Safety Leadership Walkthroughs: Causes of Missed Opportunities (Part 2)

safety-leadership walkthrough questionsThe way to engage employees on the floor or in the field is to ask questions.  The problem is, the types of questions we ask tend to invite the responses they think we want to hear.  This represents still another missed opportunity that makes our safety leadership walkthroughs not quite as effective as they could otherwise be. [content_protector password=”missed-05″ identifier=”missed-05″]

Take a look at the differences between two questions that on the surface seem very similar:

“Are we taking adequate precautions with this operation?”


“What are we doing to ensure safe operations with this procedure?”

Notice that the first question invites a limited response.  And the default response is usually going to be a simple “yes.”  But notice as well the question as stated also invites the response they think we’re looking for.  Rarely will they respond to this type of question with a “no” response.

The alternative question avoids both those problems by asking the same question in a way that invites elaboration: “What are we doing to ensure safe operations with this procedure?” engages the employee, gets them dialoguing about the task at hand, and allows you to gather intelligence about what’s really going on.

So use open-ended questions in your safety leadership engagements to make the information you finally get much more meaningful.  We’ll look at a few more examples of the types of questions to ask and the types of questions to avoid next issue. But that’s all the time we have for this edition of Recordable INSIGHTS.  See you next time.



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.