Sharing safety appreciation

October 1, 2005 By    

This past summer I had the opportunity to sit in on the Minnesota Propane Gas Association summer convention.

 Jay Johnston
Jay Johnston

I was there to participate in the tort reform discussion, but took the time to attend a motivational seminar. I’m not too old to learn new tricks and, as a rule, I never stop learning.

Part of the seminar was about impressions and we broke into groups of six. One person in the group would stand up and the others would write a few words to describe that person. I was in a group of men who looked familiar, yet, I really didn’t know them well. My comments were about clothes or appearance.

Imagine my surprise when my five responses came back: smooth, looks trim, leader, knowledgeable, expert in industry. Now, I’m bald and have lost some weight, but those last three were clearly positive affirmations from peers who might have read my stuff or heard me speak. Thanks guys, I owe you each a cold one.

When I became an insurance consultant and safety coach, I set goals on how to make a difference with regard to safety, customer communications and insurance process management. I knew what I wanted to share; yet it’s difficult to measure results.

A few months ago Tim Hendricks of Capit0l Propane had the courage and sense of safety leadership to write about my article on “Full plates lead to Stop and Go Safety.” That made my day.

But life doesn’t always recognize our efforts. Positive feedback can be illusive.

You’d be surprised at how little feedback I receive on articles designed to challenge opinions. Every month I stick my neck out on issues that may be controversial — mostly to silence. Silence, I might add, is better than tomatoes.

Our seminar speaker makes a good point with his exercise of sharing what we think of others. Such communication can be powerful and productive.

For example, how often, as leaders, do we catch people doing something right?

Sure we are great at pointing out faults, failings and forgetfulness, but how are we, as leaders, at affirming actions that are productive? While we inspect what we expect, it’s a great time to praise success.

Another example would be, how often do we share important safety information and thank our customers for being safe at the same time?

Below are a few thoughts about safety communication that I think might improve your safety success, save money and secure the bottom line:

  • Catch someone doing something right and praise him or her for it.
  • Share positive opinions and affirmations during your next safety meeting.
  • Inspect what you expect with customers. Recognize and reward them for safety compliance and cooperation with regard to inspections such as leak checks, gas system checks and staying full. A nice note thanking them for their help will be remembered.

Anyway, the whole thing or idea I learned from that presentation was that we all depend upon clear and accurate communication. It’s why things either get done or they don’t. It’s why people feel appreciated or they don’t. It’s why, in many ways, we do the right thing or we don’t. We all need affirmation.

With cold weather just around the corner, catch someone doing something right, be generous with your encouragement and share your appreciation.

It’s the safety way.

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