It’s not what, but who you know

file000912049364It has been some 20 years since I was in the dating scene. And I am sure that in that time things have changed. But some things must have stayed the same. Sometimes you are lucky enough to meet an interesting person. Someone that you would like to spend time with, see where it leads. This is where you have a few options. One is to try to impress them, dazzle them with your personality, wow them with your wit, show them how great you are, how clever you are, tell them all about yourself.  Another option is to try to get to know the other person, show interest in them. Get to know them better. I know which option worked best for me.

In some ways being a safety professional is no different. Have you ever had a great idea for safety improvement and pitched it to a management team? I have. I spent hours preparing a presentation. I provided background information, data and statistics, the legislative context. Slides and slides full of what I believed to be compelling information to make the workplace safer. I thought I had provided a sound business case and therefore my recommendation would be adopted. It turned out that the managers weren’t interested. I had failed. My mistake? Thinking that because my idea made safety sense that it would be a no-brainer for the managers.

Over time I have found an approach that has a better success rate. First I get to know the management team and what interests them.  The easiest way to get to know them is to ask them about their business strategy.

You should find that managers become quickly engaged in conversation when you ask them what is going on in their part of the business. Ask them about they want to achieve in the coming year. Show interest in their challenges. All the time thinking about how you can support them in being successful.

  • Are they planning on entering a new market? Find out who currently has market share. Who are the competitors? What is their approach to safety? Is there an industry accepted approach to safety management? Discuss what is expected from a new comer and what approach may be needed in regards to safety.
  • Do they want to increase employee numbers? Find out about the recruitment strategy. If the job market is tough talk about ways to differentiate the company in the employment market. Find out what are candidates interested in when it comes to a company’s approach to safety? Then discuss options for on boarding new employees in the area of safety.
  • Do they want to attract a new client? What is the client like? What is their approach to safety? Are they leaders, followers or somewhere in between? Discuss ways that your organisation may be able to differentiate itself when it comes to safety.

The above are just some ideas for conversation starters. I don’t know what is going on in the business that you support but hopefully you do. If not, maybe it is time to find out.

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