Monday, March 24, 2008

Tips for Talking Safety to the CEO

Selling a safety program to management ...

"What do you do if your organization's CEO questions the return on investment of safety and health programs? How would you negotiate safety programs into your organization's long-term business plan?

These questions were asked of safety managers gathered at the American Society of Safety Engineer's conference, The Business of Safety: A Matter of Success held in Baltimore March 13 and 14. The overall theme of the conference explored ways to help safety professionals enhance communication with management and secure a seat at the financial and strategic planning table.

Following are several gems of insight from attendees and presenters at the conference to answer those two questions.

Be strategic-minded. Be strategic-minded and professional in all dealings with the organization's executives; they generally do not like emotional responses to their questions or inquiries, according to Michael Behm, PhD, CSP. Be prepared to present current costs and benefits with projections that show the outcome of a "keep everything as it is" scenario, and the costs/benefits of one or more alternative plans with projected outcomes. Include your recommendation and the justification (e.g., documentation, calculations, expert support) for your proposal.

Ask for help. Tap resources within your own organization for help preparing your proposals in the format and business language preferred by the executive team. If they prefer spreadsheets and charts for interpreting financial information, learn to use spreadsheets and charts to present proposals.

Be clear when discussing financial values and when discussing intangible values. Make it clear when you are discussing monetary or financial cost/benefits and when you are addressing non-financial or less tangible values like company reputation, employee morale, or ethical considerations."    (Continued via BLR)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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