Safety Leadership Walkthroughs: Causes of Missed Opportunities (Part 3)

Safety Leadership Walkthrough Questions“Everything going okay here?”  “Things going as planned?”  “Not having any problems, are we?”  Can you guess what all these questions have in common?  Well, if you guessed that all of them are examples of closed-ended questions, you’d be right, but only half right. [content_protector password=”missed-06″ identifier=”missed-06″]

They are also examples of “leading” questions.  A “leading” question is a question that prompts, encourages or invites the desired response.  Let’s take a look at them again one at a time:

“Everything going okay here?”

This question implies the answer they think you want to hear, which in turn will discourage them from bringing up their concerns if something isn’t going okay.

The next question suffers from a similar problem:

“Things going as planned?”

The tacit message you’re communicating with this question is “I want things to go as planned.  And if they’re not, I’ll be disappointed.”

Finally, the last question:

“Not having any problems, are we?”

This question suggests that the last thing you want to hear is they they’re having problems.

All of these questions are conversation stoppers.  They preempt meaningful dialogue about concerns over safe practices, procedures and processes.  And because of that they’re out of place in a safety leadership walkthrough.

Instead, we ought to be asking open-ended questions.  Questions like:

“Walk me through what you’re doing with this”

“Tell me how you are monitoring and controlling the hazards?”

These kinds of questions promote discussion, verify competencies, and invite their concerns all at the same time.  And because of that, these are the types of questions we should be asking in our walkthroughs.

That’s it 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.