and supported? Do they feel that you provide them with opportunities for development? Do they feel that you hold them accountable for high safety standards, or even do they feel that you should have the concern for them as individual? 

I say that’s the first and as Josh mentioned earlier, basically, it is about going and talking to our people, talking to workers and getting that sort of feedback. But here’s the thing as a second step. So, I would say that you start with yourself as a leader. Second, is you could do the same with your front-line supervisors and also try to get that feedback is how are the workers experiencing your front-line supervisors? Same kind of question to start to get a sense of how or why are they doing the things they do? 

And are there elements around the leadership that could be improved now? Third, might be around the system that you want to gather feedback on, which often requires to get out in the field. Get the feedback. Seek to understand the experience of this system what works and what doesn’t work. My experience is we need to ask all the right questions, especially if the workers have not been accustomed to providing any input, especially to senior leaders. So, questions might be things like what gets in the way for you to work safely? 

How can we improve our approach to report safety incident or name another safety system that we want to look into? What do you think we could improve? What are the things you think about our recognition program? So, I’ll recommend you pick just a different list of systems that are more critical that you want to get feedback on and just go out there to get that feedback. Now, one thing I’ll say, though, you might need for in certain workspaces might need to build a trust first. If trust is in there. 

One of the reasons is if people have had some mistress or senior management, they may not open up. And so, we’re going to need to start building that trust, building a bit of the commitment that if the feedback is provided that’s something will be done about it. And so, as a leader, I would say the goal is not to make commitments to make massive critical infrastructure improvement, but more small improvements that demonstrate that. Hey, we listen to you, and we are going to take action to make things better. 

So, we’ll see later on a note that my colleague will Home in on the supervisor’s experience. But I wanted to share that as a learning organization at the end of the day, it’s really about looking, how are we operating and what’s the impact on our workforce? And if we want to give them a better experience, what are some of the changes we can take on? 

Thank you. Thank you, Martin. I think this whole theme of learning organization so key to safety and definitely should be an area of focus going into 2020. Eduardo, you’ve talked last time you were on the show, you talked a little bit about supervisory skills, couldn’t agree more. It’s really where the rubber hits the road. This is where safety culture really manifests itself and how you have impact is going to be how the supervisor interacts with team members. And too often I’ve heard team members saying they’ll trust a supervisor. 

They’ll do what their supervisor does. They’re more important to them day to day than the CEO even is. So, Eduardo over to you. 

Yeah, absolutely. Eric. And thank you, Martin and Josh as well. Yeah, it is really where the rubber meets the road. And I understand what you’re saying about what workers comment in teams of their relationship to their supervisor. And he or she is being more important than the CEO. Now, this is logical, because oftentimes they don’t even know the CEO. They’ve seen them on a pamphlet on a brochure. They’ve heard him speak, maybe, but they don’t know him or her personally. And they do know the supervisor. And so that person, really the supervisor is where the rubber meets the road. 

I would say for two reasons, one because they are in direct contact with the worker, and thus they are able to influence that person and they do for good or for bad constantly. And second, because supervisors are really between a rock and a hard place. And Josh was mentioning that we feel for people, and we feel for supervisors because we understand the challenges that they face between producing and keeping people safe. And it is a challenge. It’s not easy to handle that challenge, but it can be done. 

And we know from experience and from working with many, many organizations that when organizations and supervisors and other more senior leaders focus on safety, people work better. They produce more they produce with higher quality. But if supervisors are really where the rubber meets the road, we need to invest in them, and we need to train them, and we need to develop them. And unfortunately, that is usually not the case. Supervisors are usually promoted through the ranks in organizations because of what they know because of the type of worker they are and the level of performance they have. 

Which one? In one sense, it’s important that they know the job, that they know the technical aspects of the job, because they’ll be supervising people directly. But oftentimes many of the things that made them stand out as individual workers get in the way of them being effective leaders, because being an effective worker is really about getting stuff done by yourself, being assertive and as a leader, you really need to get stuff done to other people, and that requires leadership skills and leadership skills are very different from technical skills. 

We’re talking here about your capacity to create relationship, your capacity to interact with people, your capacity to listen to people, to get people thinking, to get people speaking to get people. And that discretionary effort that Josh and Martin were talking about is key. And there is no one in the organization that has more power to really generate that container, that environment where people are willing to go that extra mile, to be creative, to think about things, to stop and pause before they do the work, then supervisors, so really investing in them and developing them as leaders is key. 

Now to do that, we need to give them all these skills that I talked about. And one key skill that I think is crucial is helping them to become better coaches, because, in essence, and with the type of work that people do nowadays in industry essential, that their direct leader, that is their supervisor and be able to coach people so that they themselves can become more self aware, become better at managing themselves, really coaching people to think about the work that they’re doing and to consider what are the risks, what are the hazards that they will be facing and how they will be mitigating those risks. 

Now again, unfortunately, because these are not necessarily skills that we have. Naturally, some supervisors develop them naturally, and we’ve seen Rockstar supervisors, but many don’t. They’ve never developed them, and they’ve never been taught. But these are really skills that are essential because it’s in those coaching conversations that supervisors have with workers that you will get workers to really look at how they work, look at their behavior and really get them to think about what they’re doing so that they don’t get hurt on the job. In this regard, we’ve come up with very specific skills that we teach supervisors, and we do so both in a classroom setting. 

And this is not your typical classroom with lots of PowerPoint slides and lots of concepts. No, these are about supervisors having conversations about what challenges they’re having with people, what it is that they want workers to do that they’re currently not doing and what they can do to get workers to do this. And these classes are full of role plays where they act out that relationship between worker and supervisor and how to have those conversations. And ultimately, we even develop supervisors through field coaching, having them practice these skills in real life situations. 

And some of these skills have to do. We come up with an acronym called Dare, and we call it Dare because it really takes courage to lead in this way. First off, because we’re not used to leaving in this way, and it’s going to be uncomfortable starting out. Second of all, because we’re asking supervisors to step away from this traditionally authoritative role of I’m the boss. I’m the supervisor. I’m going to tell you what to do when you’re going to do it to more collaborative relationship. 

And so that takes certain things. It takes the ability, as I said before, to create relationship. As you’ve all mentioned during this conversation, it really takes an ability to not just care for people which most supervisors do. We don’t doubt that, but to actively show that care and to delegate work in a manner that promotes safety. Now, what do I mean by this? Telling people what to do and how to do it does not work. First off, you don’t know whether the other person heard you, and you certainly don’t know whether the other person understood you and so telling someone what to do and how to do it. 

And then we tend to ask people or supervisors tend to ask people, did you understand? And of course, people are going to say yes, I should, of course. But that doesn’t mean they understood. It just means they’re saying that because they don’t want to look foolish. So, delegating work effectively means telling people what to do, but asking them how they’re going to do it, and furthermore, asking them what risks they will be facing and how they will mitigate those risks. Second, and this again takes courage because it’s not something we’re used to the A in there is about acknowledging safe work, and this is really key. 

We know from years and years of studies in various fields that people really thrive in an environment where they are recognized, they are appreciated. They’re acknowledged for the things that they do. And yet traditionally, we don’t do that. We just focus on what’s wrong. Now, here’s the problem with focusing on what’s wrong. Many people will say, well, that’s where I need to focus. That’s where the gap is. I need to talk about what’s wrong. The problem is it’s unfair and it’s counterproductive, and it’s unfair because people do more right things. 

They do more safe work than they do dangerous work. And thus, speaking to them always about what they do wrong. What they do unsafely is unfair. And second, it’s unproductive, because if I Eric, I’m your supervisor and I come to you and I correct you, and then I come again and I correct you again, and then I come back and I correct you again. What’s going to happen? The fourth time I come around, are you going to be all happy to see? 

I’m sure I’m going to be thrilled to see you. 

Exactly. You’re going to hate me. So, it’s really important to do that. The next aspect is redirecting at risk work, and that, of course, is important. We need to redirect unsafe behaviors. We need to redirect unsafe conditions, but it takes skill to do that such that you can redirect without offending the other person in a way that not just maintains but actually strengthens their relationship and really has the other person take the message to heart. And finally, the E in the Dare acronym is engaged. And its really what Martin was talking about of generating this learning culture, where there’s this back and forth with the organization and with the people that are really the experts of the work itself, which are the workers. 

So really teaching supervisors to create environments to create conversations where people are willing to engage are willing to speak up. And that’s really what this is all about. So yeah, really passionate about helping organizations upskill their supervisors, because as I said at the beginning, this is really where the rubber meets the road. And if we get this piece right, a lot of good can be done. 

I agree. I think you tied everything together. Edward. I think the element of how a supervisor starts interacting create a safe environment, how they’re coaching links to some of the themes that Martin was talking about earlier in terms of creating a learning organization where people want to put in more discretionary effort towards safety, where we’re constantly learning from what could go wrong, which ties us back to Josh was also talking about conversations and really those coaching interactions. And really the element of how do we start looking at things from a just culture standpoint? 

How do we start removing a lot of the risk and the blaming of the employees, but still continuing to do some of the good stuff around behavioral observations, driving better conversations? And then at the front end when I was talking about really the key element around mental health, wellbeing, really bridging that divide between safety and HR, really addressing some of the impacts around stress and fatigue, and then really the active care and self-leadership. All those key pieces, I think, are really the four core mega trends to focus on in 2022. 

So really appreciate all four of you. Joining me today. Eduardo, Martin, and Dr. Josh great conversation. Great topics to explore and wish you a happy New Year! 

Happy and Safe New Year. 

Happy and safe New Year to everybody. 

Happy New Year everyone, I would say Bonne et année!  

Let’s count down together. 10 – 3, 2, 1 

Fireworks, Champagne, and Happy New Year! 

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ABOUT THE GUESTS

Dr. Josh Williams, Martin Royal and Eduardo Lan are Partners with Propulo Consulting, the leading Safety and Operations Strategy Advisory & training firm. Tapping into insights from brain science and psychology, Propulo helps organizations improve their Safety, Operational performance and Culture.

Dr. Josh Williams: For more than 20 years, Josh has partnered with clients around the world to deliver customized, sustainable solutions to improve safety culture and prevent SIFs. Dr. Williams earned his Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology at Virginia Tech and is a behavioral safety, human performance, and safety culture improvement expert. Josh is the author of Keeping People Safe: The Human Dynamics of Injury Prevention and co-editor of Keys to Behavior Based Safety. He has published more than 150 book chapters, government reports, white papers, blogs and articles in leading journals. Josh has also delivered hundreds of presentations at leading national conferences and is a highly regarded public speaker. He received the Cambridge Center National First Prize for his research on behavioral safety feedback.

Martin Royal: Martin is an expert in Human Performance & Business Transformation, coach and facilitator who helps clients create a committed and mobilized workforce to achieve their operational excellence, safety and wellbeing outcomes. Since joining Propulo Consulting in 2011, he has delivered well over 400+ safety culture change workshops and training programs centered on the development of employee empowerment, difficult conversations and leadership skills for global clients in North America and Europe. Martin supports Propulo Consulting’s contractor facilitator workforce and internal consultant team to enable them to deliver exceptional safety engagement training programs. He also supports the development and client-customization of Propulo Consulting’s various leadership and employee training offerings. Over the years, he has been involved in leading safety culture improvement engagements with various clients in industries such as aquaculture, construction, manufacturing, mining, oil and gas, and utilities.

Eduardo Lan: As an accomplished organizational consultant and safety leadership coach, Eduardo has extensive experience in safety culture transformation, leadership development, and high-performance projects and operations across the United States, Europe, Canada and Latin America. With over 20 years of experience in Leadership and Organizational Transformation, Eduardo is truly an expert in Organizational Development and Change, specifically safety culture and leadership. He has designed and led seminars, workshops, coaching sessions, and entire programs on personal and organizational transformation for hundreds of organizations and thousands of people and works with leaders and teams on identifying limiting behaviors that thwart high performance, assisting them in producing breakthrough bottom-line results. He holds a master’s degree in Organization Development and Change from Pennsylvania State University and multiple certifications in consulting, coaching, safety, ontology, MBTI, integral theory, appreciative inquiry, adaptive leadership, and mindfulness. He is a frequent columnist for multiple business and industry publications.

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