Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking at the National Comcare Conference in Melbourne, talking all things safety leadership & creating a culture of safety, what a hoot (seriously, it was a really great conference).

What continues to disappoint me is, whilst the majority of organisations have all the right rhetoric regarding safety (i.e. zero tolerance to bullying, ‘our people are our most important asset’, yadda yadda yadda), statistics continue to tell us that it is not always leading to great outcomes (i.e safe working environments). And I mean more than just physical safety here! Are we creating psychologically safe working environments for our teams?

Organisations often have the right safety systems in place, so why is this the case?

The way I see it, like it or not, I reckon we have a lot to answer for.

As leaders & supportive teammates, instead of holding our teams accountable for unproductive or unsafe behaviours, we often give way too much attention and even reward the very behaviour that we say we don’t want, and wonder why we end up with a toxic or unsafe working environment.

It’s kinda like when your down at the beach and those damn hungry seagulls don’t leave you alone (just like a scene from Finding Nemo.. “mine mine, mine mine”, do u know what I’m talking about?) so you give ‘em a chip to shut ‘em up. Except they don't! In fact, they come back with a vengeance and bring a whole swarm of their mates with them.

We have in fact rewarded them for the behaviour we don't want (their pesky chirping)!

By leaders rewarding results that were achieved through bullying or unethical behaviours (think banking Royal Commission), or when we find ourselves allowing our teammates to get away with unsafe acts or crappy behaviours, just to keep the peace or protect ourselves, this simply feeds and fuels, the behaviours, and before you know it, the unproductive or unsafe people riots, reign supreme.

So what do we need to do instead?
We need to STOP feeding the birds! 

We need to step up & be prepared to take the right road, which is often not the easy road.

If we want any chance at creating workplaces worth belonging, that are respectful & safe, to allow our teams to optimise wellbeing (physical & cognitive) as well as optimise their performance, this is not a nice to do, it is a must do!

What behaviours are you rewarding in your team and your organisation?
Are they the behaviours you want to see more of?

If not, do these three simple (not necessarily easy) steps:

  1. Set & communicate the behavioural guidelines (desired behaviours vs. not negotiable behaviours in your team, your organisation)

  2. Role model the right behaviours; and 

  3. Hold yourself and others to account.  

If you really want to create positive momentum, reward the behaviours you want to see more of! Catch your team doing the 'right' thing (in terms of safety & other desired behaviours). Recognise & reward them for it & see what happens.

It can be a real game-changer! 

Here’s to creating safe workplaces, worth belonging!


BLYTHE ROWE & Her Life on Heels.

The founder and director of Human Incite, is widely recognised for her passion, energy and her ability to shake things up. Blythe is brilliant at revving-up productivity and performance in organisations. She is on a mission to rid our workplaces of toxic behaviours, build meaningful relationships, personally and professionally and create workplaces worth belonging. Her enthusiasm simply is infectious!