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1 November 2011

Practicing Incident and Injury-Free Leadership During Meetings

By: Will Hewett, JMJ Associates

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Tips and advice for reinforcing and refining your IIF leadership in meetings.

A typical workday for most supervisors and managers is filled with meetings. While a meetingpacked day can sometimes leave little time to address other tasks, try considering meetings as opportunities to practice and refine your Incident and Injury-Free® (IIF®) leadership skills, thus helping others to progress in their IIF journey.

Getting Started

Express and reinforce your IIF commitment by incorporating these skills and practices into your meetings and conversations. Start by trying one new skill in each meeting and observe your peer’s reactions as well as noticing your own experience—what worked well, what didn’t, what might you try next time? You will find that some of these tips work better for you than others, as well as identify new meeting tips to share with others.

1. Set your Intention

At the start of a meeting, get clear about your IIF commitment—about what truly drives you. Your intention does not need to be articulated; simply be aware of it and let your actions do the talking.

2. Demonstrate your Care and Concern

Authentic care and concern lie at the heart of the IIF approach. For example, in some parts of the world, those in leadership roles take an active interest in knowing their employees beyond their job responsibilities, such as details about their families, special interests and hobbies, etc.

Consider these ideas:

  • As a meeting begins to convene, ask someone about something non-work related that you know is important to them, or simply inquire about their day.
  • If you are leading the meeting, go around the table to ‘check-in’ on how everyone is doing, both professionally and personally. You can start by sharing something about yourself, such as, “I’m excited about the progress on our latest project”, or “I’m a little distracted today because a family member is ill.”

3. Perform an “Influence Check-up”

An IIF leader’s success depends, in part, on the ability to motivate others to act in service of a productive working environment that supports care and concern for the safety and wellbeing of each other. During meetings, be deliberate about choosing words and actions that demonstrate your IIF commitment and observe how your words and actions influence others by asking yourself these questions:

  • Focus. Do I influence others to focus on the IIF mission and intention?
  • Think. How do I encourage others to think, such as viewpoints, interpretations, choices and decisions?
  • Behave. How do I affect other’s behavior, meaning body language, actions, listening skills and language?
  • Feelings. What impact do I have on the way people feel about themselves, their jobs, their co-workers, the company and me?
  • Bottom Line. Am I leading people to follow me? Why or why not?

4. Acknowledge Accomplishments

Be generous with recognition of safety accomplishments in the workplace. Sharing successes will help form a foundation for the group to be more receptive to learning more about and embracing the IIF approach.

5. Open Safety Meetings by Emphasizing IIF Results

Begin meetings by reporting safety results and emphasizing the importance of continuing to focus on cultivating and maintaining an IIF environment. Point to positive results as evidence that the idea of an IIF workplace can be turned into reality.

6. Encourage Continuous Learning

Creating an IIF workplace is a journey that requires nurturing. When you hear someone expressing a safety event as having been a success or failure, share how you see the IIF approach as part of the situation. In the event of a success, emphasize the power and reality of an IIF environment. When a failure is shared, identify ways in which the failure could have been prevented or turned around. Focus on learning from each situation.

7. Actively Listen

Interestingly, the most influential leaders are often the ones who talk the least. Hone your listening skills and ask questions only when you need a deeper understanding of what is being said. Resist the urge to speak until you have something ‘burning’ to say that you believe will advance the conversation in the right direction.

8. Amplify Others

Create an emotionally safe environment for your employees to raise difficult issues. When you notice someone expressing their IIF commitment, support them. For example, “Thank you, Dan. You raised an important issue. Let’s dig a little deeper into this point.”

9. Catch the Slippery Issues and Define Action

Be aware of these situations:

  • Notice recurring safety-related issues and themes that the group seems to want to avoid. Just as stopping a job is an expression of your IIF stand, stopping a meeting can have the same effect. State your genuine desire to address the issues, and motivate and engage your group to help define goals and action items around resolving these issues.
  • Accountability is at the root of an IIF culture. Everyone in the organization, regardless of title or responsibilities, can and should be involved in expressing IIF concerns and issues and helping to identify and implement solutions. As the meeting nears its end, ensure that all action items are clear and responsibilities are assigned. Begin the next meeting by following up on the status of these items.

10. Discuss Situations That Could Lead to the next Incident or Injury

A workforce that has fully embraced an IIF commitment and mindset is aware of and on-thelookout for situations in which injuries might occur. Frequently engage others in conversations about injuries that either happened or could happen in order to learn from them. Establish plans of action to prevent these occurrences/situations and put the plans in place.

IIF in Action in the Workplace

The IIF process is a journey with an attainable goal. As a leader, you are responsible for both motivating and helping others to create a workplace environment in which people express genuine care and concern for each other and find ways to create IIF results. Even activities such as routine meetings can be used as forums to forward your IIF commitment, turning intention into collective action and demonstrable results