How are employees in your organization promoted to supervisory and/or other leadership positions? Or, more to the point, on what basis are they promoted?
Chances are the overarching criteria for promotion is how they have performed on the job thus far. Those at the top of their game tend to be considered for that promotion before others in a similar role. In short, if they can run the entire plant by themselves, they’re a shoo-in! [content_protector password=”yscp” identifier=”yscp”]
Supervisor or Super-Operator?
We all do it – and it’s not confined to a single industry. Those who are considered first in line for the position of supervisor are almost invariable our “super operators.” The question is, What impact does that practice have on a safety culture? There is, of course, a difference in skill-sets between super-operator and super-visor. Being a super-operator may very well be how they got the job; but it isn’t how you want them to do the job – especially in their role of leading a safety culture.
Changing the Game
When the sole criteria for promotion is the technical performance of the job, the importance of the safety culture can be easily lost on those seeking such a promotion. Employees will do what is necessary to get the reward. If the reward is based on technical ability, that’s where their focus will be. And in the process, everything else will be placed in the background.
Countering that mindset requires a different criteria for the “reward” (in this case, the promotion). If employees know upfront that being eligible for a promotion requires active engagement in the safety culture, then that is what they will focus on.
It’s always ideal to build this into the existing HR systems like annual performance reviews, merit increase, promotions and succession planning. By creating the expectation that these systems are now tied to leading a safety culture, employees will begin viewing it as part of the job.
Hence, in addition to building their technical abilities to do the job, employees will being focusing on ways to lead the culture, whether that is leading safety communication (toolbox talks and other safety meetings), performing safety walk-throughs and safety observations, serving on a safety committee, conducting safety training, mentoring and/or overseeing contractor crews, or some other safety-culture activity.
Communicate that safety culture is part of the job, and make it a criteria for rewards, and they will adopt it as part of the job. That’s it for this edition of Recordable INSIGHTS. Until next time.