THE SAFETY PROFESSIONAL’S BIGGEST FAILURE……. problem-solving

Safety Professionals are excellent problem identifiers but horrible problem solvers! 

If the above statement offends you, that is probably a good thing. Safety people are excellent compliance experts and can identify almost everything that can cause unsafe behaviors or at-risk conditions. But sometimes, you struggle to give advice or help solve the issues. To become more effective and influential, you need to overcome the biggest professional problem……solving problems.

Sometimes you can’t solve the problems because you think you should never solve anything. Well, let me say this, 

“the wise Safety Professional will stare down each problem or potential problem that comes across their plate, and before expending an ounce of energy on trying to solve it, they first consider these three questions….”

1. Is this a problem to be solved or conflicts to be managed?

Before you decide to tackle whatever potential problem, first recognize if you really can solve it. Not every difficult situation that lands in your hands are a problem you will ever be able to solve. You can’t solve the problem of disruptions if a leader isn’t holding his workers accountable. However, you can identify the everyday actions they must follow to protect their people. You can minimize these by good preparation, but you can’t solve them. These are conflicts you must learn to manage.

2. Why is this a problem?

Why is this a problem? Is it a problem? Why do I care? Often, we will identify issues that can be compliance issues or put workers at risk. Before attempting to solve the problem, ask the leader or worker if they think your identification is a problem. If the answer is yes, ask for their suggestion or input to fix or eliminate it. If they say no, give them the “why” on what makes it a problem or concern. Ask this question to get desired feedback.

“I think I might be missing something here. Can you clarify what the problem is we are trying to solve?”

3. What can we do to solve the problem?

So you identified a problem, and the leadership and workforce agreed that it was an issue, or you gave them the “why” it was a problem. Now we need to provide the “what.” This can be a suggestion, discussion, or directional approach. However, there must be an identified way to solve the identified problem(s) when the conversation is made. Always figure out just what the scale and scope of this problem are. And put the appropriate energy and resources to fix and eliminate it.

NOW WHAT, SAY WHAT

Remember to reflect on this quote when dealing with problems. 

 “The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.

– Captain Jack Sparrow

Denis is an Executive Director at the John Maxwell Group, is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior, Consultant. Denis is currently the Director of Health & Safety for Ferguson Enterprises. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique, passionate, and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader. 

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture training, DISC Behavioral consulting, or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

WHAT MAKES YOU SUCCESSFUL IN SELLING SAFETY

“Those who really want success always work till they get it”

DENIS BAKER

Whether you like it or not, your ability to sell your suggestions, ideas, and programs determines your success and the health and safety of your workforce. The good news is that you don’t have to be a natural-born salesperson to succeed in the world of safety. However, if you have a passion for people’s safety and best interests at heart (with an eye for reducing risks), you already have the makings of a great salesperson.

Selling safety is not something they do to people, but as a collaborative process between themselves and the workforce and leadership. Great salespeople can influence the person or group and persuade them to adhere to what is right. Good sales skills can mean fewer injuries and a strong culture.

FIVE QUALITIES EXHIBITED BY SUCCESSFUL SAFETY PROFESSIONALS

Regardless if you’re trying to improve your skills or coach or mentor your team, I recommend looking for these characteristics. You will increase your sales skills by cultivating these five qualities.

1. They are Competitive – Effective Safety Professionals who successfully sell safety don’t want to sit at a desk, staring at their computer for 8 hours, and then go home. They live and breathe, selling safety to the workforce in person; it’s almost like a high. They’re often energized by the idea of exceeding company or facility goals and being rated the best in the organization.

Good salespeople seek out chances to improve performance because that makes them better. I say this often…………….” You can’t change a culture from behind a desk.”

2. They Listen – When you think about “sales,” you might picture a slick-haired, smooth-talking car salesman. He won’t take no for an answer, and he’s just running his mouth without listening to the customer. This stereotype is for bad salespeople. Good Safety Professionals shouldn’t treat employee interactions as a chance to pontificate what they expect. Instead, you need to ask questions and listen to their answers, suggestions, or anything else they want to discuss. You must approach these as honest conversations. You should still lead the path, but you need to allow responses. When you listen to the employee or leadership pain points, you can better align their needs with your directions.

3. They are Robust – I have spent much time researching and learning how to be a successful salesperson throughout my safety career. However, I have learned that selling safety can be a tough gig. The best salespeople are robust people. They are persistent in their approach. If you can’t sell it the first time, you reflect, analyze, and approach it differently 2, 3, or even 10 times. But, if it is correct, you never back down! However, let failure motivate you to succeed.

4. They are Confident – Confidence is the currency of selling safety. Selling your confidence means people see you as in control and informative — even if they are not fully onboard. It’s all about how you present yourself to people. Does your voice tremble when you talk, or is it engaging and bright? Even if you don’t feel confident, presenting yourself that way will bring trust and security to your pitch. At the same time, your tone and body language matter, your choice of words significantly impact your message.

5. They are Honest – Selling safety is not about manipulating people into buying into your direction. That’s not only dishonest and wrong, but it’s also an awful approach and will result in disrespect and loss of trust. Safety Professionals should be honest and transparent from the start and only want to sell something to improve safety. Be honest with the workforce about what you commit to. Can you meet their needs? Be realistic; if your team can’t meet their expectations, it will only frustrate them. And yes, that means being honest — even if being honest means losing a sale.

“Great Safety Professionals are relationship builders who provide value and respect to their workforce so they go home every day.”

DENIS BAKER

SO WHAT, NOW WHAT

Look, you don’t have to be a natural-born salesperson to be a successful safety professional. I encourage you to cultivate these five qualities to increase your sales skills. But remember, this isn’t something that happens overnight. Practice and grow your sales skills over time. Approach them like you would any other skill, and you will see an increase in success.

WAYS TO INCREASE YOUR INFLUENCE AND SELL SAFETY

Two shoe salesmen go to a remote island to break into new markets. After a few days, one salesperson calls the office and says, ‘I’m on the next flight. I can’t sell shoes here. Everyone goes barefoot.’ The other salesperson sends an email to the boss minutes later: ‘Get ready! The prospects are unlimited. Nobody wears shoes here!’ 

When you read this, you might have thought about how the first salesperson didn’t take advantage of the many shoeless people and how the second salesperson will be very successful. But, heck, maybe some of you are thinking, who cares, what does this have to do about safety. 

Let me respond…..

1. The first sale person is going to be out of work

2. The second salesperson will be financially secure and promoted quickly

3. The third thought, SALES HAS EVERYTHING TO DO ABOUT SUCCESSFUL SAFETY PERFORMANCE! 

If you go to Webster’s Dictionary and look up the word “sales,” it says “to exchange a commodity for money.” However, I believe safety and sales both fall in the same categories. I believe safety can be redefined as sales, and I know the only way to get workers bought in is for them to accept expectations and programs through your influence. 

When we think about it that way, there’s nothing creepy or sneaky about it. As we talk about influence, we are talking about building relationships, making a difference in people’s lives, and exchanging our services to safety values so people can go home every day.

The difference between average safety professionals and successful ones is staggering. Average safety professionals will hit their goals and objectives occasionally or meet some goals or some objectives, but not all. However, successful safety professionals meet their goals and objectives —EVERY time — in addition to establishing a consistently strong safety culture. 

The idea behind this topic is to provide information so that you can understand that safety professionals provide service to our customers. Meaning we serve our workforce and the company leadership. Safety professionals have little to no authority, so everything we believe or want has to be sold to every person. After reading this blog, you will walk away thinking of various tips and ideas to become a more efficient safety professional. Doing this will result in much more significant results.

If you want to exceed your current successes, read the 8 Identified Habits of a Successful Safety Professional. If you need to achieve higher performance, I strongly suggest you consider implementing and integrating the 11 Tips to Becoming a Successful Safety Professional. Following these habits of successful safety professionals will help you become one of the top-selling safety salespeople on your team — or even the organization.

SELLING HABITS OF SUCCESSFUL SAFETY PROFESSIONALS

  1. Identify and stick to your character – A clearly defined character is crucial to an effective sales process. And a safe person who sticks to that persona effectively generates buy-in. In addition, an effective safety professional must research and become very familiar with the processes and products along with all levels of employees. This gives you the right direction in your selling process.
  2. Use a measurable, repeatable sales process – Low-performing safety professionals let intuition guide them. High-performing safety professionals use a process that’s optimized to move as many prospects as possible from “connect” to “achieve.” Low-performing safety professionals sometimes let things slip through the cracks. High-performing safety professionals know the state of every person and what motivates people, what actions they’ll take next, and when. 
  3. Know your direction – Being able to sell our ideas is half the battle. Understanding what you’re selling is the other half.  People want more access to information (the why) than ever before. To gain their trust and add value, you have to know clearly know what direction to go and why it’s valuable to your workforce.
  4. Find shortcuts and hacks – Once an excellent safety professional identifies a successful strategy or technique, they use it — again and again, until it stops working. This is very smart. Safety professionals are constantly working against the clock, which means the more time they spend experimenting, the less time they have for actual selling. 
  5. Practice active listening – Most every safety professional I have interacted with struggles with listening (including myself). Successful Safety professionals are entirely present when they talk to people. They’re not thinking about another deal, looking at their phones, or sending funny memes to their team members. Instead, they’re engaged — and as a result, their conversations with buyers are deeper and more meaningful. Active listening may be one of the most complex skills since we typically care more about what we have to say. However, it’scritical. Not only will you build stronger relationships, but you’ll unlock information that’ll help you position yourself in the most efficnet direction. 
  6. Work hard – It’s 5 p.m., and your counterparts have already left the office. The high-performing safety professionals are still in the office. They are tired and some have families, but they’re still sending emails, scheduling meetings, and walking through the facility or site. The idea is that you must be engaged with the workforce and continually sell your ideas. You cannot change a culture from behind a desk.
  7. Follow up – Many safety professionals fail to effectively follow up after agreeing to help get things done or looking at options. When you fail to follow up, you have lost all respect from that person or group. 
  8. Personalize your message – Instead of following a script and approaching each associate with a “one-size-fits-all” mentality, high-performing safety professionals are committed to learning as much as they can about a person, group or process and will tailor their message. These safety professionals understand their workforce’s unique pain points and explain why following and following their direction is crucial.

TIP TO BECOMING A BETTER SAFETY PROFESSIONAL

  1. Shadow your colleagues – Want to improve your performance? Identify the best safety professional within your company and ask if you can shadow them. Receiving coaching from your peers is a great way to get better at your job while building solid relationships with your coworkers.
  2. Practice your people skills – Successful safety professionals have excellent people skills. Its doesn’t matter if you have an extrovert personality or an introvert personality. What matters is your ability to build strong relationships, build respect, trust, and add value to people. Small talk is a great learnable skill — and one that’s crucial to your success. So whether you’re at a job site, plant, or in a meeting, practice making other people feel at ease. 
  3. Be a team player – So much of safety pop culture glorifies the lone wolf. But the best safety professionals know it takes a village to build a successful team.
  4. Know when to stop – Are you wasting too much time on discussions that just aren’t going in the right direction? If it is, end the conversation and walk away. The next step is to analyze why it went wrong and identify options from now on. Then, you must follow up and try to sell it again. 
  5. Be transparent – The days of telling associates anything is over. Don’t promise anything that doesn’t or will not exist. You could earn temporary success, but it won’t stay for long, and you’ll end up with bad reviews and a poor reputation. 
  6. Always solve problems – Who is your customer? Your employees! Safety professionals tend to be excellent problem identifiers but horrible problem solvers. Don’t identify issues and not provide solutions. A consultative safety approach allows you to be honest with your customers about their need to reduce risk and improve safety. 
  7. Roll with rejection – You won’t win every deal, and some people won’t like you. That’s part of being in safety. And while it’s essential to be thoughtful about how you can improve, it’s crucial to move on quickly from rejection. Experts suggest viewing rejection as proof that you’re pushing the limits. So, examine why you weren’t successful, ask for outside opinions when appropriate, and move forward quickly and positively to bigger and better performance.
  8. Take breaks – In safety, activity is often correlated with results. However, the more we roll out, the more stress and anxiety we create. Please focus on the top 3 things that will up the level of safety and follow those until they are well embraced and offering results, then consider additional options.
  9. Believe in what you’re selling – It’s easier to be passionate about — and sell — a safety idea when you genuinely believe in it. The most effective safety professionals follow the processes and believe in their values. Find happy testimonials from employees if you feel “meh” about something you’re selling. Examples of how your ideas have improved people’s safety — both big and small — will reinforce your motivation and give you proof that you are doing the right thing.
  10. Build personal relationships – One of my mentors is one of the best salespeople I know. He has taught me how to become an effective and successful salesperson, and I have used it in every company I’ve worked for. He is one of the most vital relationship builders. Everywhere he goes, he connects with people— not from a LinkedIn perspective, or the “let’s exchange business cards” way, but in a genuine, the humanist way that makes you want to talk to him again. As a safety professional, relationships are your success. You don’t need Don Draper level of charisma; on the contrary, a desire to help goes a lot further than a magnetic personality.
  11. They prepare ahead of time – An effective safety professional prepares and gets buy-in and approval before rolling anything out. That means they research and gather all the information they need before the first meeting. After that, you must go in with a contingency plan. This way, you are prepared for challenges or questions and can effectively respond to avoid losing the sale.

SO WHAT, NOW WHAT

There are many ways to succeed in safety. However, your ability to be an effective salesperson will result in success. By implying the habits mentioned above, you will provide a positive sales experience to your workforce. Demonstrating that you have the passion, knowledge, self-determination, and flexibility can take you from an average professional to a high-performing success story.

Denis is an Executive Director at the John Maxwell Group, is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior, Consultant. Denis is currently the Director of Health & Safety for Ferguson Enterprises. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique, passionate, and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader. 

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture training, DISC Behavioral consulting, or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

MY FOCUS THIS YEAR IS BUILDING STRONG RELATIONSHIPS

Build relationships by influencing what you expect, reflect what you desire, Become what you respect, and mirror what you admire.”

UNKNOWN

It’s a new year!! Many of you have come up with new year goals on improving and changing things. It could be eating healthier, getting more sleep, hitting the gym, or improving personal growth. But, let’s admit, this is a typical American tradition to forget or quit early into the new year. My goal is to focus on building stronger relationships with my coworkers throughout the entire year. 

But how do I build strong relationships with every coworker? Relationships give us the ability to build respect, trust and ultimately allow us to influence. As you look at your relationships at work, there is no one you spend more time with than those you work with. 

Building relationships doesn’t mean you have to create a friendship. It means your colleagues must have confidence in what you say and suggest. I was recently put in a different role where it is critical to have strong relationships with every team member.

Building relationships doesn’t mean you have to create a friendship. It means your colleagues must have confidence in what you say and suggest. I was recently put in a different role where it is critical to have strong relationships with every team member. Even though I have focused most of my last 15 years on growing my leadership, I tend to want things my way, and everyone else doesn’t know what they are doing or talking about. So, I want to change my approach to ensure I build a strong relationship with each person. 

Here are 8 things I am focusing on to build stronger relationships.

  1. I will focus on people through my perception.  Your self-awareness, self-esteem, and self-perception establish the foundation of all your relationships. How you view yourself and life shapes how you see and relate to others.
  2. “People don’t care how much you know till they know how much you care.” Caring about people isn’t automatic. Not everyone cares. I’m sure you’ve run into people along the way that it’s clear that they don’t care. You can’t learn to care, it’s not a skill, but you can decide to care. 
  3. I will really listen. This is a game-changer. One of the most remarkable ways to build relationships with anyone is to listen genuinely. I am often in a hurry to give my viewpoint. I always want people not to “STOP TALKING, QUIT WASTING OXYGEN.” So, when you slow down for a minute or an hour and truly listen, you communicate that you value that person. 
  4. Hurting people hurts people. When your response to a situation is greater than the issue at hand, the real issue is always about something else. Strong leaders figure out how to get to the real issue.
  5. I will admit when I’m wrong, ask for forgiveness and forgive others quickly. Taking responsibility for your actions is the core to achieving solid relationships. If you make a mistake, own it. If you treat someone poorly, ask forgiveness. You might be correct, but if you need to win, you’ll lose in the long run.
  6. I will determine how to add value to people. You can add value to people in simple ways. Adding value is no more complex than the idea of how you contribute to them. It can be as simple as a kind and encouraging word, and it can be as involved as a lifetime of mentoring. Your relationships with others will give you the knowledge of how to add value to them. 
  7. I will strive to encourage my colleagues. We all know the answer but let me ask anyway. Have you ever been encouraged too much by anyone? Of course not. Your encouragement will create a strong relationship and increase your leadership.
  8. I will build Trust through my strong relationships. When it comes down to relationships, Trust is critical. But, unfortunately, at times, we will reduce Trust. Trust is like having a pocket full of coins. When I build Trust, I place more coins in my pocket; when I reduce Trust, I lose coins. The idea is to never run out of coins in your pocket, and you will maintain a level of Trust. This reflects your character and, ultimately, who you are.

I identified these focus items by reflecting on the last couple of years, identifying what I do well in building relationships and what I need to improve on. Some of these will be easy to achieve; however, many will challenge me this year. But I desire to make this year a successful year in building solid relationships and exceeding expectations. 

Let me strongly encourage you to consider these 10 focus items and make the necessary adjustments to achieve an intense year!

“A relationship is not perfect, you will fight over and over, but as long as you make-up, everything will be alright.”

UNKNOWN

Denis is an Executive Director at the John Maxwell Group, is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior, Consultant. Denis is currently the Director of Health & Safety for Ferguson Enterprises. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique, passionate, and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader. 

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture training, DISC Behavioral consulting, or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

CONFLICT WITH TEAM MEMBERS, How to Relieve It

Team Members will experience conflicts. A member of your team or another colleague whom you think is in the trenches with you can suddenly become a foe. In an instant, teams meant to work together to achieve the goals and objectives can end up locked in conflict. I don’t think any of us wake up in the morning hoping to deal with conflict………..but it will show up. Conflicts rip teams apart, destroy morale, and will result in poor performance.

So, what do we need to do to relieve the conflict and become a stronger high-performance team? 

  1. Positions – Many team members focus on their job title to dictate the direction. This is very typical for those promoted to a high level for the first time, or maybe it is a person who has occupied the job for many years and feels they know how to strategize for success. To relieve this conflict, the team members must be open to allowing each member to share their thoughts and ideas, and the team provides professional feedback. When each person is talking, other team members must focus on listening to what is being said and understanding where they are coming from and why they are posing the information. 
  2. Mistrust or uneven communication – Many teams have members who create an atmosphere of mistrust because they want the results to follow them. As a part of multiple teams, many members don’t communicate or consider the entire company but focus on what will work best for their assigned responsibilities. This creates a very contentious atmosphere and results in extreme conflict. For example, suppose someone dominates the conversation while others sit silent or appear to have dropped out. In that case, a team member might need to stop the process and ask each person what they need to accommodate their assigned responsibilities. This will reduce the frustration and eliminate the conflict.
  3. Personality clashes – When you don’t get along with a team member, it can make both of you very frustrated. And though you might wish for a personality transplant for your annoying coworker, that’s probably not going to happen. Personality clashes are the most reported problem in the workplace. Too often, these conflicts go unresolved because people concentrate on their personalities rather than focusing on the issues. When the clashes escalate, they create a TOXIC work environment. People influence each other’s behavior. We can’t control or change another person’s personality, but we certainly can control our own emotions and reactions. The clashes are between you and the other person, no one else. Consider what Lou Holtz’s humorous perspective is, “Don’t tell your problems to people! 80% don’t care, and the other 20% are glad you have them.”
  4. Power issues and personal agendas – I am KING and WILL DO what I WANT TO DO! A conflict that involves power issues or solid personal agendas must be deleted. The reality is that some members are not a right fit for the team, and leaders need to remove or offer them another role. This doesn’t happen often, but occasionally it will. The good news is the team usually jumps forward once it changes. 

“When your agenda becomes more important than the team’s desired outcome, team performance suffers, and each member will fail.” 

DENIS BAKER

Conflict can improve team performance when it is handled properly. The challenge for Team members is knowing how and when to intervene.

SO WHAT, NOW WHAT

When we have our leaky roof, we’re just hoping to restore things to normal. However, when we repair Team relationships, there is always an opportunity to build more trust and increase future performance.

Denis is an Executive Director at the John Maxwell Group, is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior, Consultant. Denis is currently the Director of Health & Safety for Ferguson Enterprises. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique, passionate, and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader. 

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture training, DISC Behavioral consulting, or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

How to Succeed in Effective Communication

“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” 

– George Bernard Shaw

Have you ever discussed something intended to be formal and set direction to your team or colleagues only to learn that no one can remember what you said or where they need to go? Unfortunately, this occurs many times when I talk or write.

It’s impossible to be an effective leader without learning how to be an effective communicator. I have learned that those who can communicate become the most influential leaders.

The good thing is we can all grow in our communication capabilities. 

Here are seven (7) standards for effective communication. These standards are realistically practical both in personal and professional communication.

1. Understand who you’re talking to – know who you are talking to, their concerns or interests, and what approach will result in effective communication.

CONSIDER: Who am I talking to, and what do they need or want to know?

2. Be Clear and Concise in Your Message – Be crystal clear and concise about your message. Everything you say or write should support your message. 

CONSIDER: What is it that I need to communicate?

3. Be Sure You Know What You Want To Accomplish Out of Your Conversation – When you speak or write, know what results you want to accomplish. If you don’t know what you want, they probably won’t either. If you don’t say it, you can’t expect them to guess accurately.

CONSIDER: What is the single most crucial outcome needed to accomplish with this message?

4. Actively Listen – Active listening keeps you engaged with your conversation positively. Active listening is the process of listening attentively while someone else speaks, paraphrases, and even reflecting on what is said without holding judgment and advice. When you practice active listening, you make the other person feel valued. Thus, active listening is the foundation for any successful conversation.

CONSIDER: Do I understand what they are saying and why? 

5. Cultivate Your Confidence. – Confidence is a combination of belief, ability, action, and humility. Suppose you believe in yourself – practice. If you lack the ability – ask for help. If you lack action – create accountability. If you lack humility–realize you don’t know what you don’t know.

CONSIDER: Which is my most important area of growth right now: belief, ability, action, or humility?

6. Have A Clear and Concise Outcome Expectation – What do you want a listener or reader to do with what you’ve said? Tell them. People are more likely to act when you’ve made the right action obvious.

CONSIDER: What response do I want from this audience?

7. Communicate Often – They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. But most of the time, people forget. Repeat important messages regularly. Don’t assume you only have to say something once.

CONSIDER: What different methods or approaches can I use to repeat or reinforce my message?

Great communicators choose their words well, understand their audience, and connect with them at the right time and place. By applying these tips and practicing, you can master the skills and learn to be an effective communicator.

By following these 7 standards you will become a Great Communicator!

Denis is an Executive Director at the John Maxwell Group, is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior, Consultant. Denis is currently the Director of Health & Safety for Ferguson Enterprises. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique, passionate, and emotionally driven style resonates with many who desire to become influential leaders. 

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture training, DISC Behavioral consulting, or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

Vision Statement Challenges

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible.”

Unknown

Almost every day, I am either talking about or mentally reconsidering the effectiveness of current vision statements or why there is a lack of statements. Typical discussion and/or thinking involves the use, misuse, and impact of mission and vision statements. 

Many times I have conversations with many of my colleagues and create very informative information. 

Here is a typical discussion with a couple of colleagues.

DENIS: I reviewed our current activity and realized we don’t have a written vision statement, so how do we know what we want or need to accomplish?

My bias is that we must create a vision statement to drive our plans and create a program. I see this as a critical piece in organizational success. 

More to the point, if a company does not have a written vision, then leadership needs to embed them deeply into the head and heart of the workforce. And, if they are not authentic and driven statements, then it’s pointless anyway.

BOB: I would agree with many of your points. The fact that it is what the company “does” with its statements is what is essential. In most cases, these statements have been neglected. 

JOHN: I agree that companies can spend too much time on massaging vision statements.

But I also think many organizations spend too little time on them as well. There must be a balance. When properly created, formed, communicated, and used, these statements provide a great deal of agenda harmony, synergy into the organization, clarity of priority in budgeting, effectiveness inaccurate staffing, and many other things.

Most importantly, it removes the fuzziness in the people’s minds and where the company is directed. If a statement is made well, the statement will identify gaps, relational deficiencies and will create energy, commitment, optimism and makes strategic planning more robust.

Of course, these statements can’t do anything; it’s all in the way they are integrated into the organizational system. The truth be told, though, most organizations already operate from a vision, but it’s usually informal and imprecise and carried out by a few influential leaders in the company.

A couple of questions to ask when interviewing for a job or if you are new to a company is;

  • If your company was at its very best, what would this look like? 
  • Where would people spend their time and resources to meet expectations?

These don’t directly address the vision. Because, If you ask, “what is your vision?” most people will recite what they read or may look confused. When asked subject-oriented questions, however, a picture emerges.

DENIS: Excellent points, everyone. I am a big fan of vision statements, IF they are fully communicated to the entire organization and the leadership is committed to fulfilling the stated vision. I agree with everything said.

  • vision statements help visualize the desired future
  • create a metric process for attaining identified goals
  • get buy-in and commitment from the workers and leaders

However, I have seen them generate little use in most areas, despite pleas and pushing from the leaders. 

Without a mission statement, you may get to the top of the ladder and then realize it was leaning against the wrong building.”

DAVE RAMSEY

To ensure we are moving in the right direction, we should have two types of statements.

  1. Vision statements are related to a specific project or position (think building program, launching a new safety campaign, or introducing new items to sale). They are needed, but they should be more flexible, temporal, and more quickly created.
  2. Mission statements are different. They deal with unchangeable values. 

Have one mission statement that defines your values and desires outcomes. Then, create multiple vision statements as time and projects dictate.

5 STAGES OF CULTURE CHANGE, The Beginning of Coaching for Safe Behaviors

“We can change culture, If we change behavior. If we change behavior, we eliminate incidents”

Denis Baker

We are all in a position of power—a manager, a team leader, or someone who has the ear of a leader—we can effect change.

Culture has a significant impact on everything from safety to employee engagement to productivity. In addition, it gives people a sense of belonging and self-worth in their workplace.

However, the stark reality is that organizational culture is a complex web of relationships, and as those relationships change and shift over time, everyone must embrace change. This will serve to maintain any positive change that has been affected and continue along a productive path. The ability to eliminate unsafe behaviors is determined by the quality of relationships we have with people. Regardless of your position or title, you are in the place of growing, developing, and improving people. And those people are relying on you to train, communicate, and coach them to perform their jobs or tasks safely. 

Coaching is a skill that every safety professional and leader must master. The implementation and integration of behavioral change is a crucial aspect of achieving a sustainable safety culture. 

Coaching facilitates a culture transition through the stages of behavior change to achieve safe habits. Effective behavioral change requires that we identify what we are changing, why we are changing it, how we change it, and then create a strong plan of action to maintain effectiveness.  

In this blog series, I will focus on creating a culture change through individual behaviors.

WHAT IS BEHAVIOR CHANGE?

Before we get too deep into how to change a culture, let me identify what behavior change is. Behavior change refers to the “transformation or modification of human behavior,” with a new or altered safe behavior being the end-point.

“To change a habit, make a conscious decision, then act out the new behavior.”

Maxwell Maltz

I have identified five stages to achieve culture change. However, the process of implementing and maintaining change seems to be a spiral rather than a straight line. I have found that most people regress in the beginning stages, so constant and consistent coaching is required.

5 STAGES OF CULTURE CHANGE

Throughout my career, I focused my expertise on changing culture and ultimately changing behaviors. As a safety professional, when you first start at a company or facility, you must become familiar with the current culture, identify areas of concern, and identify a strategic improvement plan. Safety professionals play an integral role in a company or facility culture change. Therefore, you must be accurate in your evaluation and plan.

To get there, I have outlined the Five (5) stages to change a culture. While every company and facility is different, the culture change process is still the same. By following these five stages, you will help to ensure an actual culture change.

Setting the foundation

Before behaviors can be changed, organizations must identify the areas of focus needed to understand why the current behaviors exist. These areas typically include; missing policies or procedures, lack of training, leadership failure, et. Still, they may also be in the pre-contemplation, action, or maintenance stages. The current safety position is generally determined through active observations, listening, curiosity, and asking open questions. This knowledge will contribute to developing the organization’s safety strategic plan and creating the required coaching journey.

Contemplation

In the contemplation stage, the organization is “aware of existing safety issues and is creating a plan to address the issues, but has not committed to taking action. This stage can last for a long time as organizations struggle with dysfunctional employee behavior and the amount of effort, energy, and cost to create, change and implement programs and training. In the contemplation stage, the mindset of “We may” change or implement generally creates a delay in the path forward. 

Preparation

This stage combines intention and behavioral criteria. For example, an organization in the preparation stage may have reduced some unsafe behaviors but have not reached the criteria for sustainable, effective behaviors. They can be considered to be in the mindset of “We will.” Their intention and motivation are firm, and they plan to implement their change plan within a short period. 

Within this stage, the leadership will brainstorm possible approaches and solutions. Successful behavioral change requires identifying the right approach and protecting our upcoming changes from distractions and conflicting goals. Anticipation, planning, and engagement are crucial for maintaining safe behaviors. 

Action

Now the organization is committed to implementing programs and conducting training to begin the behavior change process. Organizations in the action stage are considered to be in the “I am” mindset and consistently implement their new behavior expectations. When clients are in this stage, they are likely to achieve fewer incidents and experience more robust safe behaviors. In addition, the Behavior Coaching Process (discussed in a later blog post) will result in even fewer incidents and help ensure consistent safe behaviors. 

However, once the action stage is entirely in progress, there becomes a risk of complacency and a focus on production, which causes employees to fall back into exhibiting unsafe behaviors. Keep in mind that the initiation of programs and training will be efficient, but the failure to be persistent in the expectations can create a culture backflow. 

Maintenance

In this stage, we want to continuously improve to prevent relapse, consolidate the gains attained during the past efforts, and increase safe behaviors. In my experience, this stage typically comes into play around 18-24 months. Cultures in the maintenance stage are considered in the “I still am” mindset and are considered to be in this stage when the new behavior becomes a habit. While in the maintenance stage, leadership and safety professionals are generally confident they can maintain the improved behaviors. However, they must be diligent in maintaining this change. There will be challenges and concerns. However, if the leadership has built an engaging culture, it doesn’t generally present a significant risk and can often get back on track and even create more robust, safe behaviors.

CONCLUSION

Many of us have behaviors we would like to change. Understanding the stages of change and applying each one effectively and timeously will support a meaningful, sustainable, and, ultimately, empowering behavior change, resulting in improved safe behavior and fewer employees getting injured. My next blog will focus on effectively coaching leadership and employees to change behaviors through their mindset.

Remember, our actions determine the result!

“A change in bad habits leads to a change in life.”

Jenny Craig

Denis is an Executive Director at the John Maxwell Group, is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior, Consultant. Denis is currently the Director of Health & Safety for Ferguson Enterprises. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique, passionate, and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader. 

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture training, DISC Behavioral consulting, or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

3 CORES OF SELF-LEADERSHIP

“If you wouldn’t follow yourself, why would anyone else?”

John C. Maxwell

LEADERS ARE PASSIONATE TO LEAD!

But when we say we “are passionate” to lead, we usually mean we are passionate to lead others.

One thing leaders need to realize is that leadership begins with you. If you can’t lead yourself, you can’t lead others.

Why is leading myself more difficult than leading others? Why do I say or do things I know are wrong (there is a biblical reference here)? It happens at home, at work, with my wife, co-workers, and those I love and lead. So while I speak of myself, I am sure I’m not alone. 

The answer is simple. 

I believe there are times I don’t see myself from a realistic point. I see myself from my intentions, and others see me through my actions and words. I should probably also admit that I see my intentions from the training and talks I give.

Self-leadership is defined as “the process of influencing one’s self to establish the self-direction and self-motivation needed to perform.

Self-leadership is the foundation for leadership, but unfortunately, it’s not the fun part. On the contrary, it’s most challenging. Still, self-leadership is the hard work behind the scenes that prepares you for exceptional leadership. 

Tough Truths About Self-Leadership

Before we dive into some ways to lead ourselves, let me share a few more tough truths about self-leadership.

  • No one cares more about your personal development than you do
  • You can’t wait for someone to lead you
  • No one owes you leadership
  • No one is responsible for your leadership development

3 CORES of Self-Leadership 

Here are what I believe are the cores of developing self-leadership.

Character

Who are YOU when no one is looking? 

  • It requires YOUR attention to how you act and react
  • It means expecting more from YOURSELF than others do
  • It means exceeding everyone’s expectations

The question to ask YOURSELF, “What qualities do you want to be accurate within your character? 

Discipline

Don’t talk about it, do it!

  • Identify what needs to change
  • Take the initiative.
  • Read voraciously. Explore what others think
  • Be a lifelong learner, and be passionate about it.
  • Surround yourself with mentors and people more intelligent than you.

The question to ask YOURSELF, “What are the three things I can do to improve my personal and professional growth?” 

Self-awareness

  • Know your strengths & weaknesses
  • Seek coaching 
  • Identify mentors
  • Constantly evaluate what you need to “own” (good or bad) in every situation

The question to ask YOURSELF, “Where do my choices take me?”

So What, Now What

As leaders, we must never forget to self-manage our actions. Whether it is a situation or a person, we react results from our leadership frame of mind. 

Failure to manage your self-leadership will create a loss of respect and the inability to influence, causing people to leave and follow others. On the other hand, if you lead yourself correctly, you will influence others, and they will follow. 

“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”

John Wooden

Take the time to evaluate your self-leadership, focusing on these 3 CORES. Then establish a process where you consistently work to apply these principles and improve.

Jim Rhone once said, 

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor but without folly.”

 If you can take hold of this, you will be an effective leader. 

Denis is an Executive Director at the John Maxwell Group, is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior, Consultant. Denis is currently the Director of Health & Safety for Ferguson Enterprises. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique, passionate, and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader. 

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture training, DISC Behavioral consulting, or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

HOW TO BUILD YOUR LEADERSHIP WITH INTEGRITY

The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower

You don’t need to read much to realize that leaders focus intensely on their reputations. 

When companies conduct surveys and or assessments, most employees rate integrity as the essential leadership trait. A more significant percentage of employees considered it the top quality of an executive and people managers. 

Having integrity generates respect and trust. People want to work for ethical people; we all know that if our leader acts with integrity, they will treat them right and do what’s best for the business and the people.

Leaders with integrity will strengthen the business and increase employee morale. In addition, companies with strong, ethical leadership teams enhance their ability to attract investors, customers, and talented people. However, integrity begins at the top and works its way through the organization to create a culture that values integrity.

Leaders need to realize their words, actions, decisions, and methodologies help create their actual values and culture. How we approach actions and what we do and say is particularly crucial for leaders. We must be people of integrity. Everyone is watching how we respond to business and personal situations. We either draw people to our influence, or we repel them with our lack of integrity.

To build your leadership, you must incorporate the TRUTH into YOUR integrity. 

“Integrity is telling the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people”

Spencer Johnson

To accomplish this, you must make these four commitments;

  1. Speak the truth plainlyBe honest, and treat people well. Don’t exaggerate successes, and be quick to praise others’ contributions. As a leader,  YOUR word should stand on its own. 
  2. Share the truth completelyLying is when you intentionally mislead others by either falsifying or concealing information. Half the truth is a whole lie. There are situations we need to have hard yet honest conversations with our employees. If we back from these conversations, we can’t say we are a leader of integrity. I am consistently tempted to hold back the truth because I don’t want to deal with the consequences. But after 30+ years of leadership, I’ve learned this always backfires. In the end, people respect honesty. Truth often hurts, but dishonesty leaves lasting scars.
  3. Use the truth tactfullyTo build a culture of integrity, behaviors change faster when people know the truth is wrapped in care. Truth without love is always seen as an attack. Without showing care, all of our actions mean nothing. If you don’t care for the people you’re sharing the truth with, stop sharing it. Your truth-telling will never produce lasting results. If you’re trying to get something off your chest, you’re not speaking in respect. Just because you’re willing to share the truth doesn’t mean the other person is ready to hear it. The solution to any conflict is not deception; it’s tact. You can use your words to heal or hurt, make a point or make an enemy. Leaders also need to hold themselves accountable. They must treat everyone fairly, regardless of a person’s standing in the organization.
  4. Live the truth consistentlyIntegrity isn’t being honest 80 percent of the time. Partial honesty is dishonesty. Integrity is a requirement for leadership because all leadership is based on trust. If people don’t trust you, you can’t lead them. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable with your staff. If you make a mistake, say so and do all you can to fix it. Your employees don’t expect you to be perfect, and you will alienate them if you cannot admit fault when things go wrong.

SO WHAT, NOW WHAT

“The time is always right to do what is right”

Martin Luther King

As I constantly think about increasing my leadership and influence, I try to maintain strong integrity. Am I always successful? NO, but my heart desires to lead people with integrity, influence, and skill.

Take the time to consider these four commitments and take action where necessary. Together, we can change the world!

Denis is an Executive Director at the John Maxwell Group, is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior, Consultant. Denis is currently the Director of Health & Safety for Ferguson Enterprises. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique, passionate, and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader. 

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture training, DISC Behavioral consulting, or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.