New ideas often lead to creative, useful solutions in organisations even when it comes to safety. Unfortunately new ideas can become a challenge when they constantly interrupt your safety meeting and send it off on a tangent. While it’s a given that your safety meetings should be as quick and efficient as possible, it’s not always easy to bring a conversation back to a more relevant topic that is focused on achieving more safer outcomes for a workforce.
Here’s our thought on keeping your safety meetings focused and get them back on track when they get derailed by participants who want to run their own disruptive agenda that, quite frankly, isn’t focused on safe production.
Start with the Safety Meeting Agenda
You can often forestall irrelevant ideas by starting every meeting off by discussing the safety meeting agenda. Make the topics you want addressed clear and show your team that there is a proper order and structure to the discussion.
Do Your Homework
Before every safety meeting, you need to learn as much as you can about the concerns of the meeting members. Make sure you know what the relevant topics are, and you will be able to quickly spot new topics that could derail the meeting. Then you will be able to deal with them before they take up too much time and attention. I’ve always said that sometimes in meetings we major on the minors and minor on the major issues…often forgetting about the key focus of work safety – preventing accidents, injuries and illnesses at the workplace
Question the Relationship to the Topic
It’s better to avoid confronting your safety team members directly. Confrontation sometimes just leads to increased resentment and decreased cooperation for the safety committee. Instead, gently redirect the conversation by asking the right questions.
When a new topic of conversation seems inappropriate, say something like, “OK, interesting point. Now how does it relate to [the meeting topic]?” or “This seems to be a new issue. While it could be important, I have to ask if you really think we can address it and finish with [the meeting topic] in the time we have remaining?” These statements show respect to the person who introduced the idea and recognizes that person could believe their idea is relevant to the topic. It will improve cooperation instead of making your people feel afraid of expressing their ideas.
Put Disruptive Ideas on the “Idea List”
Keep an Idea List during your safety meetings to deal with unrelated ideas when they come up. When somebody introduces an idea that threatens to derail the safety meeting, place the new idea on the Idea List by saying, “That’s a great idea. We’ll put it on the Idea List.”
Set aside some time at the end of the meeting to go over the ideas on the Idea List. Many of the ideas on the list will have been resolved during the rest of meeting. Many others will obviously look like bad ideas by then. Hold a short conversation about the remaining ideas, and the team will dispose of most of them by themselves. Tell your team that you will contact the people who introduced the remaining new issues to make plans for dealing with them.
Final thoughts on safety meetings
If you learn to deal with most problems before they arise, and how to cope with the disruptions that do arise, your safety meetings will be a lot more productive, and also shorter. Your team will appreciate both developments and you will actually get some of the real stuff done. Never lose sight that the safety meeting should be about consultation and participation in safety but…with a core focus to prevent injury and illness in the workplace.
Safetysure work safety consultants can help your safety meetings get back on track. Why not give us a call on 1300 087 888 or chat below to find out more.