Speaker Spotlight: The interpersonal dynamic of BBS
EDITOR’S NOTE: Every year, the National Safety Council Congress & Expo features some of the top thought-leaders and motivators in the occupational safety and health community. Safety+Health has invited the most highly rated presenters to contribute to this monthly column. For more on this year’s event, visit congress.nsc.org.
Are you using a behavior-based safety process at your workplace? Is your BBS process making an optimal difference? Does it focus on obtaining checklist information for computer input and analysis?
At many organizations, it’s assumed that a data-focused BBS process ensures employees will speak up when they observe a co-worker’s risky behavior. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. The one-on-one interpersonal communication of BBS is actually more important than the subjective checklist data. Safety-related feedback is critical to support safe behavior and correct at-risk behavior. This one-on-one conversation should be progressive and inspirational; workers should want to become their brother’s/sister’s keeper. In other words, an “actively caring for people” safety culture is needed.
What is an AC4P safety culture, and how can it be cultivated? First, consider the difference between “caring” and “acting.” No one wants to see an individual get injured on the job. This is caring. Yet, when workers are asked to muster the courage to offer safety-related advice to a peer who is working at-risk and could be injured, many admit they don't act on their caring by providing behavioral feedback.
What about showing sincere appreciation for a co-worker’s safe behavior? An AC4P work culture is nurtured when employees provide supportive feedback when they observe the desirable behavior of others, and express gratitude when they receive feedback for their own safety-related behavior. The most important component of a BBS observation and feedback process is the delivery of interpersonal behavioral feedback. However, training often is needed to help workers develop the confidence and competence to deliver BBS feedback effectively.
Supportive feedback should be direct, but corrective feedback should be indirect. Express appreciation directly for safety-related behavior you observe, but don’t directly point out at-risk behavior you observe. Instead, ask relevant questions to influence your co-worker to admit to his or her undesirable behavior and perhaps suggest ways to make the safe alternative more likely.
The STEP process
The STEP (See, Thank, Enter and Pass) process starts when an individual looks for AC4P behavior from others (See) and shows sincere gratitude for it by presenting them with green wristbands (Thank) embossed with the words “Actively Caring for People” and a unique identification number. The wristband recipient then documents this interaction on the AC4P website (ac4p.org), along with the ID number. This recognition process is entered and tracked worldwide (Enter) as positive AC4P communication. The recipient then looks for AC4P behaviors from others to pass on the wristband (Pass).
This process exemplifies supportive behavioral feedback and motivates the recipient to repeat the AC4P behavior recognized.
Documenting and reading the supportive behaviors posted on the AC4P website contributes to helping AC4P behavior become the norm. People realize that acting beyond one’s self-serving interests to benefit others is more common than imagined.
A culture of interpersonal trust, compassion and routine AC4P behavior is nurtured.
An AC4P culture in your workplace
I hope you see the benefit of giving others supportive behavior-based feedback and cultivating an AC4P culture in your workplace, at home and in your community.
In a brother’s/sister’s keeper work culture, injuries are prevented by interpersonal AC4P behavior-based feedback that supports safe behavior and corrects at-risk behavior. Corrective feedback is given with nondirective empathy to increase the possibility of ownership and self-directed improvement.
Training with role playing and relevant behavioral feedback is often needed to give people the courage and competence to deliver supportive and corrective feedback most effectively.
This article represents the views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.
Krista S. Geller is president of GellerAC4P Inc. (gellerac4p.org), which offers customized leadership coaching, training and communication, among other services. Krista is available for keynotes and AC4P training. To contact her, email [email protected].
Direct to your inbox: Sign up to be notified in email about new “Speaker Spotlight” columns.