Being good at your job is very challenging. Safety professionals are asked to help make safety-critical decisions and are relied upon to help protect the team on a daily basis. The question is how can you become the amazing Safety Professional who can rise to the challenge?
Every safety professional should focus on continuous learning. The old saying you don’t know what you don’t know holds true in safety just like everywhere else.
When I started in safety, like many people I had a basic knowledge of safety requirements from running my own company's safety program. This gave me just enough knowledge to be overconfident and dangerous.
This all changed when I jumped at the chance to take the National Safety Officer training course which gave me a little taste of how much there was still to learn. I started to see how powerful a tool knowledge was in my daily work and from there I leapt back into university for a certificate in Occupational Health and Safety. At this point, I had started to get the basics of safety down and I decided to go back to school one more time to get my MBA where I learned how important leadership and soft skills were in shifting from 'the safety guy' to a Safety Professional. I am still continuously seeking new ways to study how to build culture and leadership. The whole point of this is to outline that I study harder now after 15 years in safety than I did when I first started because I know that continuous learning is the only way to become the best version of myself.
I use the following framework to ensure that I am learning in the areas that I need to be.
Focus on two main categories:
- Individual learning - which enhances my individual personal growth because I know that I am at my best when I am thriving both on and off the clock.
- Professional learning - This enhances the skills and knowledge that I need in my professional life which gives me confidence in myself and gains trust with those I lead.
To start it is important to understand why you want to start continuously learning. Then you can start to determine what you need to learn.
- Assess your current skills.
- What are you the strongest in and what do you need the most help with?
- Where do you want to be in 10 and 20 years from now?
- What skills will you need to get there?
- Once you have mapped all of this out, start by setting up 1 year, 3-year, and 5-year learning objectives.
Protip: Make sure you write down your goals in a place where you can find them.
The next step is to take your goals and create a plan for how you will reach them. Start looking for programs, courses or mentors that can assist you in learning the skills you desire. If you can’t find courses and training, start looking for books, podcasts and Youtube videos that can help you learn the skills you require.
Once you have our plan, start putting it into action.
The final step is to review your plan quarterly and update it as required. This is a great time to check back in with your big-picture goals.
Don’t get too worried about next year's learning goals. You may find as you learn new information and skills that your learning goals change.
It is pretty normal for the plan to change as our knowledge grows.
The most important thing is that we are continuously learning and getting better.
We get it in our mind that once we get this one thing figured out then we will be able to do our job and it will get easier. The truth is that we need to be learning every day. Our problems only get more complex the more we know and we need better skills to be able to solve them.
- Figure out why you want to learn in the first place
- Capture what you will need to learn to get to where you want to be in 10 to 20 years
- Set your 1,3 and 5-year learning goals.
- Create your learning plan
- Find the training and materials you need
- Review and update your plan every quarter.
- Finally, remember that learning never stops because the problems only get more complex.
Download the Personal safety involvement so you can learn how to put this amazing tool to work in your company.