By Julius Akpong.
It is a common saying among many Safety professionals (especially beginners) that the pay is poor. In Nigeria for instance, where Safety is not an undergraduate course, many people have to take up courses after graduation at a time when they probably have no job. It is therefore, important that they acquire relevant skills that would settle the bills and establish themselves for greater exploits. So, apart from learning to identify hazards, carry out risk assessments, identify appropriate control measures, etc. what differentiates one professional from the other is, the experience they bring into the job which accrues from how seriously they have handled the job over time. Apart from experience, relevant skills which differentiate a person’s presentation and touch from the others are:
Computer application skills: The ways of presenting reports and analysis in the 21st century have evolved greatly. A safety professional should spend time getting used to cutting edge computer application packages which can assist with more professional means of presenting safety arguments, reports, stickers, safety signs, instructions, labels, analyses, etc. The other skills below are crucial to efficient delivery:
1. Communication skills – Being able to actively listen to others and articulate your ideas in writing and verbally to any audience in a way where you are heard and you achieve the goals you intended with that communication. As a safety Professional, the only commodity we have got to sell is safety. What determines how much prosperity comes from it is how well one is able to do the job of a salesman – selling well means communicating convincingly, packaging nicely. The difference in safety cultures between different organisations might depend on how well the safety professionals in the two organisations communicate and lead safety which might also determine promotions and how much they get paid. The way and manner in which power point presentations are made, video clips, notices and safety jingles/announcements are presented can make the difference between a well delivered message and an accident waiting to happen, so, a good communicator is only waiting for time to explode.
2.Interpersonal relationship skills Being effective at building trust, finding common ground, having empathy, and ultimately building good relationships with people at work and in your network. This skill is closely related to Communication Skills. As Maya Angelou said, “I have learned people will forget what you said. People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you make them feel.”
3. Teamwork – Being able to work as part of a team displays one’s ability to get along with, and complete work-related tasks with, many different types of personalities. Team players also show their ability to co-operate and compromise with others, which is a trait, often sought after by employers and hiring managers. Professionals who want to be seen as team players should take special care to mention situations when they worked effectively with others on their resume and be willing to describe those situations in-depth.
4. Positivity – Nobody wants to work with a grouch. Don’t criticize and don’t complain, instead of harping on others’ mistakes, show them the right way to do things and praise their improvements. The easiest way to give off a positive demeanor is to be receptive to others — and smiling never hurts. For the safety professional, you cannot afford not to be positive because, most of the time, you are mostly to see things being done unsafely, don’t condemn, correct the right way, as condemnation only puts people off
5. Conflict resolution and people management skills – Unsafe acts in the workplace are responsible for 95% of workplace accidents. A good safety professional who knows how to anticipate and resolve conflicts between man, machine, environment and work only restores opportunity for self- improvement. This is a management level skill which if identified can easily qualify one to the top hierarchy of the organisations leadership. These skills can be developed from building one’s mind while learning to be more patient on a daily basis. In all of these, the important thing is having an open mind and being receptive to new ideas.
6. Flexibility – Employees who are flexible with their schedule and responsibilities don’t just say they’re a team player, they show it. That kind of can-do attitude is essential in the workplace, and can easily make an employee stand out when it comes to promotions, raises, and more. To ensure that this soft skill is on display, describe instances when you’ve been flexible that have benefited you and the company you worked for.
7. Time management Time is money, whenever we manage it properly, we demonstrate discipline in managing our wealth, and therefore, recognizing and being prudent with time is definitely a skill that issues the pay check.
8. Confidence – Confidence is key. When it comes to winning over both clients and co-workers. However, displaying confidence in person, as opposed to on a resume, can be a difficult soft skill to master. So, with constant practice, one can get a gradual grip at it. This skill is essential because when one is not confident about what they say or do, it comes across as if they are not really sure of their message and this can prevent anyone from following.
9. Presentation skills Effectively presenting your work results and ideas formally to an audience that captivates their attention, engage their input, and motivates them to act in accordance to your desired outcome. While presentation skills is a form of communication skills, I decided to list it separately given the ability to present plays a huge role in any business profession especially as you move up in your career as a safety Manager who must engage management in “dangerous boardrooms”.
10. Meeting management skills Leading a meeting to efficiently and effectively reach productive results. At least 50% of meetings today are a waste of time. This is crucial as safety people have to consistently keep organising meeting after meeting.
11. Facilitating skills Being able to coordinate and solicit well represented opinions and feedback from a group with diverse perspectives to reach a common, best solution. This is most important on a multiple contractor site. Where one is not a good facilitator, it would be difficult to properly manage documentations and supervision targets.
12. Selling skills – Building buy-in to an idea, a decision, an action, a product, or a service. This is not just for people in sales, this is also another form of communication skills.
13. Management skills Creating and motivating a high performing team with people of varied skills, personalities, motivations, and work styles.
14. Leadership skills – Defining and communicating vision and ideas that inspires others to follow with commitment and dedication.
15. Mentoring / coaching skills – Providing constructive wisdom, guidance, and/or feedback that can help others further their career development. Many times employees get closer to the safety Manager or anyone else because of the other benefits which they can get to improve their career, life, etc. A good safety manager/Officer should have a proper mix of these things.
And…the movement would happen from food on the table to shelter and then investments and…explosion….that’s why we work, so let’s get work right.