A Return to Core Values

Every once in a while we receive enough requests for a past vlog article to justify pulling it out of storage, dusting it off, and featuring it as the Recordable Insight of the week.  One vlog article in particular has received its fair share of attention of late.  We are now midway through our series on how to build better engagement for better safety ownership and how to manage the ABCs of safety leadership, and will return to that series next week.  For now, please bear with us as we re-present our introductory vlog article on the importance of holding safety as a a core value

What do you value most in life?  The answer to this question is surprisingly predictable; so predictable, in fact, that we’ve built it into our From Compliance to Culture safety-leadership program and made it the guiding principal (or “theme,” if you will) for everything else we do in that program—whether leadership, or communication, or coaching.  We even include the question as part of the pre-work assignment we send out to participants of our safety-leadership workshop, and it’s one of the first things we explore on Day 1 of the workshop.  The question is, in essence, our starting point for establishing awareness of what a safety culture is all about.

The consistent response we get to the question, “What do you value most in life” is “my family,” “my wife,” “my husband,” “my kids,” “my grand kids,” “my friends,” “my church family”—in a word, my relationships with those I love.  It’s interesting to watch as one by one the participants of our workshops reveal they hold the same core value as everyone else in the workshop.

It’s a powerful revelation to the participants when they realize that all the other participants hold the same core value.  And it’s even more powerful once they realize that the people who report to them on the job hold those same core values, and that they can now appeal to that core value as the very foundation of their safety communication.  Suddenly, their job in leading a safety culture just got a lot easier, and their safety communication and safety message got a lot more substantial.  To communicate safety, to lead safety, and to coach safety is a matter of aligning safety as a core value to the other core values they already hold.

Our normal style of appealing to personal safety is ineffective when dealing with the worker who is young and is therefore convinced he is invincible and immortal.  But if instead we appeal to his core values—his family, his wife, his kids—as the primary motivation for working safely, that’s a different message entirely.

Once the core value is understood and firmly in place, we can build on that in our leadership, in our communication, in our safety engagements, in our coaching, and in our corrective actions.  We’ll look at each one of these in detail as we move through this series.

In the meantime, please enjoy the associate introductory video on our safetyBUILT-IN Vlog. And be sure all your safety is built-in, not bolted-on.


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About the Author

Eric Svendsen
Eric Svendsen, Ph.D., is Principal and lead change agent for safetyBUILT-IN, a safety-leadership learning and development organization. He has over 20 years experience in creating and executing outcomes-based leadership development and culture change initiatives aligned to organizational goals, and he personally led the safety-culture initiatives of a number of client organizations that resulted in “best ever safety performance” years for those companies.