Inside-Out Safety

Inside-Out Safety

Now for something a little different…

A few weeks ago I put out some feelers on social asking if anyone would want to contribute some stories of their own for Relentless Safety. The response was crazy. I’m still going through emails and trying to find places where these pieces will fit and get maximum exposure. Because they’re great.

The following is from Dr. Sylvia Lee. Dr. Lee provides management consulting services in strengths-based leadership and organizations, organizational design and development, and general leadership development.  Her program, PowerUp Leadership supports leaders in becoming strengths-based.

Safety from the inside out:

Safety isn’t just about you.

A few years ago, the concept of the triple bottom line commanded considerable attention.  The idea is that business leaders pay attention to not only their fiscal bottom line, but also their social and environmental bottom lines as well. That is, leaders focus attention on their corporate social responsibility (CSR) for the impact of company operations on the environment and on society and actively measure such impact.

COVID has made CSR more than good business sense.  It’s made CSR essential for business success, maybe even survival – a concept that no business leader can ignore.  It doesn’t matter if your business is small or large, public sector, private sector, or not-for-profit sector.  It doesn’t matter what goods and services you sell.  It doesn’t matter where in the world you are.  If you’re a leader, it’s up to you to provide CSR leadership.  Safety is embedded deep into customer requirements for being your customers. 

When you, as a leader, pay attention to safety from the inside out – the safety of your customers and community – your bottom line improves.  A few years ago, a consulting gig demonstrated that completely, even though the consultation had nothing to do with safety.

The CEO of a flame-retardant clothing manufacturer called me.  His executive team were fighting with each other.  Marketing thought they were the driver of business; Operations thought they were.  Business was suffering.  Could I help?  “Be as obstreperous as you like,” the CEO said, “just get them to work together.”  Well, you can’t turn down a consulting gig like that!

I met with the executive team – the CEO was right – no co-operation, no collaboration, no communication.  I asked them what the purpose of the company was.  Not the mission or the vision, but the reason for being.  The stared at me.  I pointed to the mission statement on the wall of the meeting room.  “To Be Number One”.  What does that mean, I asked?  Number one in what – sales, profits, market penetration?  And who says so – you, your customers, the Better Business Bureau? 

Team members couldn’t answer.  So, we moved on to other things, with that purpose question always at the forefront.  On the third day, one of the executive thumped on the table and said, “I’ve got it!  Our purpose is to save lives!”  They all looked at each other with surprise in their eyes, and then recognition of truth.  The discussion turned to how such a purpose translated into operations, into marketing, into sales, into everything.  With a common purpose in mind, the team members could create ways to work together, rather than trying to beat the “other side”. 

So where does safety come into this?  Well, a few weeks later, after I’d completed my work with the executive team, I ran into the CEO on the street.  “You know what was really great?” he said.  “My team started to focus on performance.”

He told me how their operations people were able to talk with the workers sewing the garments.  Instead of their past practice of rejecting sub-quality sewing, they could now say, “See this seam?” pointing to one that wasn’t sewn perfectly.  “That seam could kill someone.  It could cause terrible burns to someone.”  Now the front-line workers were paying attention to the new purpose statement for the company.  They began to pay more attention to their work, feeling proud that they were contributing to the safety of their customers, rather than frustrated that their work was rejected by their supervisors.  Their work became more meaningful, because the people who wore the clothes they made were relying on them to make clothes without flaws.  The safety of their customers became paramount. 

Performance improved, employee engagement improved.  Operations improved. Marketing started to promote their employees in marketing materials, featuring individuals sharing their pride in their work.  The CEO was sure sales would increase, employee morale would improve, and the financial bottom line would grow.  All because of a focus on safety from the inside out.

Let’s let it out.

Thank you Dr. Lee

If you have an interesting, fun, funny, sad, or otherwise engaging safety story, send it to me at Jason@relentlesssafety.com. Let’s all learn from each other!

If you’re new to this blog, let me introduce myself. My name is Jason. I’m a safety professional, podcast host, author, and world-renowned origami artist (that’s a lie). If you’re NOT new to this blog, go buy my book… it’s like this but multiplied by the power of unicorn tears. In any case, I hope you enjoy the content here. Please like, share, and join in the discussion as we all pursue Relentless Safety.

DON’T MISS THE LATEST EPISODE OF SJL!

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Inigo Montoya: Safety Philosopher

Time for some real talk…

I sat in my bosses office that morning for my regularly scheduled weekly one-on-one. It was a big day. I had just spent the prior month writing, editing and designing a three hour leadership (not safety leadership, CLICK HERE TO SEE WHY) and was about to deliver it to him.

Which I did.

Then came the feedback.

“Jason, you’re a really great big idea guy,” he began. It was familiar territory. “But I really need to to work on follow through. An idea is only 2% of the work…” I’d heard it all before.

Now don’t get me wrong. He wasn’t completely off base. I’m big enough to admit that. But the irony (in a real sense, not the Alanis Morissette kind) of being told that after just delivering a completed project was kind of mind boggling in that moment.

That got me thinking

And listening.

The message didn’t line up with what was actually happening, so I decided to start listening to my boss a little more carefully. It was an experiment that I postulated only had two likely outcomes. I would either learn more about his style and grow to respect him or I would not. The result was the latter.

What I began to notice were his undertones. There was always something else in his message beside the message. For example, when a leader genuinely thanks workers for all their sweat and sacrifice in order to acknowledge that times are stressful, one does not need to end that thought with “but we have a business to run.”

Or justifying the decision to drug screen an employee for an incident by stating “well probably half of them are on drugs anyway.”

One of my favorites was “I don’t mind you doing all this writing stuff, but I don’t want you talking about anything at work.” That one made me giggle.

There were more examples of course, but I’ll leave it at that. The guy’s greed and slanted view of the people who worked for him was just gross. It doesn’t warrant the publicity.

Safety does it too

Think about your words next time there’s a “safety event.” Do you really care if someone’s in pain or are you just mad because of the extra work they just caused you? Are you interested in finding out what happened or is the employee just stupid enough to have let Darwin win? What about all those times that a leader really cares about safety by telling people that their incentive is being taken away because of a “bad” injury rate.

The long and short of it is that your intentions will always betray your words if the two aren’t aligned. Come to think of it, maybe that’s how they came up with the idea that actions speak louder.

We can always do better. Who’s with me?

If you’re new to this blog, let me introduce myself. My name is Jason. I’m a safety professional, podcast host, author, and world-renowned origami artist (that’s a lie). If you’re NOT new to this blog, go buy my book… it’s like this but multiplied by the power of unicorn tears. In any case, I hope you enjoy the content here. Please like, share, and join in the discussion as we all pursue Relentless Safety.

DON’T MISS THE LATEST SJL PODCAST!

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My Wife Tried To Murder Me… With MURDER Scrub!

Coconut oil scrub to be exact, but first things first…

I’m a magnet for strange. Anyone who’s read many of my stories or my book knows that. In particular, I find that more strange things happen to me in public bathrooms than most. Take that as you will.

As proof, I could offer up THIS STORY about that one time I had to break into my house from a bathroom window. Or THIS ONE about a time when I saved a bee’s life in the most unexpected of ways.

I could even tell you about a time very recently when I visited a restroom and was interrupted by the patron in the stall next to me. Ordinarily I can get in “the zone” when I have business to attend to, but this interruption was legendary. Few sounds are as alarming to hear in a throne room than those of deep, guttural… snoring.

As you can see, I speak from a high level of authority when it comes to weird stuff (and bathrooms). Even if those stories don’t make my case, I’ve got more.

Let’s dig into my wife’s nefarious plot to bring about my demise

Let me start by saying, I love my wife. She is spectacular.

BUT…

If I end up dead/murdered (even though it would be the direct result of my antics) no one should ever consider it a mystery. I preemptively confess that my relentless pursuit (see what I did there?) of bigger, better, and funnier drove an otherwise rational and kind woman to rid the world of my idiocy.

And it’s not like she hasn’t come close before.

I swear it wasn’t me!

As it happens, she’s almost succeeded… accidentally. God help me if she ever tries.

At one point before the spawns were born (see HERE or HERE for more info) she was quite the crafter.

At that point in our marriage I had no reason to suspect any ill intent. We were still newly-wed-enough to believe married people like each other. Anyhoo…, when she proclaimed one day that she was going to start making sugar scrubs I told her she had my full support. They sounded delicious (I was wrong about that…). But they smelled nice and really do help with exfoliation.

Then I took a shower!

There was no Norman Bates in this story. The plot was much more simple. As it turns out, sugar scrub is MOSTLY made of coconut oil, not sugar!

Following her first foray into this new project, my wife had indulged in the exfoliating and moisturizing experience that is F@#$%&! sugar scrub for an undetermined amount of time. Once fully moistfoliated, she exited the shower and let me know it was my turn.

I don’t remember much after that except that I learned three things that day:

  1. Coconut oil is slippery as fuck!
  2. I can perform the splits.
  3. My wife is going to live much longer than me.

She totally wasn’t trying to kill me though. I think

Here’s where it gets… uh… slippery

If I replaced a few elements from that story with a few from your work environment, would your judgement of the circumstances change as well?

Let’s try:

  • My wife = trades-person (employee)
  • Sugar scrub in the shower = unapproved process (violation)
  • Me = “Safety Guy”

Now the story reads: “An employee was observed violating plant safety policy 2097.00987879.00887790880.xxv2 when she used an unapproved chemical to clean equipment. This resulted in a very serious near miss when the Safety Guy slipped in residual chemical. Disciplinary action is recommended.”

Maybe that’s a little far fetched… Maybe not.

What do you think?

If you’re new to this blog, let me introduce myself. My name is Jason. I’m a safety professional, podcast host, author, and world-renowned origami artist (that’s a lie). If you’re NOT new to this blog, go buy my book… it’s like this but multiplied by the power of unicorn tears. In any case, I hope you enjoy the content here. Please like, share, and join in the discussion as we all pursue Relentless Safety.

Please follow and share Relentlessly:
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