Two Questions to Increase Active Care and Improve your Safety Culture
By Eric Michrowski
Active care is one of the most critical safety leadership competencies. While most leaders care about their team members’ wellbeing, they often fail to fully reflect this care in their actions. Leaders are busy and have to juggle many tasks and decisions competing for their attention at all times, but the importance of active care should not be swept aside. In fact, research shows that when employees feel genuinely cared for by their management, they demonstrate less risk-taking behavior and have less physical health complaints.
Actively caring means showing personal concern and respect for employees on an individual level. When you form personal, deep-rooted relationships with your team members, employees demonstrate more discretionary effort and are more likely to go above and beyond expectations to keep themselves and their coworkers safe. Demonstrating active care is therefore vital to fostering a safe, happy workplace.
Active care encourages safety.
During one of my client engagements, I worked with a team responsible for a mine shaft. In workshops, I heard two dramatically opposed stories. One leader kept barking orders, telling people how to do their work, and complaining about what employees were not doing. The other leader knew every member on his team and stayed up to date on how their loved ones were doing. Both leaders achieved results to a certain extent, but it was apparent that the two contrasting leadership approaches led to very different employee experiences. Guess whose team was more successful when it comes to safety?
Effective Active Care Questions
In my last blog post, I presented two effective questions to incite quality safety observations. Asking questions and actively listening are equally important when it comes to demonstrating active care. By having regular conversations on themes such as personal motivations for staying safe, leaders can drive shifts in thinking and behavior.
Here are two questions to increase active care, which can help leaders put a somewhat intangible leadership competency into practice:
– What new information did you learn this week about a team member on your team, particularly as it pertains to their personal ‘why’ for staying safe?
– What was your favorite safety recognition that you gave one of your team members this week? What was special about the acts that you recognized?
These questions are designed to forge deeper connections between your leaders and their team members. They allow you to assess your supervisors’ active care, understand which leaders might require additional support to develop their active care, and ensure that care is always at the forefront of work relationships within your organization.
By having these conversations on a regular basis and actively listening to what your team members have to say, you can create a caring work environment and increase discretionary effort and safety.
Read more from this blog series: Two Questions to improve the quality of Safety Observations