I was in my workshop recently searching for a set of plans for a bat house. I like to wood work on occasion. I know I had them but didn’t have any luck. I did find my collection of pins from my Delta Air Lines days. Among those pins was this beauty. It’s the Circle of Safety pin. I looked for it when I was writing the chapter on praise for my book Selling Safety, but couldn’t find it. Of course, I find it after my book comes out.
I used to carry a pocket full of these pins and when I saw a specific behavior, I gave the employee the pin and thanked them for that specific behavior. I explained why that particular behavior was important.
The employee didn’t waste a moment before proudly displaying the pin on his shirt collar. The pin was attractive and stood out. It turned into a conversation piece that I imagined went something like this:
Employee #1 - Hey, that’s a pretty cool pin. Where did you get it?
Employee #2 - The safety guy just came through and gave it to me?
Employee #1 - What did you do to get it?
Employee #2 - I was using the fold-up handrail on the loader while I was climbing up to prevent a fall.
The pin reminded me of the importance of recognition in successful safety cultures. The most effective recognition has 3 key components that are easy to overlook:
Soon - Recognize as soon as possible after the behavior. Sure do a more formal recognition at the end of the month, but don’t miss the opportunity to at least informally recognize the individual or group.
Certain - Be specific. Saying “thanks for being safe” is ambiguous and means little. Use this opportunity to reinforce the specific behavior you want.
Positive - Say thank you. Thank you for getting the job done in a timely manner without risking an injury
The right recognition makes the giver and receiver feel good, reinforces the behaviors you want, and ultimately promotes a strong safety culture. Having a cool lapel pin helps too.