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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About the Author

safetyBUILT-IN is the safety-leadership learning and development division of SCInc. We believe sustainable safety performance is best achieved through a core-values based safety culture, and that culture must be driven by leadership. Our safety-leadership programs are competency-based, and focused on performance outcomes. We believe in building capability and ownership into our client organizations—as well as sustainability into our programs—so that our clients can continue running those programs long after we’re out of the picture. Our emphasis is on building better leadership presence, better leadership communication and better leadership coaching by first building relationships of trust with people and learning how to engage them on the level of their core values and beliefs.