Professional sports teams, at their most basic level, are athletes with strikingly different skills brought together in order to achieve victories. A pitcher and a third-basemen work just feet apart, but each has specific responsibilities. A left tackle and a quarterback couldn’t be more different, but their actions must be perfectly synchronized. Point guards and centers have roles that evolve each time they switch between offense and defense.

Even with the right people armed with the right skills, teams need a critical role to help them succeed: coaching. The coach remains focused on the big picture, coordinates every player’s role, and helps each achieve maximum performance. When something goes wrong, the coach calls a timeout and works with the team to change strategies.

Now shift your focus to a construction site, and you’ll find a similar situation. Groups of professionals with specialized skills collaborate under a common timetable to erect a structure under the guidance of supervisors. One type of coach in this arena is a safety coach, charged with reducing construction hazards and ensuring nobody gets hurt. A supervisor who performs their job like a coach — respecting the “players” and providing the right expertise at the right time — will generally achieve a higher level of safety.

Safer Actions on the Jobsite

Coaching is fundamentally about helping individuals perform their best so the team as a whole can do better. Developing an understanding of other people’s needs is the key to motivating them.

Just as players don’t join a team with a goal of failure, workers come to the jobsite with a desire to succeed. By celebrating the team’s successes and supporting positive actions, the safety coach provides positive reinforcement to both individuals and the team as a whole. That approach can overcome the us-versus-them mentality that can lead to a variety of problems on the site while encouraging employees to perform beyond the normal expectations of their jobs.

Different people are motivated by different factors, so the safety coach’s feedback should focus on each individual’s source of motivation. One worker might be motivated by quality. Another might take pride in faster-than-normal production. Identifying those motivators helps the safety coach achieve the best performance from each team member.

Ideally, motivation will also help workers develop a stronger sense of ownership in every aspect of the process, including safety. When the job is done and workers return to their homes safely, they’ll take pride in safety at work and the role they played in making their work environment a safe one.

Building a Safety Culture

If you want to identify an excellent coach, ask the players. When they see the coach as a credible, trusted expert who helps them achieve more, you’ll know the coach has a tremendous amount of respect for the players and their abilities.

One of the best ways to accomplish this is the simple act of getting to know your employees. Learn their names and something about them. Find out what they like to do when they’re not working. Taking the time to get to know workers as individuals shows them you have a genuine interest in their well-being.

Getting to know your employees on a more personal level also helps to establish a quality safety culture in your company or organization. A safe work culture starts with workers who understand they have a responsibility to the people they work with — and who have that same responsibility to them.

SMG is grounded in this safety culture, and our coaches help firms across the country ensure their players are trained, motivated and successful. If you need our help, SMG University offers a diverse catalog of training opportunities. Check out our course calendar, or contact us for a customized training program.