One of the clients I work with are progressive, constructive and outcome focused.  They focus heavily on safety with the ultimate goal of zero harm for their staff, contractors and stakeholders.

Their recent safety video really impressed me with the key messages that it conveys.  The focus of the video is around the agency really striving for their staff, contractors and stakeholders to think about the importance of putting people before policy and process.  That is, when thinking about safety, if we start with people first, it changes the dynamics and focus of the message.    It gets people really clear on why we are doing it which is to protect our people from harm.    It engages people, gets them clear on why it is important and what we need to do to really drive this in everything we do. They showcase in the video real families that work with and for the agency to really drive home the message that it is not only the people that you might think are affected but every person has a family that they go home to who relies on them and loves them.

This message is poles apart from the contrast of driving safety from the policy or process perspective.  We need to do that safety inspection because we have to.  We have a safety policy that says that we put safety first.  We all must live and breathe safety because our bosses think it is important.  We may not get our bonus because of our safety statistics and reporting tells us we are not hitting our targets.

I am not saying that these secondary messages are not important.  What I am saying is that they tend to focus on the how and the what.  That is, this policy or this process is important and perhaps more important than our people.  By its very nature, this goes against everything that safety and leadership is all about.   We lead in areas like safety for people first not to cover off on a policy and process.

It may be worth thinking about this not only with your safety messages but also with other key areas and messages you are trying to connect with your people around.  Are we putting people first with our messages?  Do they know we care about them more than the policy or process?     If they do, it will precede higher levels of engagement and outstanding outcomes.