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As an EHS professional, you’re the resident safety expert at your organization. This also makes you the foremost resource for your workers to turn to when a safety issue arises, which is why you’ve worked hard to establish yourself as a trusted listener for their concerns.
However, while your workers might come to you for advice, there may still be significant space to improve the advice you give. After all, everyone gives advice, but not everyone gives truly good advice.
And as a safety professional, giving truly good health & safety advice is one of your most important roles. Here are a few tips to give better advice when your colleagues ask for help.
When someone comes to you for advice, especially health & safety advice, your first instinct is to fix the problem. In reality, that’s one of the biggest handicaps for advice-giving.
A lot of the time, when someone asks you, “What should I do?” they’re actually asking you to help them process the problem, rather than asking you to solve the problem for them. If anything, solving the problem locks them into thinking about it in one way, even if it’s not a line of thinking they agree with.
When giving advice, it’s important to remember one simple motto: it’s not about you. In other words, giving advice isn’t about your priorities – it’s about helping the other person sort out their own priorities, even if they don’t quite match yours.
One of the best ways to help someone think through the problem rather than solving it for them is to focus on offering information about options. Fortunately, as an EHS professional and a safety expert, this is an area where you can easily excel.
That said, this is also an area where many people falter. You may be an expert, but it’s incorrect to assume that you know best. Remember, giving advice is about the other person, not you.
Think of it this way: you might have greater expertise on the topic as a whole, but the decision-maker has more expertise about the decision to be made. Your job is to help them bridge the gap between their knowledge of the situation and your knowledge of the topic to make the right choice.
Even as a safety expert, there may be certain areas you don’t know that much about. This does not mean you can’t be helpful. In these cases (and in all advice, really) the key is to be a sounding board.
That’s why advice is all about listening: if you go into it knowing you don’t have all the answers and behave as a sounding board, you can be thoughtful for pretty much anyone on almost any topic.
Think of advice as a collaboration, rather than a lecture. You’re coming together to puzzle through a safety problem. As an EHS professional, listening is one of the best things you can do because it encourages employees to view you as a trusted resource.
Part of giving good health & safety advice is having the resources you need to be helpful. As a safety professional, that leaves you with one underlying mandate: never stop learning.
That’s where we can help. Make sure to check out our blog for more great tips to improve your skills as an EHS professional, like these key habits of great EHS professionals or these time management tips for safety pros.
Since 2009, the team at EHS Insight have been on a mission to make the world a better place. Join us by subscribing to our Blog and receive updates on what’s new in the world of EHS, our software and other related topics.
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