Why Personal Connections are Key in Creating Effective Safety Training Programs
Safety training programs are critical when it comes to strengthening culture, communicating procedures and gaining team support. The strongest safety instructors know that to inspire change and improve safety outcomes, you must develop personal connections. Whether these are formed naturally or intentionally, is up to you. As long as there is an effort to create personal connections, you are headed in the right direction.
Regina McMichael, CSP, CIT, president of the Learning Factory and author of the Safety Training Ninja, shared some of her tips in the Professional Safety Journal, for creating personal connections in a safety training program.
One of the most powerful ways to establish a connection in safety training is through storytelling. Connecting to the topic and allowing them to feel as though they have control over the learning process is important. This is where storytelling comes in. Sharing stories don’t have to be directly about safety, as long as the outcome of the story is relevant. Preparing a few stories before leading a safety training.
Inspire Learners to Share Stories
If you cannot come up with stories of your own, create a break in the training, where trainees are encouraged to share their own stories. This allows for connections to be formed among the students, instead of just with the instructor. Before the training, reach out to those working in the environment(s) similar to the topic of your training to get their perspectives and ideas. It can make a huge difference in the impact of your training and will help you prepare questions.
Anyone can lead a training and list off regulations. That’s why as an instructor, you have to be vulnerable to really develop those connections. A few ways to do that include - talking about the complexity of the material and your personal struggle with figuring it out, discussing lessons learned from past failures and experiences and sharing about any past misconceptions you’ve had and the growth you gained from that.
Create a Culture of Positivity and a Sense of Community
The perception of your message can be greatly influenced by your organization’s safety culture. While you can’t fully control your culture, you can cultivate positivity by taking some of these steps - use work-appropriate humor, ask ice-breakers and talk about preconceived notions of safety training and address concerns.
Look for New Ways to Connect
It’s important to remember that not every learner is the same. Introverted and quiet learners may be more difficult to develop a connection with. That’s why it’s essential to provide different communication and discussion options for learners to share their thoughts and opinions. Some of the quietest students in-person may have a lot to share in an online discussion board.
Virtual Safety Training
While making personal connections in-person can be challenging, doing so virtually can pose an entirely different set of challenges. These range from keeping everyone engaged to developing class culture and ensuring that everything runs smoothly. The virtual classroom is not going anywhere any time soon, so it’s important to adjust now and learn what works best for you and your employees.
Best practices to make virtual training as impactful as in-person training:
- Take advantage of pauses - helps to emphasize important points
- Make eye contact - looking into the camera makes a big difference
- Invest in equipment - the clearer the presentation, the better
- Be next-level prepared - have any props, documents or visual aids ready to go
Article of reference was published in the January issue of the Professional Safety Journal of the American Society of Safety Professionals.