Get Your Spectators on the Field: Tips for Improving Safety Culture

Get Your "Spectators" On the Field: Tips for Improving Safety Culture | Call to Action!The Energy Investment Model is a way of looking at the attitudes of people facing planned change, such as improving safety culture, and how much energy they will invest in that attitude. This can be a very handy tool when planning stakeholder management, as part of an overall change management plan. Each of us can vary in our view of change based on a number of variables, so this is not about labeling or stereotyping people, but basically looking at stakeholders’ preferences, and then planning how best to move them in the direction of the Player’s box. 

Leveraging “Spectators” | Improving Safety Culture

energy investment model for safety culture change“Spectators” are those with a positive attitude (they say the right things) but little energy connected with their attitudes. I’m not talking about prudent risk takers, who examine the pros and cons of a situation before committing, that’s more of a Player’s attitude, defaulting toward a positive outlook and a willingness to participate. No, these folk suit up, but never get their uniforms dirty. They stay on the sidelines.

As managers, Spectators are apt to say things such as “Let me get back to you–and then they don’t.  Or, “Why don’t you write that up for me and I’ll get you my feedback.”  And they won’t.  They say they’re in favor of enhancing the safety culture, but they don’t attend the training sessions or other culture pulse meetings, and they find it hard to release anyone else to represent them.  50 things you must know about safety leadership

Spectators are some of the most insidious characters in organizations.  They sap motivation and innovation. They seem to be engaged–they’ll put up the posters and wear the T-Shirts, but they will not step up and get in the action.  Instead, they wait and see which way the wind is blowing and what the safe thing to do will be.  Their departments are places where ideas go to die; and they are a big cause of the “Walking Dead” and the “Well-Poisoners.”

Spectators must be challenged.  If you can get them in motion and they start seeing results, they are likely to jump on board.  But they must be challenged.  If they say, “I’ll get back to you,” the response should be: “Fine, will Tuesday at 8 work, or will Wednesday at 3 be better?”  If they ask for something to “read over,” say something like, “Fine, I’ll stop by with it tomorrow and we can go over it together.” Having a training event to launch your initiative?  Schedule a role for them and copy their boss on the agenda.  Highlight the results that a “Player” peer is getting with the change, and develop ways that the “Spectator” can get the same or similar results.

fctc-online-bannerIn other words, get him out of the stands, onto the field, and in the game!  In the next article, we’ll address the cynics–what we call the “Well-Poisoners.”  Stay tuned!

~Gene Drumm


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Gene Drumm

Gene Drumm is on staff with safetyBUILT-IN and contributes to the Recordable INSIGHTS Newsletter.Gene is a recognized expert on organizational culture and performance, change management, leadership, and creating values-driven corporate cultures.Over the past 20 years he has executed culture-change projects across industries on six different continents.He has also held senior staff and line positions at Microsoft, Fujitsu America and Newmont Mining Company which were focused on implementing and sustaining strategic change.His area of specialty is resolving "culture clash" and safety-leadership culture development.

Comments

  1. Fabien Tiburce says:

    Gene is right on. Spectators have no skin in the safety/security game. One way to change this predicament (my suggestion is a kind of implementation of one of Gene’s suggestions) is to actually assign issues/tasks to them. You said you’d do X? I assigned this task/item to you from the last inspection so now you have an opportunity to do X and provide closure to X. Doing this gives the organization the means to bring closure to issues and to turn deficiencies into actionable items.

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