Why It’s Essential to Get Management Support

Let’s be honest, getting management support is not easy. In fact, it’s so hard that many safety professionals leave their companies and even the profession over it. You likely focus a lot of time convincing the management team in your company to give you the necessary support.

This begs the question, is it all worth it? Yes. Let’s talk about two of the most important reasons why.

It Determines the Success of Your Programs

Whether you accept it or not, the level of management support is the biggest factor that determines the success of your safety programs. Without their support, it’ll be hard to implement policies, get employees to follow safety procedures, meet safety compliances, and develop that safety culture.

But if you have management support, if you’re already the coach of the coaches role, then everything becomes easy.

Why? Because if safety is already considered in all the business decisions, then it will trickle down to all of the employees. Meaning that once the employees see that safety is important to the management team, they’ll also adopt and imitate that mindset. Making your job as a safety professional, easy.

It’s The Most Efficient Method

Many “experts” in the field of safety will tell you that if you don’t have that management support, you should start with the employees. That you should work your way from the bottom to the top. And once the management team notices that employees have a safety culture, they will also adopt it.

Sounds like a good idea right? However, let me drop you the truth bomb-it’s a big waste of time and effort.

Most of the time it doesn’t work. Why? Because the culture of a company doesn’t start from the bottom.

To fully understand this, let’s define company culture first.

Company culture is the set of goals, mission, and vision of the company. And in a company, who decides the goals, mission, and vision? The leaders, not the employees.

That is why if an employee doesn’t agree with the culture, then they’ll either resign from the company or be removed.

The point is that leaders usually won’t adopt the culture of the employees. It’s the other way around. So, now do you see why starting from the bottom is a pointless endeavor?

Take Action

I know, getting management support is difficult. I struggled with that as well when I was just starting out in my safety career. But it’s worth it, because getting support from management ensures the success of your programs and the development of a good safety culture.

Why Management Support is So Vital to a Safety Program

Safety Brye: [00:00:00] One thing that you will hear a lot when you get into safety management is that you need management support, or I don't have management support, or if I had a magic wand, I would magically get management support. In fact, when I survey my audience and ask what they need help with the most, the number one answer is always management support.

So if you're new to safety and you're hearing this buzz phrase, let me tell you exactly why management support is so crucial to your safety program. Let's get to it.

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

[00:01:00] 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 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.

Well, hey there, safety friend. How are you doing today? We are full blown fall here in Florida. , can you believe that it is the middle of November already and the holidays are just around the corner. I swear it feels like yesterday that I was just making my 2022 goals for the year, and now it's time to start thinking about the 2023 goals. It is crazy how quick time goes by

[00:02:00] and I would be willing to bet. That when you're thinking about your goals for the next year, improving management support is going to be on that list somewhere. Maybe not where you're sharing it with your team, but in the back of your mind, I bet you're thinking I need to somehow work on my management support.

Why? Because this is the one area that so many people struggle with. That's how I know that you're thinking about it, so much so that when I was creating the Safety Geek and I was creating Safety Management Academy, it is one of the main focuses of the program is to help safety managers like you understand and improve their management support and employee engagement.

But today what I wanted to talk about was why it is so important that you actually have management support. Now the level of management support you have

[00:03:00] actually determines the success of your program. Every single person with safety responsibilities, regardless of who you are, whether you are a full-time safety specialist, or maybe you're just a safety employee, maybe you're safety director, maybe you're an HR manager who's got safety responsibilities.

Every single one of you have some level of management support. If you didn't, you wouldn't have ever been hired. They understand that safety is essential for what they're doing, but the problem is is that you don't have the support that you want or that you need, and you know this because this is how you can actually tell that you don't have the support that you need is because making safety improvements or meeting compliance requirements actually is difficult.

It's hard to move the needle on your injury numbers. It is hard to get programs and policies out there. It is hard to

[00:04:00] change what they have always been doing, and many times when people don't have management support, what they'll do is like they have to get this program out. The management team isn't enforcing it, so then they start to focus on the employee.

And what'll happen is that instead of working on their program from the top down, from the management team down, they decide to go from the bottom up from the employees and hopefully the employee's behavior will trigger the management team to change as well. In fact, there are many safety experts that will tell you to do this, that if you don't have management support, then just work on the employees and eventually management support will come.

And hypothetically, it sounds like a good idea, right? You get the employees to work safe, You start working with the employees and their behavior. You start working on their why and trying to get them to understand why it's important for them to work safely, and

[00:05:00] that they will then start to follow the safety policies by their own choice, and management will eventually see the benefits and then they will change their ways.

The problem is, even though this sounds like a good plan, it doesn't work 99% of the time. And when it does work, it takes way too long. We don't have years and years to change our safety culture and to change our management support, and that's what it comes down to, right? Is that, how your culture is created at your work and the authority hierarchy in your organization is what creates management support.

So let's talk about culture for a second. Culture is another big buzzword, right? You hear it a lot. What culture is, and what I really like to just bear it down, right, is that culture is common goals, beliefs, values, and

[00:06:00] attitude. Now, you see this within groups of people, right? Maybe people that live in the same neighborhood, maybe people of the same ethnic background, maybe people of the same country, right?

You'll get culture that way. But the buzzword that's out there is creating a business culture, right? And people will say, safety culture. You've heard me say it as well. I'm not gonna deny that. What safety culture is, is your business culture. That includes safety. You can't have a separate safety culture.

So when we're talking about management support, it really comes down to this culture that is within your organization. And your culture is set by leadership. There is no choice in that matter because it is leadership that is your decision makers. They are setting the goals for the organization. They set the priorities.

It is their values that are reflected in the decisions. So because leadership is setting the culture for the entire

[00:07:00] organization, that's gonna then trickle down to the employees because they have authority over their staff. So if someone isn't following their lead, right? So like in my organization, my culture is one way, and if I have an employee that's just not following my lead, like I believe in customer support.

I believe in reaching out to my students, right? I believe in being there and answering all the questions that come in. If I have a team member that doesn't believe that same thing, they're not gonna last long on my team. Right? So it's the same thing in your organization. If it's going against the leadership's values, they're not gonna last long because they don't really mesh up.

And it's really interesting when you see organizations and as leadership changes, then the management team changes to match that leadership's values. So as much as we like to say that we can change culture, we actually can't do it without management support. So this is

[00:08:00] why management support is so crucial to your safety program. When you have the management team on board for your safety policies, your programs, your procedures, your improvement,

it makes everything you're trying to do way easier to implement, and you'll actually get results because it's being implemented correctly. Their authority will cause this ripple effect. So your executive team, their authority is just gonna cause this ripple effect throughout your organization. So it stops being, well, what safety says that we should do, and it starts being what the team expects, or what the team approved, or what the team decided.

Because your safety improvements, your procedures, your policies, they're all being supported from the top down. They've approved it, they've agreed with it, and then from the top down, it gets supported and then the culture starts to change to include safety.

[00:09:00] So this transition is amazing to watch, especially when safety starts being considered in all the business decisions.

And to do that, you need to understand in order to make sure that safety is talked about in all the business decisions, you need to understand how to communicate the value that safety provides to the organization. And that's a whole other topic I'm not gonna get into here. It's actually an entire lesson or to inside a safety management academy.

And I plan on doing an intensive on it in the spring or summer as well. Anyway, going back to culture, when you think about it, the current safety culture that you have in your organization is a direct reflection of your management support. So you can't have an amazing culture and poor management support.

You can't have great management support and a poor safety culture, so they go hand in hand with each other. So how you change this, right?

[00:10:00] Because you do need to get management support. Is to stop focusing on changing the hearts and minds of employees. Stop the bottom up approach. And I know what some people try to do.

They have a top down approach getting with the management team down, and then they also work a bottom up approach at the same time. Honestly, the bottom up approach is a complete waste of your time. So for you to be the most effective, you need to start working on your management team. If you are spending more than 80% of your time training, coaching, and observing employees, then you likely don't have the management support that you need to succeed because you haven't stepped into the role of the coach of the coaches yet.

You're still doing the work. You're still coaching the players when really it is the coach that coaches the players,

[00:11:00] you coach the supervisors. We have a previous episode on this and I will link to it in the show notes or somebody will hopefully and, and I know what you're thinking right now, As I'm saying this is like 80% of your time is being spent training, coaching, and observing employees.

And you're like, I get it Brye, I should be spending more time with my management team. I get it. I should be working more on culture and changing the hearts and minds of the management team, but my management team doesn't get it. My management team expects me to be there 80% of the time, coaching and observing employees.

But here's the thing, if they expect that right now, that's fine. What are you doing to change it? Because if you keep doing the same things that you've been doing, you're gonna keep getting the same results and how you are currently communicating with your management team. If it isn't giving the results that you need, then you need to change it up.

You need to change your communication style. You need to

[00:12:00] change your strategy or your approach, not with the employees, with the management team. And this is the thing that I work with my clients all the time, is I give them one idea and does it work? Yes? No? If that's a no, then we try something else. Does it work?

Yes. No. If it's a no, we try something else. Every person is different. Every person has a different communication style. They have different motivations. You have to figure out how to win over the hearts and minds of the management team. Right. And when you say like literally pry, I've tried everything. I just say, have you really?

Cause too often we wanna blame other people. We wanna blame them for not supporting safety, but maybe it's us. Maybe we have not communicated it properly. Maybe they do not see the value we provide because we don't know how to express that value. And in Safety Management Academy, I help you implement strategies and

[00:13:00] tactics that actually organically shift management support.

And when this episode is coming out, at least when it's scheduled to come out. We should be in an open enrollment period for Safety Management Academy. So if you're struggling with this management support piece or you're struggling with the employee engagement piece in your program, then I strongly recommend that you check out Safety Management Academy and there'll be a link in the show Note, if you are late listening to this episode, which I am guilty of that on a lot of the podcasts that I follow, if you missed the open enrollment for Safety Management Academy, then just get on the wait list.

I open it every several months so that way you can be notified the next time it is open. So to end today's episode, I just wanna recap and I wanna make sure that you understand why management support is so important, because without it, you will continue to put ideas out there where

[00:14:00] everyone is always nodding their head. And they're like, Yep, I agree. I agree. But when it comes time to enforce the change, they will tell you they don't have time. They can't afford to lose anyone, or they don't fully understand what you're trying to do. So it's time to change that, and it's time to make safety improvements. How your company does business with a team who is fully on board.

And that starts with you understanding why management support is so crucial. Now, over the next several episodes, I'm gonna dive into this deeper. We're gonna start talking about different approaches that you can take to get management support. And the six steps to get them to take action, as well as several other topics.

So if you are listening, please make sure that you subscribe to this podcast so you don't miss the future episodes. And if you've been a longtime listener, I have a favor to ask of you. If you can hop on over to iTunes or Spotify or

[00:15:00] wherever it is you listen to this podcast and shoot me a review and give me a rating, I would truly appreciate it.

It would help other people find this podcast and it will allow me to see if you like what I'm doing, so I would appreciate that. Alrighty, my safety friend. That is what I have for you this week. I will be in your ears next week, and you have an amazing week. 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?

[00:16:00] 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. That's thesafetygeek.com/sma and I will see you in our next Students only live session.

Bye for now.

Highlights From This Episode:

  • Why Management Support is Essential
  • How to Successfully Get the Support of Management Team
  • Your Current Safety Culture in the Workplace Affects Management Support
  • Effectively Express the Value of Safety
  • Stepped into the role of the Coach of the Coaches


I hope you understand why management support is so important. Without it, you will continue to put ideas out there where everyone nods their heads, but when it’s time to enforce the change, they will tell you they don’t have time, or they can’t afford to lose anyone, or they don’t fully understand what you’re trying to do.

It’s time to change that and make safety improvements how you do business with a team who’s fully on-board.

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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.

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