How-To: Supporting Safety & The No Nonsense Approach to Safety Advocacy
We believe you shouldn’t have to ‘sell safety’, and assume that occupational safety and health are the foremost priorities for all organizations. Still, Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) professionals ask us the same question, time after time: How do I get management to ‘buy in’? This Selling Safety Series has the answers that will help you take your great safety idea to management teams with a winning strategy. If you’re a safety pro needing to build advocacy for organizational improvements, know that you’re not alone!
We've talked, I've asked questions. You like what you see and agree that it will eliminate challenges related to your existing safety training program. You are excited!
Here's the rub. You don't have the checkbook or the authority to unilaterally commit your company to several years and any sum of money, even for a perfect solution. What do you do?
There are a few options depending on who you are, and who has the checkbook:
- Do Nothing
Because you don't know how to effectively ask for your leadership's support, or maybe you've been told no before...your excitement will wane and you'll settle back into the humdrum of what you've always done. Maybe it's totally mediocre and creates risk by itself because it sucks and you know it. Maybe it's pretty good but should be even better. Either way, nothing is changing. This is the easiest option.
- Ask for Support & Budget Without Building Value
Believe me, if I have a conversation with you but don't build value, I just ask for your money, you're going to tell me no. It doesn't matter how great what we do is, the business challenges it can solve, and the risk of loss that it can help eliminate. You'll say no because I'm just asking you for your hard earned money. This is the dumbest option.
- Ask for Support & Budget Without Considering What's Valuable to Leadership
You and I will chat about saving time, creating efficiency. We will ooh and ahh over features & benefits. You may weep when we envision what you can do professionally with the time savings and efficiency a safety improvement will help you achieve. The reality is, though, that your leadership may not get the value or understand the efficiency—they don’t live in the same world you do day after day, and may not even be clear your scope of work. They have different goals. They may not see how focusing on the safety of your people will drive down incident rates and lift up your safety and corporate culture. They likely won't get it because you're talking about you...and no one wants to hear it. This option is both ineffective and silly.
- Ask for Support & Budget That Connects Value With Leadership
Do your homework and think! Is there a corporate initiative to be fiscally responsible? To spend less? Don't just ask for money; share your plan to reduce wasteful workers comp claims and costs by implementing a plan that actually results in lower rates. Is your leadership excited about building company voice and culture? Talk about how your good safety idea supports those efforts. Does leadership want better data or metrics from all departments? Explain how your good safety idea accomplishes that objective.
Be smart by being strategic! Know your audience. And if you're still not sure about how to craft your message, ask someone who is good at that.