Do You Feel Like You Don’t Have Management Support for Safety?
It’s not just you. Many safety professionals feel this way. That is why many feel so frustrated that they quit their job to search for a different career. And it saddens me to see these potential safety leaders leave this profession.
But why does this happen? Why do many safety professionals feel this way? And are there ways how to overcome this problem? Well, let’s talk about this further below.
Why You Feel That Way
There are two main reasons why you feel that you don’t have management support.
The first one is the difference in expectations. However you might feel, the truth is that the management team supports safety because you’ve been hired. They hired you because they want to have safety in the company.
However, this is where the start of the expectations differ. You see, they hired you because they think that you’ll take care of everything related to safety.
Meaning they think that they don’t have any role in it. That it’s enough to show support by allowing you to propose needed changes and giving you the authority to implement them once approved. And that’s because aside from safety, they also handle other departments like manufacturing, sales, human resources, and so on.
But, as a safety professional, you expect them to give you proper support. Meaning that you understand that the management team has an important role to play in the implementation of safety policies and the development of a great safety culture.
The second reason why you feel like you don’t have proper management support is that, as a safety professional, you see safety differently, which means that you see risks that they don’t. And these risks that you see might not be a problem for the management team. Maybe due to their previous work experiences, personal beliefs, and so on.
Do you see now why you feel like you don’t have management support? Yes, it’s all about the difference in expectations and perspectives regarding safety risks.
Now, is there a way to get the support that you expect? Yes, let’s talk about it further.
What to Do About It
Proper communication is the key to solving this difference in expectations and perspectives. That is the only way to do it. So, it doesn’t help to say to yourself or others that you don’t have management support. Instead, find ways to communicate with them-understand their expectations, and let them know why their role is essential, and what specific help you need from them.
When communicating with the management team, keep it positive. Keep in mind that they also have other focuses in the company aside from safety. So, during conversations be patient with them, slowly convince them about your expected help, and help them see risks the way you do.
I know that it’s frustrating. But you can still do something to get the management support that you wanted. Do keep in mind that it’s not an abrupt change, and it might take some time to accomplish this. But it’s all worth it.
Now, if you need help communicating with the management team, and how to effectively convince them, then I encourage you to enroll in Safety Management Academy where I teach about ways how to do it. Although it’s already full, there will still be upcoming lessons.
Why You Think You Don't Have Management Support For Safety
Safety Brye: [00:00:00] One of the most common issues I hear from safety managers is, I don't have management support, or my management is just not on board, or they're just not helping. And when you believe that you don't have support, you actually create an environment that holds you back. From getting the support you want.
So let me explain.
Hey there, safety friends. Welcome to the Safety Geek Podcast. I'm Brye Sargent CSP and 20 year safety professional. After spending years training safety leaders across the globe for a large corporation and creating safety programs from the ground up over and over again, I am now sharing my processes and strategies with you.
At the Safety Geek, you will learn how to manage an effective safety program that increases your management, support, and employee engagement, all the while helping you elevate your position and
[00:01:00] move up in your career. If you're ready to step into the role of a safety influencer and leader, you're in the right place.
Let's get to it.
Hello. Hello. Hello, my safety friends. I am recording this just when the weather is starting to shift and it's starting to feel like the holidays, it is Thanksgiving week for those who celebrate. And how about you? Is your weather shifting? Does it kind of get you that like feeling of the holidays and decorating and just the season of joy and cheer.
We actually are lighting up our town square in a few days and my closet is starting to fill up with Christmas presents. So I'm just trying to get into more of that holiday spirit and that's what it feels like. So let me know, are you feeling it too? Hop on over to the Facebook page, leave a comment and let me know.
[00:02:00] What are you doing for the holidays. Now, enough about that cuz today, I wanna talk about management support and how the way you're thinking about it is probably holding you back. Now, I've talked about management support and why it is so important. I believe that was the last episode. And when safety improvements are tried, many would be safety leaders.
They tend to get stuck on this. They feel like they don't have support or that their management team won't help. Or worse, the management team agrees and nods and says, yep, sure, go ahead and do it. But then they don't do anything to help you successfully implement your safety improvement. And what ends up happening,
is those would be safety leaders they either leave the company and move on and say, look, that company's got a bad management culture. I am just moving on to another company.
[00:03:00] Or worst case, they leave the profession because I won't lie to you, my safety friend. This can be one of the most frustrating parts of the job.
Is that you are hired to improve safety, and when you actually are telling them what needs to be done to improve safety and to keep people safe, they basically sit on their hands so you don't make any progress. And then you're held accountable that you're not making progress, when in actuality they're just not supporting you the way that you would like.
The reason why so many give up is that they're blaming their management team and they're saying, well, the management team isn't supporting me. I'm just gonna move on, or I'm gonna try something different. Instead of looking like at what they could be doing wrong or what they could be doing differently, and this is a hard truth to swallow.
So as I get into this topic today, what I want you to understand and
[00:04:00] truly believe, Is that you already have management support for safety. You have 100% your management team support safety no matter what you think about it. Right now, they do support safety. Anybody that has been hired in the safety field has management support for safety.
The problem is their definition of support is completely different than your definition of support. You see, we live and breathe safety. It is our only responsibility is to just guide safe work practices, to correct things when things go wrong, to constantly improve safety. That is our responsibility, but the people that we're asking support from their responsibility is everything.
You know, we think that we have a lot on our plates. They have just as much on
[00:05:00] their plates. You know, they have to juggle production and quality and safety and hr possibly IT issues the CFO breathing down their neck about expenses, their boss bringing in more and more sales. So just as we have a ton of balls up in the air, or plates spinning, however you wanna put it, they have just as much.
And we have one focus. They have multiple focuses. So when it comes to supporting safety, they actually think that they already are supporting safety by giving you the reins to run with it by saying, yes, I agree with that problem. Fix it. Yes, go change it. They don't see their role in that implementation.
They hired you, they're working with you. That is how they support safety. That is their way of supporting safety, because I
[00:06:00] truly believe that there is no manager out there that would say that their widgets or whatever it is they're making is more important than someone's life, that it's worth somebody getting seriously injured to make that, you know, little widget or whatever it is.
Nobody would say that. It's just they don't see risk the same way as you see risk. So you have to look at your management team like you would employees. So when we are trying to get employees to understand the risk of their behaviors, we have to do the same thing with our management team because they are judging the risks in the workplace based on their personal upbringing, their personal culture.
Their knowledge and their experience, and they've likely done the job that they're managing before because a lot of our management teams are brought into those roles just like we are. They are brought
[00:07:00] up from probably production or some other role within the company, so they've done that job before and the risks that you see, they don't see as problematic.
So you have to treat your management team just like you would when you're trying to change an employee's version of that risk assessment. You have to do the same with your management team. When they put on their management hat, their beliefs that they came into their position with, they just don't change.
You know, if they have a certain belief about the risk of something, they're not gonna change it just because they have their management hat on. They are coming into the workplace with the same risk assessment mindset that they've always had. So if they're the type of person that when they're using power tools in their garage at home and they don't have any PPE, they likely don't expect their employees to wear it either, right?
So you still have to change their hearts and minds as
[00:08:00] well. And we think that they should already prioritize safety, that they're a manager just like we are. We prioritize safety. They should prioritize safety. But they don't. You have to show them how to assess the risk of the situation. You have to influence them to change their beliefs.
One way to identify the gap, because there is a gap between what the managers believe is support for safety, and what you believe is a support for safety, is to have conversations with them about their expectations. So sit down with them and just say, Hey, I just wanna talk to you about my role, what you expect out of it, where you see your responsibilities are, just so that way we can all be on the same table, right?
We all understand the same thing. So ask them questions about like, what do they expect you to do and how do they feel that they are currently supporting safety?
[00:09:00] And what do they see as their responsibilities? And have this conversation with every member of your management team. Now, what I like to do is also talk to employees about this too, and create a whole Venn diagram and all that good stuff.
I know I have a training on that in my member's fault somewhere, but definitely that is something that I like to do. Once you have asked them these questions, then turn around and ask yourself these same questions. Because what you'll find is how they feel that they're supporting safety is way different than what you expect out of them, and that's okay.
Doing this exercise is actually going to help you identify areas for improvement. One, you will likely see that you do have some support, so if you're thinking you have no support or they will never support safety, you likely have some support and this will actually help you visualize that support. And number
[00:10:00] two, it helps you identify where you can start influencing change.
So let's say that you expect your management team to be coaching on safety daily, and three of the managers said the same thing, but four of the managers didn't. Right? So that might be an area that I just need to influence for people to change their belief on. As opposed to picking an area of like action plans should be managed by safety versus action plans should be managed by the management team.
You know, maybe they believe you should be in charge of all safety improvements and you believe it should be a joint effort. And if everybody is far apart on those things, then that might be an area you work on in the future. So always work on the areas where there is some consensus and just try to sway it into a hundred percent consensus.
And then you work on the next thing and the next thing. Because what you have to realize is
[00:11:00] that you're not there to manage safety. You are there to be a safety influencer, to be the subject matter expert, the guide on the side, and to help the management team make the right decisions. And to understand their responsibilities when it comes to safety and to help bring the goals of the company to fruition.
And those goals could be sales related, they could be money related, they could be injury related, all of them. But it's, that is your job is to influence more than manage. So I want you to stop saying that you don't have support for safety. And instead of saying, I don't have management support, or my management team won't support this, what I want you to start saying is that you don't have the support that you would like yet, because the moment that you change that verbiage, your
[00:12:00] brain clicks into how can we get that support?
Instead of like, Nope, it's done not getting it. We don't have support. But instead of like, Hey, we don't have the support that we would like, so your brain is automatically like, well, hmm, what would we like? Right? Which you already know cuz you answered those questions. And then you can say, how are we gonna get that support?
You know, ask yourself, what are you going to do about it? Instead of just accepting it and then maybe giving up, because I hate to see people leave the profession because of this. I've actually seen several posts on Facebook like this where people are like, I'm done with safety. It's so frustrating. It's ridiculous that, you know, they want us to improve safety.
We tell them what they're supposed to do, and then they don't do it, and then they hold us accountable. I see this all the time, but instead of thinking like, Well, it's all about them. You can say, well, what am I gonna do about it?
[00:13:00] You know? And in Safety Management Academy, I do actually teach my safety influencer system by creating systems and processes that will organically improve your management support and your safety culture.
So that's definitely something to check out. I know that open enrollment just closed, but if you wanna be the first to be notified when it opens up again. Then make sure that you go to thesafetygeek.com/sma to get on the wait list. But while you're waiting on that wait list, so patiently thank you. Start identifying those gaps between what the management team believes, how they support safety, and what their responsibilities are to what you believe, and identify the one area that is close enough
to a consensus that you can start influencing and see yourself not as a safety manager, but as a safety influencer.
[00:14:00] That's all I got for you this week. I will chat again with you next week. And in the meantime, have a Happy Thanksgiving. Bye for now.
Hey, if you're just getting started in safety or you've been at this for a while and are hitting a roadblock, then I wanna invite you to check out Safety Management Academy. This is my in depth online course that not only teaches you the processes and strategies of an effective safety management program, but how to entwine
management support and employee participation throughout your processes. Are you ready to finally understand exactly what you should be doing and ditch that safety police hat forever? Then you have got to join me and your fellow safety scholars over at Safety Management Academy. Just go to thesafetygeek.com/sma to learn more and to get started.
[00:15:00] That's thesafetygeek.com/sma and I will see you in our next students only live session. Bye for now.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.
Highlights From This Episode:
- Why Thinking of not Getting Management Support Holds Back Safety Managers
- Anyone Hired in the Safety Field Has Management Support for Safety
- How to Shift Management Team’s Expectations to Safety
- Safety Managers and Management Team Have Different Definitions of Support
- Management Team Support Safety in Their Own Way
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
Stop saying you don’t have support
Start saying you don’t have the support you would like to have.
Then ask yourself – what are you going to do about it?
In safety management academy, I teach my Safety Influencer System, by creating systems and processes that organically improve management support and safety culture.
Open enrollment just closed, but if you want to be the first notified when it opens again, go to TheSafetyGeek.com/sma to get on the waitlist
And while you’re waiting, identify the gaps you need to work on.
Hi, I'm Brye (rhymes with sky)! I am a self-proclaimed safety geek with two decades of general industry safety experience. Specializing in bringing safety programs to a world-class level and building a safety culture, I have trained and coached many safety managers, just like you, on how to effectively manage workplace safety in the real world. I would love to help you too.