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This morning I had a wonderful opportunity to talk to Carmen Taylor about three tips to improve your workplace communication.
Enjoy this short interview to help you take your communication skills to the next level.
The other day I was talking to a client who just happens to be a health and safety practitioner. He was telling me all the reasons why he could never be a salesperson.
In fact, I'm pretty sure his story about a lying salesperson that he once worked with was from the 1970's. And I'm doubly sure this guy was wearing a brown suit with a big wide, garishly patterned tie. I could just see it.
So I mentioned to my safety client that every person has to sell in their job - salesperson or not.
He kind of confessed he knew this to be true, but the stereotype of the lying salesperson in the brown suit (okay, I added that bit) was just too strong in his mind. He really didn't want to be the dodgy car salesman type that manipulates and lies all in the name of making a sale. Ironically, he kept trying to sell to me the reasons why he could never be a salesman.
Yet, the big truth is that if you want to be successful at safety, you can't hide behind your desk reading your compliance notes and shyly handing out pieces of paper explaining company safety processes to anyone who walks past.
If you want to get people on board, you have to sell why safety processes and compliance are important to the individual. Why it should matter to them. You also need to sell safety to senior management, so that you get the right amount of budget for company safety programs.
As Brian Tracy, a motivational coach and author says, "From the time you get up in the morning until the time you go to bed at night, you are continually negotiating, communicating, persuading, influencing and trying to get people to cooperate with you to do the things that you want them to do."
If you've got kids, you just know about much wheeling and dealing you have to do every night just to get them into bed or do their homework. That, my friend, is selling.
The Changing Role of the Safety Professional
You all know that the role of the safety professional is collecting hazard and associated risk data, analysing it and determining corrective action. Then, developing and maintaining the safety management system, while creating safety documents and training materials to educate others to keep safe.
Yet, the traditional role of the safety professionial is no longer enough. We're moving away from left-brain centric jobs to more right-brain focused empathetic, innovative and expressive capabilities. This means new right-brain skills are required.
In the near future, safety leaders will just be expected to undertake left-brained tasks such as understanding safety regulations and undertaking both risk assessments and safety reports. These skills in themselves won't hold much weight. Yet, the key to surviving in the new world, is being able to merge both left and right brain skills.
In this new age, being able to do tasks that a computer cannot will help you move ahead of the game. This means being able to synthesise diverse information and re-package it, so that people can understand it. It means being able to connect with others, collaborate on projects and influence your co-workers to meet safety goals. The key role of the safety professional will be to positively spread safety-related activities throughout the organisation, in order to create a healthy safety culture.
This means having the linear thinking required to create a new safety stategy - the goals required, the actions and the end result. Together, with the right brained skills to enable others to connect to the safety vision and work towards it.
In other words, being able to sell the importance of safety, so that you get everyone aligned with the company safety goals. Essentially, that means learning how to sell safety, but in a way that is collaborative and engaging.
Safety professionals need to improve how they communicate with their workforce that enables their message to resonate. This means learning how to be a story-teller, so that the safety professional can connect and communicate ideas and concepts. Likewise, being a safety leader means having the skills to network with everyone throughout the organisation, in order to quickly transmit ideas and get buy-in.
This doesn't mean you have to wear a brown suit and sell snake oil. It means influencing others, to keep them safe, so they arrive home in one piece to their family.
I don't know about you, but selling, sounds really good to me.
Over the last couple of weeks, I've been talking to lots of safety professionals around the world about what they are trying to achieve. You know, their vision, their goals and their challenges.
To give you some background, these aren't ordinary safety leaders. They have all put their hand up to say they want to improve their safety communication skills and need help.
This is a key point because not all leaders have the ability to even admit that they need support. That things aren't working. And we've all experienced working with a leader that was arrogant and refused to admit that anything was wrong. These leaders often bring a company to its knees.
But some of these safety professionals really need help! Their issues all follow a similiar theme:
- A workforce resistant to caring about safety (both large and small)
- Safety communication that barely gets glanced at
- A leadership team that only gives safety a token moment in the spotlight
- Employees that struggle to see why safety is important.
- Recurring injuries and soaring insurance costs.
These issues aren't new to me. I hear them all the time and work with companies to address them. But what I find curious is how committed people are to making a change.
It's one thing to say you need help, but it's a totally different ball game to actually admit that you need help and commit to change.
Commitment is such a wonderful thing. Real leadership is about being 100% committed to working to achieve your vision and doing it to help more people. It's not about how you look and what results you get (because initially your results might get worse before they get better, it's about long term results, not short term), but it's about how driven you are to making a difference. Sticking to the course, when things get tough (and they always do!).
It's the committed safety leaders who are the true "movers and shakers", who will do anything to get positive change occurring. They avoid lip service, instead they advocate taking real action.
5 Signs of Safety Leaders who are Committed to Safety
Here are the five signs of those who are determined to keep their workplace safe.
1. Keep appointments - Change can be a frightening thing. But committed safety leaders feel the fear and do it anyway. They make apppointments with others and they keep them. When you go back on your commitments, you're training yourself not to trust yourself. Only make commitments you can keep. You're only as good as your word. You will never get your workforce to trust you, if you're word is unpredictable.
2. Ignore the excuses in their head - It's easy to find reasons why we can't do things when we know we need to do them. But that's a victim mentality and victims never make it to true leadership status. Everything is about them. Committed safety leaders ignore the excuses in their head and keep moving.
3. Take action - One of the interesting things about life is that often the issues about ourselves that we don't like, we can see in other people. And often, the things we really dislike about other people are the things we want to change within ourselves (but we're not aware of them enough). What has been clear is that often a lot of safety leaders will complain to me about no-one taking any action on safety and how hard it is for them to inspire action. Interestingly, all of these people didn't want to take any action for change either. They were more inspired to complain about what was happening than do anything about it. And guess what? Just complaining about no-one changing, is just the same as being the person not changing.
4. Being responsible - If you're the safety leader, then the buck stops with you. If you're not getting the results you want, then keep changing things until you improve results. It's easy to blame others, but if your safety communication isn't being read, well, it's your responsiblity to do what you can to ensure it gets read.
5. Being curious - So people didn't listen to the last monthly theme. That's interesting. What's changed? How can you learn from it? Rather than decide that your employees are idiots, try and be impartial and learn from it. What's really going on? Committed safety leaders look at things from a curiousity perspective, rather than instant blame. If you start attaching stories to things, you'll lose the true meaning.
The best leaders, and safety leaders, are responsible and stand in their commitment. They are true to their word. Their high commitment levels enable them to weather the inevitable ups and downs of business.
So what's your commitment level or are you just paying lip service to safety?
Image Credit: Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
As a safety professional, you have to wear more hats than the average expert.
As a basic starting point, you know that you need to be able to understand safety regulations, so that you can design and implement the correct safety management system for organisations.
But your role goes much deeper than that. To be a highly effective safety practitioner, you need to be able to influence the thoughts, actions and behaviours at your workplace, so that employees follow the safety goals, thereby creating the right safety culture.
This is key because without this ability you can end up with a mediocre safety culture that produces a dismal safety record. But it also means honing your skills in a number of different areas.
Safety practitioners that lead the way have also learned to be skillful in these other areas:
- Safety marketer - It's not enough to tell people to work safely or to write an article for the company newsletter about how to correctly us a ladder. You need to be great at marketing the benefits of safety. This means you need to master basic marketing techniques such as knowing how to write content that targets your audience, create compelling headlines, choose high impact visuals and design attention-grabbing safety content with the right words that inspire action. By understanding marketing principles, you will be better at communicating the importance of safety. You can find out more in the book, Transform Your Safety Communication.
- Safety curator - As a safety professional, you are the focal point for all safety-related information. This means you need to be able to locate and track down any safety information that is called upon at a moment's notice. In the book, Safety Culture (by James Roughton and Nathan Crutchfield), it is mentioned that being able to accurately curate all safety information means being relied upon for answers. This increases the potential that people will see you as knowledgeable and will be more likely to take on board your suggestions. This will increase your safety influence and ability to transform the safety culture.
- Safety psychologist - In order to change behaviour, you need to know how people think and act. You need to understand why people block safety communication and why some people just keep hurting themselves. When you're having discussions with others 1:1 to motivate them to improve their safety performance, understanding their state of mind, can be crucial in influencing them to change their behaviour.
- Safety networker - Once you've created your safety message, the next step is to then disseminate safety information in a timely manner and quickly, throughout an entire organisation. Safety professionals need to the friendliest person in the building. They need to get out and mingle with everyone. And I mean, everyone! You need to be able to influence the leadership team to enable the right changes to occur on safety issues and you need every other co-worker to listen to you when you talk about safety. It's really important that you are interested in others and that they know you care. This enables you to build up a strong network, so that any message you send out gets everyone's attention.
- Safety investigator - Of course, you all know that you need to investigate the causes behind incidents and accidents. But you need to learn to look beyond the numbers. Too often, safety professionals think the numbers tell the story, but miss the real story behind the numbers. They are only part of it. Care must be taken that numbers aren't outdated and that employees are being told irrelevant information. It's important to look at both the quantitative information, but also the qualitative findings that can often tell the real story.
Of course, you could say there are many other roles that you need, but these are the main ones that the average safety professional forgets about.
However, the essential skill, that I seem to keep saying over and over again, is that a safety professional has to care about others. Without the desire to care for others and keep them safe, you'll never motivate others to improve when it comes to safety. You won't be authentc nor trustworthy. If you truly care about others, then you'll do what you can to improve your skills in the five hidden roles of a safety professional.
Image credit: Pakorn, freedigitalphotos
One of the things I like about my job is consulting with safety professionals on how to improve their safety communication.
I get to review monthly safety themes and safety articles for the company newsletter and proffer suggestions for improvement. Often, a complete overhaul is required.
Safety professionals are great at the technical, but struggle when it comes to packaging information for other people to digest. Sadly, just because you find restraining loads very interesting, doesn't mean others will automatically share your enthusiasm.
What holds the safety professional back from creating safety communication content is not a lack of motivation, but rather a lack of knowledge on how to do it. No-one offers you the training and support you need to learn how to improve (well, except me!).
And yet, the irony is that the key role of a safety professional is to get buy in to the company's safety goals. The workforce expects safety leaders to shine a light on relevant safety information and help them see what the dangers are and what they need to do to keep safe. Safety professionals need to make safety meaningful to others, so that they know how it relates to their lives.
But that's not so easy to do, when you haven't been taught skills in creating compelling safety information.
If you want to start overhauling your safety communication, here are my five tips that I see safety professionals repeatedly making:
- Boring Titles - In advertising, titles are so important to draw people into an ad, that often advertising agencies will come up with 50 titles and then select the best one. Sometimes, they will even test titles in focus groups to see which one is the most compelling. Never underestimate the pulling power of your title. It has to invoke curiousity.
- Redundant Content - The brain processes meaning before detail. Any information that's not necessary gets ignored. Learn to whittle down your information to the core content. Shine a light on what's important. Only one message per article, resist the temptation to throw in other subjects.
- Use visuals incorrectly - Most safety professionals know that they need to incorporate a photo or diagram. But do you know the best ones to use? Make sure it clearly shows what it needs to. Include faces where you can because humans love looking at other humans (just like cats who like watching other cats on YouTube, except my cat, he prefers watching dogs).
- Writing looks unappealing - Yes, that's right your writing must look inviting. Just like a meal. Use lots of white space, dot points and short sentences, short words, highlight important information in bold and use images. And please, don't write like an academic. The safety industry has a penchant for boring academic style reports and articles. But by golly, they're boring. An article with a lot of writing (and big words) is a turn off.
- Writing style is boring - Learn to use a variety of writing techniques such as how to incorporate stories, metaphors and slogans. Make it conversational and friendly. Avoid old-fashioned corporate speak.
The number skill of any business leader is to be able to communicate your vision with such congruency that it influences the way the workforce thinks and acts.
As a safety leader you need to affect the feelings, thoughts and actions of your fellow workers with your vision of safety excellence.
Learning how to improve you safety communication skills is to key in being able to influence others. Learn how in book Transform Your Safety Communication or my free webinar that's on next week.
Recently, I was talking to a safety consultant who told me about a business he visited a while ago that had staff handling pieces of wood with multiple nails sticking out, while not wearing gloves.
Every day these employees were constantly subjecting their hands to pain, yet, no-one complained.
What's interesting about human behaviour is that when we are in physical pain the body will learn to adapt and avoid it.
Think about the last time you had a sore tooth. You automatically started eating on the other side of your mouth.
In this company where people were ignoring the daily pain of work, they just got used to it because everyone else was doing it and nobody protested. Management was okay and would have been open to suggestions (provided enough people let them knew of the issue).
Often, people will get so used to the pain they are in that they just don't notice it. It's easier for them to put their head in the sand and not even think about the pain, even if they are not happy about it.
The safety consultant even questioned some employees as to why they were putting up with the pain, but he just got the response that it wasn't a big deal.
Interestingly, humans are designed to avoid painful situations and move towards gainful. According to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, we are programmed to want freedom from fear, pain and danger. We intrinsically want to work in companies that will keep us safe from harm.
However, sometimes we don't feel that things will change or that by speaking up we will be in even more danger. This is what keeps people trapped. However, the good news is that because we are programmed to want to be pain free, you can tap into people's deep seated need to be safe.
Changing the Safety Mindset
When it comes to employees working unsafely or not even caring about their safety, the way to bring it to their attention is to make it active in their neurology. Instead of them deleting the pain, you need to bring it to the forefront of their mind. You need to stop them from pretending that it isn't a big deal.
The only way to break employees out of their complacency is to make them aware of the pain in a crystal clear way. To bring it to the top of mind, you need to start by asking feeling words such as "How does it feel to handle lumps of dry wood every day with nails that cut your hands?"
Or if they are working unsafely and in denial about the danger they are putting themselves into ask, "How do you think you'd feel if you lost your foot because you weren't being careful with the chainsaw?"
Essentially, you need to ask questions that make people aware of the level that they're at. Then, you need to paint a picture of the possibilities. What the future would look like if they made a change. For example, by asking: "So what do you think it would be like to come home from work everyday without cuts on your hands?"
You need to make them aware of the gap between where they are now and where they really want to be (or in this case, need to be). Call them to a higher place and tap into their emotions. The real trick is for them to tell you, rather than you tell them.
What a lot of safety professionals do is go into lots of detail about why people should avoid the dangerous behaviour. Or tell people off and let them know they are wrong or stupid (or both). This only creates overwhelment and the potential for disagreement. It almost certainly guarantees that they won't change.
When you change someone's attitude, you change their destiny. As a safety leader, you need to have the safety communication skills to encourage people to work at the optimum level. You need the skills to influence your workplace to buy into the company's safety vision.
What are you doing to learn how to change someone's attitude to safety? Your first step is to attend my free webinar, 3 Secret Strategies to Inspire Effective Action on Your Safety Messages.
Photo credit, Marin, freedigitalphotos.net
Marie-Claire Ross, author of the highly acclaimed book, Transform Your Safety Communication, is hosting a free webinar to help safety leaders and safety professionals improve how they talk about safety, in order to put safety front of mind for busy employees.
Melbourne, Australia (Date) – Marie-Claire Ross, CEO and Author at Digicast Productions, a safety communication agency, today announced the launch of a free webinar, 3 Secret Strategies for Inspiring Effective Action on your Safety Messages. It’s designed specifically for safety leaders who are frustrated that workers are ignoring their safety messages and who want an easier way to get co-workers to improve their safety habits.
Creating a safe workplace is a business imperative for all organisations. Yet, there is a plethora of safety related information readily available through the internet, professional associations, media publications, books and training courses.
What many organisations find is that they are drowning in safety information. There is so much safety intelligence to keep track of that it's difficult for them to decipher what is relevant for their company. What they really want is for someone to shine a light on applicable safety information and help people see what the dangers are and what they need to do to keep workers safe. In effect, workplaces are drowning in safety information, but they're starving for wisdom.
This is the important role of a safety professional. To be able to critically think about what the safety information is highlighting and then write and talk about it in such a way, that people can understand what it means and how it is relevant to them. Yet, so many safety professionals discuss safety in such a way that's confusing and obscures how that information relates to people's lives.
Marie-Claire Ross, the webinar host, says that “Safety professionals want their safety leadership messages to be understood and acted upon. This can be challenging when you have language and geography barriers, age differences and people just not listening because they suffer from the highly contagious “it won’t happen to me” bias. Then, there is the issue of trying to get people to listen to what is said, not what they think is being said. So often, safety professionals feel so frustrated that their safety messages are being misinterpreted. Being able to create the right safety message that gets attention, that people can understand, remember and then take the right action upon, is crucial for successful safety leadership.”
This one hour free webinar addresses:
- What the key ingredient is for an attention-grabbing message.
- How to get people to understand what you say and take the right action at the right time.
- A neat little trick that’s proven to help people remember what to do when they need it most.
The webinar is live on Monday 24 March at 10am AEDT. Those interested should visit www.digicast.com.au/safety-communication-secrets to register and to also download a free 4 Step AURA Safety Communication blueprint.
The event will only be recorded live once and the recording only available for 7 days.
For more information, contact email@example.com
Photo attribution: Stuart Miles
To be an effective safety leader, you need to be able to persuade your workplace to buy-in to your safety vision. You have to be able to cut through any confusion on safety and focus your organisation on what is important.
It's not just those working on the floor that you need to convince, but also senior management and the board.
Throughout time, revered leaders were those who were masters at communicating. JFK, Martin Luther King, Winston Churchill and Gandhi were all experts at formulating their own vision and then communicating it with such congruency and authenticity that it was able to influence how the masses acted. To this day, their respective legacies continue.
As Anthony Robbins says in the book, Unlimited Power, great leaders change the world through their communication power.
As you know, it's not enough to provide people with information. Getting people to take action is what separates an ordinary safety professional from a brilliant one.
When it comes to communicating about safety, you have less than one minute to catch the attention of your workforce with your safety messages.
Do you know what to say, or write, in those first 60 seconds?
You’re staff are drowning in safety rules and regulations, yet are starving for wisdom.
They need someone to cut through all the noise and communicate how safety information applies to their lives. They’re screaming for someone to make safety meaningful. And guess what? That person is YOU.
Here are 10 safety communication skills you need to learn, in order to motivate your workforce towards safety excellence.
- Create sticky messages - An often overlooked role of the safety professional is to critically think about what the safety information is highlighting and then communicating it in such a way, that people can understand what it means and how it is relevant to them. A superstar safety leader is able to shine a light on relevant safety information and help people see what the dangers are and what they need to do to keep safe. Then, that message needs to inspire action. Yet, so many safety professionals write and talk about safety in such a way that's confusing and obscures how that information relates to people's lives.
- Written communication skills - Being able to write a convincing safety campaign, is in the realm of copywriters. Yet, a safety professional needs to know how to make the month's safety theme an interesting topic of discussion. It's really important that safety professionals learn some basic marketing skills, to better influence staff with email newsletters and posters. This means having an understanding of what titles to use, how to write targeted messages and to avoid obscuring information with unnecessary padding.
- Run a high performance safety meeting - Running a safety meeting at a high performance level means getting everyone to come up with safety solutions, having open safety discussions and ensuring action is taken. Learn how to be an expert in running a safety meeting where everyone collaborates and action is taken.
- Sharing information - Companies that are great at safety have supervisors and safety staff that freely share safety information. For example, this means if they saw an article in the paper about a safety accident that involved the same equipment at their premises they would use that as an opportunity to discuss risks. It means passing on information from production. And it means giving everyone the best chance to do well in their jobs from a safety perspective. One of the ways Alcoa improved their safety record back in the late 1980's was to share safety information in real time to all of their sites worldwide (in fact, they were the first company to use email for corporate purposes).
- Be a safety curator - In addition to freely sharing information, you are also the main safety resource. This means you need to be able to locate and track down any safety information that is called upon at a moment's notice. In the book, Safety Culture, by James Roughton and Nathan Crutchfield, it is mentioned that being able to accurately curate all safety information means being relied upon for answers. This increases the potential that people will see you as knowledgeable and will be more likely to take on board your suggestions. It will expand your safety influence and ability to transform the safety culture.
- Safety conversation skills - Most professions need people with great verbal skills. When it comes to safety, it's integral that safety professionals have the skills to encourage people to openly discuss issues in safety meetings, but also the ability to be able to initiate a difficult safety conversation. You need to know a variety of approaches to talk to people about improving their safety habits.
- Be friendly, be a networker - Once you've created your safety message, the next step is to then disseminate safety information in a timely manner and quickly, throughout an entire organisation. Safety professionals need to the friendliest person in the building. They need to get out and mingle with everyone. And I mean, everyone! You need to be able to influence the leadership team to enable the right changes to occur on safety issues and you need every other co-worker to listen to you when you talk about safety. It's really important that you are interested in others and that they know you care. This enables you to build up a strong network, so that any message you send out gets everyone's attention.
- Embrace social media - Learn how to use social media to connect with your peers. Ensure you have a strong understanding of how social media works, particularly within your organisation. Your effectiveness will be determined by how quickly you're able to get out a safety messages and how well it is received. Social media is another communication tool that will improve your influence skills.
- Encourage two-way communication - Always follow up your written or verbal communication with feedback. Get out of your office and onto the floor to find out how your new safety processes and your safety communication are performing. By finding out the responses you are getting with your communication, you'll be able to change your future communication style so that it hits the mark. While also improving your safety processes.
- Tailoring your communication for the right audience - You could almost be forgiven if you think a safety professional needs to have an almost Jekyll and Hyde persona. Your influence skills need to reach different levels in the company from those with minimal school education right up to the CEO. Learn to change your communication style so that it matches the style of the receiver.
Your level of commnication mastery will determine your level of success both in your professionl life, but also your personal one.
As well as knowing all of the safety regulations, you need to have the skills to synthesise diverse information and re-package it, so that people can understand it. It means being able to connect with others, collaborate on projects and influence your co-workers to meet safety goals. But overall, it's all about getting people to take the right actions.
Recently, Air New Zealand launched its new inflight safety video in collaboration with Sports Illustrated, the swimsuit franchise.
Now, if you also think that's weird, the safety video is also used as an opportunity to sell....the Cook Islands.
So let's see, you've got a safety training video that is effectively selling three products:
- Attractive Sports Illustrated Models
- The Cook Islands
- Inflight safety.
One of the golden rules in advertising is that you can't be all things to all people. So of course, only one of those messages wins. Which one is it?
Poking Fun at Safety
For many years, Air New Zealand has been a leader in producing funny inflight safety videos. And let's face it, knowing how to put on a safety belt, reach oxygen and sit in the brace position is not rocket science. Once you've seen one flight attendant do their little front of house stage show, you've seen them all. However, due to safety regulations, we all need to be reminded.
Air New Zealand has successfully made safety information not only enjoyable to watch, but you still learn from it. This point really is the key because so many advertising agencies come in and make safety funny, but the whole safety meaning gets lost. In the end, no-one remembers the safety messages. A good example is Dumb Ways to Die.
In November, I flew Air New Zealand to get to San Francisco. I have to say that it was my best flight ever. The food was amazing and the staff wonderful. I even enjoyed the Betty White safety training video. Sure the jokes were a bit croaky, particularly after the fourth time I saw it, but I got the message.
But with this new inflight safety video titled: Safety in Paradise, I'm lost. I'm so glad I know inflight safety protocol because I'm too distracted to learn anything or remember.
For a start, no plane is used to show the inflight safety training. I have no problem with that because in the Betty White video, I felt that this was done successfully. However, seeing a snorkling mask being put under a beach chair to represent storing your items under the chair in front of you, is just a little too conceptual for me.
Then there are the pretty girls making cute faces and poses to camera. That's nice on a Sports Illustrated video, but really conflicting on a safety training video. I'm a female and I'm not listening to a word they say. All I see is the beach and a talking bikini. So if I can't focus on a message, how can a man? Especially, a teenage boy for that matter.
Of course, there is also the issue, that it is incredibly sexist. Personally, I would have preferred some hot young men to have been frolicking about, as well, to balance it out a bit. But then, wait a minute, that's not a safety training video, that's a Sports Illustrated video with models living an aspirational lifestyle!
While Air New Zealand acknowledges that they did pre-test the ad with females, I find it disappointing that it seems more geared for a male audience. After all, women are around 51% of their target market.
Other issues include the music is too loud (can't hear what they say), the inflight safety metaphors too vague and the Cook Islands sales pitch confusing. It's really hard to think safety when you're being sold a holiday to the Cook Islands and eye candy. It smacks of Air New Zealand getting as many people into the party to cover costs.
This is so wrong on so many levels and you sense that the marketers let their egos take control. It's all about the marketing and the advertising team having contact with models and visiting exotic locations. They obviously thought they were being clever, by getting extra sponsors to cover their costs. But all they did was focus on their needs. They've totally forgotten about the real reason for the video. The end result is a bizarre mix of bikinis, pretty beaches and obscure safety messages.
Overall, it's disappointing when you compare it to previous Air New Zealand safety videos that were funny and clever. This just isn't very witty and the script lacks the previous finesse of other Air New Zealand inflight safety videos. Without the models, the words border on being mediocre at best. But it is better, than a flight attendant going through the motions with little enthusiasm.
All in all, I'd say that the models win for getting a great promotional opportunity that celebrates their beauty.
In terms of whether Air New Zealand was able to make safety sexy, I'd have to say "no". In the end, making a topic sexy is making people interested in it. Yes, I'm sure lots of men will happily watch this video, but I'm sure if you tested them afterwards, you'd be hard pressed to get them to recall any safey messages. But I'm sure they could remember the girls' names. The topic of safety hasn't been made more engaging, it's just been hyped up, extremely diluted and lost in a sea of unforgettable information. It just feels superficial and meaningless.
Cocktail by the beach, anyone?
Recently, I've been reading Safety Culture: An Innovative Leadership Approach by James Roughton and Nathan Crutchfield and one proposal I liked in the book was that every safety professional must have their own professional brand.
Personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers. Essentially, it's an ongoing process of establishing a prescribed impression or image in other people's minds about yourself.
In today's world of social media, personal branding is becoming increasingly important. But it's not just your Linkedin profile that you should be worried about.
As a safety leader, your effectiveness is determined by how clearly and quickly you can spread the positive influence of safety-related activities throughout an organisation.
It's up to you to develop the leadership skills to positively shape the safety culture.
One of the important ways that you do that is to cultivate an impression of being an approachable, friendly safety professional that's passionate about keeping others safe. That's actually not optional. It's what you need to be.
Here are seven tips to cultivate the right personal safety brand:
- Be authentic - If you want to be able to influence others on safety you need to be 100% authentic and passionate about safety. This means that you only write and talk about a safety process that you believe in. Otherwise, people will not trust your message. As a safety leader, co-workers will follow your actions, not your words. Say you’ve introduced a new procedure on hand washing. Make sure you also follow the safety procedure, when on site, as well as politely informing people when they’re doing it incorrectly (or forgetting). But also ask people how it is going. Follow up to see if they’re remembering to wash their hands. You might discover that the soap makes their hands itchy, so you could show that you care by purchasing an allergy free soap. Once employees can see that you mean what you say, they will have the confidence to believe you. This means they will be more open to your messages and trust you.
- Improve your self-image - If you don't feel that good about yourself, it's highly likely that you need to be a lot more congruent in how you engage in the world. As Brendon Burchard discusses in the book, The Charge, how we think of ourselves (self-image) and how much our behaviour is aligned with that in the real world is the stuff of congruence. It's also about how we want others to perceive us and who we want to become. For example, if you believe you're a great friend, but when you're best friend rings to tell you that they've got a terminal illness and you can't bare to even talk to them anymore, then you're not acting in congruence. And you feel awful because you're not acting the way you believe you're capable of and you know you're disappointing your friend. Often, when we're not acting in congruence with who we believe we are, we feel angry and frustrated quite often. It's important to consciously create a unifying self-image of who you are and who you want to be. Then, ensure that you project that all the time.
- Get clear on your brand - This leads me to my next point. What sort of a safety professional do you want to be? What are your three values of what makes a great safety professional? In the book, Unlimited Power, Anthony Robbins says that successful people have a fundamental sense of what's important to them and what really matters. They're clear on their values. Sit down and write three words that can be your three standard frames through which you act in life. For example, my three words are Insightful, Exuberant and Confident. As Brendon Burchard says, everyday you need to refer to these three words to help you align yourself with who you wish to be. Also, they're really good to focus on before you start writing an important message, so that you stay true to what's important to you.
- Be mindful of your social media presence - Ensure all information you send out is in alignment with who you are. Update your Linkedin profile, so that your brand is consistent. And if you regularly contribute to Linkedin groups, make sure that what you say is helpful, friendly and in keeping with your brand. It's not the time to belittle others, complain or make outrageous negative comments. Same goes with Facebook.
- Value yourself - Being clear on your values and expressing them daily will also ensure that you start valuing yourself and what you can contribute. If you your values and actions are out of alignment it creates internal conflict. Being able to convince yourself, that you're an amazing safety professional and bringing that to life will not only improve how you feel about yourself, but how others see you.
- Be friendly, be a networker - Safety professionals need to the friendliest person in the building. They need to get out and mingle with everyone. And I mean, everyone! You need to be able to influence the leadership team to enable the right changes to occur on safety issues and you need every other co-worker to listen to you when you talk about safety. It's really important that you are interested in others and that they know you care. This enables you to build up a strong network, so that any message you send out gets everyone's attention.
- Be a safety resource - As a safety professional, you are the focal point for all safety-related information. This means you need to be able to locate and track down any safety information that is called upon at a moment's notice. In the book, Safety Culture, it is mentioned that being able to accurately curate all safety information means being relied upon for answers. This increases the potential that people will see you as knowledgeable and will be more likely to take on board your suggestions. This will increase your safety influence and ability to transform the safety culture.
By being clear on who you are and what is important to you and being in alignment with these values, you will develop a strong personal safety brand. This will ensure that you have the safety influence required for a high functioning safety culture, as others know that they can believe and trust what you say. It also means workers are more likely to follow your instructions resulting in a happy, safe workplace.
Image Credit: Suwit Ritjaroon, Free Digital Photos