Relationships & Safety: Is There a Link?

Does your relationship with your boss or your employees have any effect on how safe the environment is?  My colleague, Judy Agnew, writes in her latest article “Why Relationships Matter in Safety” (PM eZine 10-10) that relationships in safety do have a direct effect on the type of safety culture that exists.  Those that build effective relationships also earn discretionary effort from their employees and therefore improved performance.  Don’t be fooled, though, into thinking that effective relationships mean always being nice.  Accountability and constructive feedback are very important to the relationship and help to build a trusting and safe environment.  Here are a few of the best practices she discusses for building effective relationships around safety:

  • Set Clear expectations: make sure you are clear but also that the recipient understands the expectations.
  • Ask for feedback about your own leadership: invite discussion about what you do well and what you may be able to improve on.
  • Listen: be sure to ask clarifying questions and paraphrase to confirm that you hear what is being said to you
  • Admit when you are wrong: it will go a long way if you admit to your own mistakes and model how to learn from them.
  • Follow through on commitments: if you say you’re going to do something, do it!  It is essential in building trust.

For more on creating a safety culture, read Safe by Accident?


Posted by Aubrey Daniels, Ph.D.

Aubrey is a thought leader and expert on management, leadership, safety and workplace issues. For the past 40 years, he has been dedicated to helping people and organizations apply the laws of human behavior to optimize performance.