The one sentence that can make or break your safety and risk management programs.

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Ever wonder why your safety and risk management policies don’t get the results you were looking for?    Why your IIPP just sits on a shelf?  Why your emergency plan doesn’t seem to work when you test it?  The answer is surprisingly simple and it can usually be corrected in one sentence.

It’s Not The Best If It Doesn’t Work

You may have paid thousands of dollars to hire the top expert in the field and they may have delivered a great looking product, but you’re still not getting the results.  We find this a lot, especially in schools.  Great plans are typically measured by their compliance with the various regulations they seek to satisfy – think Cal-OSHA, Ed. Code, etc.  However, these plans just don’t touch the hearts of your employees.  It’s not that the plans aren’t any good, it’s just that they have the wrong focus.

The Right Focus

Most safety and risk management professional have the wrong focus.  They fail to line up their policies and procedures with the organization’s mission.  This misalignment can create huge invisible divides between risk management and all the other staff.

Let me give you an example that you have probably seen in action a thousand times.  Most safety policies start off with a statement about purpose.  It goes something like this: “the purpose of this IIPP is to comply with OSHA.”  When I review plans, I read this statement aloud then I turn to the Superintendent and ask – “Is your school’s purpose to comply with OSHA or educate kids?”  That’s when we see the light bulb go on.

The Moment It Clicks

A simple change of focus can pay huge dividends in your safety and risk management program.  I call it the “moment it clicks” – it’s that little moment when an employee says to themselves – “yes, I get it – I am on board with this – I believe in this.” And getting to that moment is as simple as selling WHY you are doing this.

Sell The Why

Daniel Pink talks about this principle in his book “To Sell is Human” and Simon Sinek talks about this in his Ted Talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.”  Simon has a very useful graphic called the “Golden Circle” and he says you have to sell the “Why.”  Selling the Why is what great companies and leaders do.  They dig deep into their souls and tell you what they believe in.  They let you peek behind the curtain and show you how you can contribute to the bigger mission.  They focus on something bigger than you — a calling, a mission, a life long pursuit.  And when you believe in what great leaders believe in, then you tend to buy in.

Daniel Pink tells several stories in his book “To Sell is Human” about how a few extra simple words on signage could move people to be safer.  Changing the focus from “you” to the people that are vulnerable helps create that “moment it clicks.”  Think about hand washing.  If we changed our focus to not spreading disease and illness to kids instead of employees must wash their hands, we would see improvement in hand washing.  Mr. Pink’s cites the research that tested the theory.  The idea is that we are focusing on the “why” – keeping vulnerable kids safe.

Change Your Purpose And Change The World

Next time you are reading or writing safety and risk management policies, ask yourself – “Does the purpose tell employees why we are doing this?”  If not, it’s time for a change – a change of focus.  A focus that helps us say “Yes!  I believe in this.”


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