Steve, owner of a restaurant exhaust cleaning and fire suppression maintenance company based in Roseberg, OR told Session 8B of the Leadership Development Lab (LDL)™:
"I noticed that Mark, our shop manager, wasn't wearing his safety glasses as he was performing the recharging of a dry chemical fire extinguisher. These extinguishers are charged to a pressure between 150 to 200 PSI and are considered a high-pressure vessel.
"When I mentioned to Mark that I noticed he wasn't wearing his safety glasses he looked at me a bit quizzically. I reminded him that our safety manual called for proper eye protection in this circumstance, that he is an example to the guys he trains, and other workers that are in and out of the shop during the day.
"He nodded acknowledgement to my point. In the days following our discussion, I observed Mark several times in the shop and I am glad to say that he was always wearing his safety glasses.
"The lesson I learned from this experience is that I can make a difference by speaking up when I see a violation of our company's safety standards. In fact, I make a difference when I fail to speak up. I saw once again the importance of standing up and speaking out for all our company's standards.
"The action I call you to take is to be brave, stand up, and speak up for company standards. Your team's 20/20 vision is too important for you to be shy about standing up. When you do, you make a positive difference in your world.
"The benefit you will gain is knowing you have done the right thing to protect your coworker's safety. You will feel good about yourself and your role as a leader."
I love this story because all that seemed to be needed was a simple reminder of the standards that were prescribed in the company's safety manual. Ultimately, the real performance standards of your organization, of your team, are the standards that are reinforced. What's published in your safety and employee manual doesn't matter much unless everyone in the organization holds each other to those high ideals. Entropy is the enemy, all things run down naturally. You must stand up for standards if you are going to create and maintain a high-performance team. Therefore, it is important to ensure that your safety meetings are informative and motivational. Part of how you do this is to be sure that your mission, vision and values are reinforced as a part of every team meeting.
Reinforced standards help everyone see more clearly.
—Larry W. Dennis, Sr. President Turbo Leadership Systems