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 for the John Maxwell Group and is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behaviorial Consultant. Denis is a senior safety professional and a strong, passionate influential person. He is 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 firstname.lastname@example.org for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture training, DISC Behavioral consulting, or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.