“No One Disagrees With His Own Ideas”: Turning Employees into Owners in Safety Culture Development

“No One Disagrees With His Own Ideas”: Turning Employees into Owners in Safety Culture DevelopmentThe problem with much of what passes for safety culture development these days is the “mandate” feel it carries with it. People are essentially coerced into whatever change is being made. Certainly there has to be a mandate if change is going to happen, and that mandate has to be driven by leadership. But the way it is driven matters. If my approach to safety culture development is primarily coercive, I may very well get people to comply, but that’s not the same as getting them on board. It can result in a fear-based compliance, and that’s never a good foundation for building a sustainable safety culture. [content_protector password=”coach-owners” identifier=”coach-owners”]

If I want them fully on board, then I have to be persuasive, not coercive. More specifically, I have to persuade them to become owners of the organization’s safety culture development, and that implies I have to hand them ownership.

The good news is, most employees will respond positively to your efforts in providing them opportunities for ownership. Employees who have a voice in what the safety culture looks like feel more like owners than employees, and as a result begin to drive the safety culture at their own level and in their own space.

Just remember this guiding maxim: “No one disagrees with his own ideas.” If the look and feel of the safety culture is solely the idea of top management, employees will never embrace it as owners:

“That’s their idea and they’re just telling me what they want me to do.”

If instead, top management distributes ownership of that culture by giving employees opportunities to shape it and lead it in their own ways, that creates a very different scenario–they’ll embrace and act on their own ideas!

fctc-online-bannerSo, when doing safety culture development, start with a vision that works, but allow your employees to have a voice in the way that vision is executed. That’s it for this edition of Recordable INSIGHTS. Until next time.

~ES [/content_protector] 

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.