As a safety professional, establishing credibility with the people you work around is critical.
Too often, I have watched people lose credibility in the first few moments of interaction with fellow employees. The challenge with this is that once lost, it can take a long time to earn.
On the flip side, coming in softly, listening, asking questions, and seeking to understand the landscape will generally lead to strong credibility with your peers. Sure, there are challenges when we feel that we bring a lot to the table and want to help and make a difference. That is our ego and sometimes our desire to help.
Consider that most of the time, others don’t think that things are broken or that we are a necessary addition to the equation. As safety professionals, we are often viewed as nuisances, or worse, problems. This comes from many years of safety professionals behaving questionably.
We all hear stories about safety cops. We hear titles like safety officer, enforcement, or compliance specialist and this can lead to a persona that we do not invite. For this reason, it is our duty to come in with a different approach, building trust, collaborating, and promoting strong culture.
Is it easy or natural? Not necessarily. As mentioned above, most of us want to make a positive impact, so having the patience to do so in a slow and meticulous manner might not be in our nature. This takes discipline, foresight, and persistence.
I will say this. Using this approach will almost always work. Coming in with guns-a-blazing will almost always backfire. It is a choice that we must make, and I recommend coming in to learn first and coach second.