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Guest Blog - Ignorance is Bliss

Although Drewie and I have never met, her passion and drive in our industry has lead us to ‘know’ each other. She speaks from her heart and comes with some fairly strict warnings… perhaps M rated!

Warning: ”Some of my posts from here on in may disturb some viewers. Names of people and places have been changed or omitted to protect their identity. There may be offensive language. Mild language is acceptable and will be included in its entirety. There may be any or all of the following:

  • Broad generalisations.

  • Statements deemed ‘not politically correct’.

  • Brutal facts, home truths some viewers may not want to hear.

All views expressed in my posts are mine only and are not a reflection on any company or client past or present that I am or will be affiliated with. The ‘data’ here (insert opinions) has been accumulated over 3 decades of personal on site experience and every story, scenario or recollection is true, not a ‘fictitious story’ to add value as has been suggested in the past. Truth is stranger than fiction.

If you the reader are not willing to accept the above please abandon your desire to carry on reading. If you decide to carry on reading and are then offended, tuff sh#t you were warned so do not come crying to me after the fact. Regular readers, this warning shall remain at the start of all of my posts on this forum, just skip it and hook in to main piece.

PS I know it is the wrong ‘tuff’ that may happen too.” Hard Hat Mentor

So if the above rings true, should be a piece of cake to navigate our journey in the work world yes?

OMG. Sometimes ‘ignorance is bliss’ seems to make sense. Being a ‘Safety Weirdo’ at heart, thought I would share with you a few ‘learnings’ gained at a time when I was very ‘ignorant’ in many ways. Still have a long way to go in the learning arena, yet we tend to soak up a little wisdom along the way if only by osmosis.

Using the term ‘safety weirdo’ for instance to describe myself over the years has raised a few eyebrows and heckles. Yet it fits, you have to be weird to choose it as a role, more so to stay in it. No normal rational human would live in that world given a choice, would they? Though my career has seen me veer away from the ‘traditional safety weirdo roles,’ the space I am in now (Culture, Leadership, Mentoring) needed that foundation.

My first share is this: The language we use is very, very powerful. Never underestimate it. I have earned the right to call myself a safety weirdo, will continue to do so and will stand by it.

It has helped break down barriers with crews when the ‘S’ word was cringed at, it has built instant rapport when arriving to a new safety team who had been put through the ringer, been doin’ it hard for a very long time. It has opened up conversations as to ‘why use that term,’ leading to value adding outcomes and new perspectives regarding the challenge of the role from management and the wider work force.

It amuses me now that being told: ‘what I was doing wrong’ (I knew ‘it’ was right or would not have continued to do ‘it’) time and time again, turned out to work and helped my influence immensely. Much to the surprise of the naysayer ‘leaders.’

INFLUENCE. There is a word, put that ‘straight in the pool room.’ That is power. Do not doubt it for a second. How we choose to use that is up to us.

“Only Use Your Power for Good” Hard Hat Mentor

So much to share so little ‘word count’ so below is a quick summary of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ over the years, you are smart so will figure it out. Can expand on all below if invited to in the future J

The Right…

  • Use every opportunity to build relationships at all levels.

  • Remain authentically you at all times. Inject humour at every opportunity to boost morale and lighten the fu#k up. Laugh at yourself often when you screw up. ‘Safety’ is scary and serious enough so often, it needs humanising at appropriate times.

  • Do not take on the accountability for all things ‘Safety,’ coach and mentor ‘mini me’ clone yourself often. Do not be the one to read out the safety notices at toolbox/pre start. Empower the managers, supervisors, leading hands and T/A’s anyone to have a turn. Collaborate and engage with frontline supervisors re toolbox topics, action close outs, incident reports (and every bloody thing) - ownership.

  • Know the ‘big picture’ the entire current and future scope of work, who is who in the zoo at all levels. What is coming to bite you on the butt? What is coming which may affect morale: Roster changes, flight changes, pay screw ups, holiday screw ups, other contractors’ incidents etc. etc.

  • Don’t babysit, wipe bums, blow noses or spoon feed. Ask open questions, actively listen, wait for the answers, they will come. Expect the best in people. We often get what we expect. Lose agendas and judgement, be ‘Switzerland’, especially when investigating incidents

  • Use your INFLUENCE to strive for a high trust, low fear culture. Every little ‘action’ and ‘conversation’ can begin the process to build trust and squash the fear. Do not give up.

The Wrong…

  • Stop drinking with the crew after work. Stop talking to the client/contractors about our work so much. Stop showing your underbelly, they will eat you alive.

  • Stop mucking around and laughing so much, no one will take you seriously. Why do you dance and sing to the music at 0430 getting your crib? You will be drug tested if you keep it up. Go for another ‘random’ drug test.

  • It is your job to not only ‘create’ the toolbox topic (and every other bloody thing they want) but to always deliver it. It is your job to make sure we are compliant. It is your job to pull them into line. It is your job to do the incident report/investigation. It is your job to bla, bla, bla.

Don’t worry yourself over things that don’t concern you, it is not your department. No I will not let you share that with the crews at this point in time, they are on a need to know basis. Stop nagging me for an answer on that subject, it will not affect morale if they don’t know till the last minute…….

No doubt many of you have seen these scenarios play out to some degree. These are sadly still the ‘norm’ in too many workplaces today. There are of course many companies and leaders who now know how important everything on the left is. The tide is turning, it is slow, yet with our help it will get there eventually.

Even in my total ignorance back in the day, my values, ethics, empathy, care and gut feeling led me to be ‘dragged into the office’ time and time again to hear all the crap on the right. Many others were fighting the good fight too I reckon. We were not special, just knew we were dealing with people, not cattle. That systems and metrics are needed, yet will achieve jack shit if the people have no trust in them or in their leaders. That if fear is a method of control, we would get absolutely nowhere. That safety is not a separate entity, it is part of the ‘culture’ of the ‘business’ and every single decision maker, supervisor and worker was accountable for it. It was not and is still not our job to keep everyone safe. Believe it or not, that was radical thinking 20 plus years ago, still is in some peoples’ minds…..

It warms my heart now to know that most authentic values based leaders create high trust low fear cultures by taking the human factor into consideration, giving it just as much importance as the operational excellence required to achieve their business goals.

Gotta split over my word count (Oops sorry Alanna, I warned you!) THANKS DREWIE!!!

If you want to get in touch with Drewie, see the details below Contact:

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