We communicate in many different methods; verbal, written, via team meetings, one on one talks, we use email and text messaging. Sometimes we get creative with laminated pocket cards and posters. The methods we use to get our message out is as important as the message itself.
For as long as I can remember, the most common method for getting our safety message out is by means of the venerated safety bulletin board. I think it predates the industrial revolution. Anyhow, the safety bulletin board is often strategically mounted on the walls of the break area. In theory, if we post for example the monthly safety performance on the bulletin board, everyone entering the break area will be unable to overcome the irresistible attraction to the catch up on the news. In reality, we know that our employees are not clamoring for the latest safety numbers, yet we have important news, advice or information they need. Getting one single message out to every employee is difficult and one avenue may not be enough.
Don’t limit your ability or avenues to send your messages. I have a rule I call the 10×10 Communication rule. It came from a boss who used to say, “tell them 10 times, ten different ways and they’ll remember it.” I think there is some validity to his point. With the 10×10 Communication rule in mind, here are three communication options you may be missing:
1. Elevator speech – The name comes from the notion that the speech should be delivered in the short time period of an elevator ride, usually less than 60 seconds. If you are given one minute to address a training class or shift briefing, ask yourself “how best can I use that time?” Having an elevator speech in your back pocket that captures the essence of your message uses that time wisely.
2. Handwritten Notes – Few people seem to write by hand today, but it can add a very personal touch. Text and email can be convenient and quick, but the social interaction gets lost. One of the best examples of messaging using handwritten notes I have seen was from a chef who had a clear vision of kitchen safety and penned messages on the menus at each workstation almost daily.
3. Allies – This communication method stands out above the rest for communicating your safety message. There is no better person to do that than an informal leader among the front-line employee group. These are your allies. Your message coming from an informal (and respected) leader carries more weight than the same message coming from a supervisor or safety manager. Recruit an ally to be your spokesperson.
There are lots of options and no single method works for everyone all the time. Building a strong safety culture requires the right messaging using the right avenues. Communication is a key component of any safety management system. Getting it right and making it stick is not easy. Need help…let me know.
Do you have a favorite communication method? Share it here.