ensuring consistent safety leadership behaviours in the workplace fusion safety management

Ensuring Consistent Safety Leadership Behaviours in the Workplace

Safety Leadership – The Urgency to Act

We live in challenging times, which means, we cannot continue doing the same things and expect great results. Successful adaption requires innovative, fresh approaches to workplace safety and the key is leadership at all levels. 

Some of the challenges we face are ever-increasing diversity within the workforce, and decreasing availability of experienced manpower (skilled and un-skilled) in many geographical locations. The Covid 19 pandemic has also disrupted workplaces, restricting people’s movement and making it difficult for workplace oversight.  

In combination, these factors have resulted in a fundamental shift in workforce stability towards a relatively unstable workforce dynamic, characterised by high levels of diversity and turnover which makes it extremely difficult to ensure everyone shares common safety values and demonstrates consistent safety behaviours. Right now, the platforms on which traditional safety cultures are built (uniformity and stability with little turnover) are burning – and they are in danger of collapse. While organisational structures, systems, and competencies are all still very relevant, we urgently need consistent leadership behaviour, at all levels in a workplace, that works constantly to align safety values and coach consistent safety behaviours. Establishing such leadership throughout a workforce is today’s ultimate safety challenge. And if done well, it will determine success for organisations that want to achieve Zero Harm through a generative workforce culture. 

The Misaligned Role Model:

Without a clear strategy to ensure aligned safety values and behaviours at all levels in the workplace, informal workplace role models will emerge. These role models influence people, forming subcultures and focussing on what they think is important based on their previous experiences, values, and individual risk tolerance. However, often this can be out of step with the values of the company they are working with. Left unchecked, this is dangerous, as bad habits from these role models can and will cascade deep into the organisation, creating confusion, increasing conflict, reducing communication, and ultimately increasing risk in the workplace. Without a clear strategy to adapt and develop effective safety leadership at all levels throughout an organisation, high-risk work practices and habits may establish themselves as the norm. 

Fostering Leadership at all Levels:

Recent advances in technology have allowed us to collect, analyse and interpret data that will assist in predicting and identifying unsafe work practices. This will take us some way towards our goal, but no amount of technology will ever account for the fact that our workforce is made up of human beings who are required to make critical judgements and decisions constantly, and this has a major bearing on workplace safety outcomes. 

With this in mind, the greatest leverage to achieving the creation of Zero Harm workplaces is through a specific type of leadership in the workplace – a type of leadership that sees everyone, irrespective of their role, contributing to the leadership of workplace safety. This is defined as a ”Generative workforce culture” by Professor Patrick Hudson in his Cultural Maturity Model. (See below).

Achieving Hudson’s Generative level of safety culture results in everyone making better-informed decisions leading to safer workplaces. The key to creating a Generative Safety Culture in any workplace is ensuring that trust and psychological safety are present throughout the workplace. To achieve trust and phycological safety, leadership behaviours must be very clear and consistent throughout all levels.

It Starts with Senior Leadership: 

The first step is to ensure Senior Leaders have very clear workplace safety goals which are aligned with the values of the organisation. These goals must be translated into a clear and compelling story to inspire others throughout the organization. The safety story at a workplace” must be practised and refined by all senior leaders to ensure consistency of the message across the organisation.

The next step is to walk the talk through the consistency of leadership behaviours. This is the key, and where the C.O.D.E comes into play.

The C.O.D.E stands for:

     Courage to act

     Own the challenge

     Demonstrate passion

     Engage respectfully. 

Senior Leaders are the ultimate role models, and their behaviours must reflect the compelling safety story through their enactment of the C.O.D.E. The behaviours of Senior Leaders in any organisation will make or break the culture.

Note:  If your organisation is having trouble developing its Compelling Safety Story, Fusion can help through our Occular Approach

Leadership at all levels:

Remember that the ultimate aim is to ensure trust and psychological safety through consistency in leadership behaviour throughout an organisation – behaviours that reflect the C.O.D.E. Arguably, this is the most critical part of creating a generative workforce culture, however, this is where many organisations fall short. There is often a disconnect between senior leadership intent and other levels of leadership in the organisation.

To ensure leadership competency throughout the organisation, we have created the Hero Code Project. The focus of the Hero Code Project is first on building trust and psychological safety through aligning values, establishing rapport, and creating shared goals. This is then applied to the organisation-wide use of a common set of proven and practical tactics that reinforce these leadership behaviours. The Hero Code Project is a strategy to establish all these critical aspects at all levels of leadership, with the ultimate outcome being the creation of generative workplace cultures.

If ensuring consistent safety leadership behaviours in the workplace is important to you and your organisation, why don’t you contact us for a free, no-obligation discussion about how the Hero Code Program might boost your organisation’s leadership culture? 

You could also book a 15-minute discovery call to talk to us or visit our website to learn more about how we can assist your organisation.

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