Motivational Safety Speaker Blog

Accidents Aren’t Trick or Treat and Don’t Blame Your Workers!

More than 30 years ago, one of my mentors in the graduate safety program at West Virginia University provided an insight that I continue to embrace.  It guides much of my thinking and my actions, still today.  C. Everett Marcum, often espoused his foundational belief regarding accidents, which was, “Accidents are signs and symptoms of management’s failure, to deal as effectively as needed, with its resources.” By extension, it stands to reason that organizational leaders must create the right climate and culture for people to work efficiently, effectively, and safely.  And it’s up to leaders to determine how much risk

Read more

Do Your Leaders Have a Purposeful Presence?

Dear Friend and Colleague, Many of you likely have a well written vision statement for safety or at least some form of it. However, is that vision regularly expressed through your senior leaders?  The most important aspects of your vision occur through the expression and execution of that vision by your senior leaders and their subordinates.  Having a substantial budget that supports your various programs, processes, and system-wide improvements is critically important, is it not?  And it captures a great deal of safety alignment, execution, and improvement, right?  But is that enough? Even if we throw lots of money at

Read more

Leadership Lessons from Undercover Boss

I really love the reality show Undercover Boss but I have to watch it alone because I often become a little weepy!  I’ve gotten much softer with age.  You probably know what generally happens in each show.  A company executive plants himself in his own organization in order to find out what’s really happening and to make improvements.  He works side-by-side with individuals who perform some of the most difficult, demanding, and dirty jobs in the company. After a short period of time, the undercover boss gets to know people in very personal ways and also finds out first-hand about

Read more

Roller Coaster Ride or Steady Ascent: What Does Trust Look Like in Your Organization?

Last weekend, I was riding my bicycle up a 16 mile grade near Morgantown, West Virginia.  It was a long but relatively easy ride.  During my trek, I began to think about organizational trust.  At times, the level of trust that organizational leaders possess, relative to safety, is only as good as their last day, or even their last job.  You see, trust is very fluid—it changes.  Levels of trust can move up or down—but more often than not, great leaders help to ensure that trust-based undulations are minimized and respectfully safeguarded. Trust is often a two-way exchange, for both

Read more

Pizza or Power?

I’ve been in safety for a long time — almost embarrassed to state how long.  Well, not really.  But I do have to say, I’ve been to enough “pizza parties” for various safety accomplishments.  And just about everyone enjoys pizza and time spent together, but what your people really want is power — not pizza.  They want the safety-related power that’s needed to do something big — much bigger than themselves.  This often requires that people get involved with others to reach the next big and challenging milestone.  But don’t stop there, unleash the power of your people by building teams and training

Read more

Cognitive Failures Don’t Need to be Fatal!

Cognitive failures are often known as action slips, brain burps, slips in attention – mistakes that a person should not normally make (Wallace & Vodanovich, 2003).  These occur as a result of faulty processes in our brain such as a lapse in attention (failures in perception), memory (information retrieval), and motor function. Cognitive failures may be as simple as forgetting to lock the office door when heading home or as complex as an air traffic controller overlooking an inbound airplane.  Some of which can be quite serious, as you can imagine. Cognitive failures commonly found at the worker level, may

Read more

Safety’s Most Easily Forgotten and Most Fundamental Cultural Dimension

I don’t believe this dimension gets the ongoing scrutiny and attention it deserves.  And this dimension is so basic, so fundamental, and so familiar; it can easily get overlooked, and create big problems that relate directly to safety, productivity, and morale.  The importance often slips and slides so insidiously, so imperceptibly, and so gradually, that it gets away from our notice much too painlessly.  That is, until the pain, and push-back from our workers is heard more loudly and disruptively. One of the more disturbing findings that leaders often read about when I complete a safety climate survey and conduct

Read more

How to Get Back Your Bark for Safety!

This past weekend, I was working out in a local park when I crossed the path of a large dog being walked by two individuals. Initially, the dog concerned me because he was so large and near to me.  As I continued to look, the dog was old, gray, and hobbled.  And as I passed even closer, he turned, stared, and snarled, but I soon lost my fear.  You see, I realized this dog had no fight left – not even a bark – not even a whimper!  I was saddened – I love dogs. How many of you have

Read more

Five Dimensions that Build or Erode Safety-Related Trust

Trust is a two-way exchange, for leaders and followers.  But let’s focus on trust from a leadership perspective.  For me, trust is largely about believing that a leader will do what is best for his followers or group.  In our context, trust is about doing what’s right to keep others safe, especially when they are vulnerable to a given risk and the potential for injuries. But we have to understand that trust is a multi-dimensional facet of leadership which can be built or eroded along various dimensions through: Competence pertaining to a job – overall knowledge, skill and ability Integrity

Read more

Great Safety Performance Requires Great Teammates

I lost a very good friend last week, Fulton Walker.  Fulton was a teammate at West Virginia University and later played for the Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders.  He set a couple of longstanding Super Bowl records and I‘ve written about him in the past to highlight various aspects of leadership and teamwork. Any significant loss of humanity stirs emotions and thoughts that cause us to reflect.  I’ve reflected on many aspects of Fulton’s personality over the last few days.  His soft and warm personality endeared him to many.  And now, I want to reflect more specifically on the qualities

Read more