Inspiring Safety Measurement: Transforming Goals and Culture
Updated: Jul 18
Safety measurement is a critical aspect of fostering a safe work environment, but it often fails to inspire excitement. Why is such an important topic perceived as boring and fear-inducing? The key lies in how goals are defined and communicated. To ignite passion and enthusiasm for safety, organizations must rethink their approach to measurement and create a culture focused on achievement rather than avoidance. In this article, we'll explore six thought-provoking questions that can transform your measurement systems and inspire a positive shift in safety culture.
Question 1: How are your goals stated?
Many organizations, even high-performing ones, mistakenly state their safety goals in a negative manner. Goals should be positively defined to inspire excitement and engagement. Instead of focusing on reducing injuries or incidents, goals should emphasize achieving specific safety milestones and cultivating a robust safety system. By reframing goals in a positive light, organizations can create a culture that strives for excellence rather than merely avoiding failure.
Question 2: Do you want to fail less or achieve success?
Safety management systems should not be designed with the expectation of incidents or failures. Goals should focus on what employees need to accomplish rather than what they should avoid. By setting goals that highlight desired behaviors and outcomes, organizations foster a culture of achievement, encouraging individuals to contribute their best efforts to the collective goal of safety excellence.
Question 3: What is your communication focus?
Consider the balance between discussing what you don't want versus what you do want. Many safety meetings tend to dwell on negative aspects, such as incidents or near misses, without adequately emphasizing the positive behaviors that prevent accidents. Shift the narrative by devoting equal time to discussing what prevented an incident from occurring, celebrating the proactive efforts that contribute to a safe work environment.
Question 4: Can you measure performance and results?
While autonomy is important, there should be a clear focus on measuring and improving safety performance to achieve excellent results. Organizations must establish a strong correlation between performance and outcomes. Without this link, there is a risk of repeating success year after year without truly understanding the contributing factors. By identifying and measuring key performance indicators, organizations can create a sense of comfort and confidence in their ability to replicate positive results.
Question 5: Results or performance: What do you emphasize?
Measuring and managing results is crucial, but it's equally important to highlight the performance required to achieve those results. When organizations solely focus on outcomes, individuals may resort to manipulation to achieve desired numbers. Results should be discussed, but equal emphasis should be placed on the behaviors, processes, and practices necessary to reach those outcomes. By doing so, organizations promote a culture of transparency, accountability, and continuous improvement.
Question 6: Do you involve employees in the measurement system?
To foster excitement about safety measurement, involve employees in the process. Seek their input on what, how, when, where, and why you measure certain aspects of safety. By including their perspectives and allowing them to contribute to the development of measurement systems, you build trust, engagement, and a shared understanding of the value of measurement. Employees will see how it directly benefits them both personally and professionally, creating a sense of ownership and commitment.
To transform safety measurement from a dull and fear-inducing exercise into an inspiring and impactful endeavor, organizations must redefine their goals, shift the focus to achievement, and involve employees in the process. By positively framing goals, emphasizing desired outcomes, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement, organizations can ignite enthusiasm and drive lasting change. Remember, enhancing safety performance and results requires internal conversations, collaborative efforts, and a commitment to evolving measurement systems. Let's break free from the cycle of uninspiring measurement and embrace a culture that celebrates safety excellence.