As soon as I opened my mouth at the start of the first meeting working with a new client—a mining company—I was abruptly interrupted by the head of HR.
“Sorry Christine, but I may have neglected to mention that we always start our meetings with a ‘safety share.’” I must have given her quite a strange look, given we were in the boardroom of a very nice building. I couldn’t imagine what safety precautions would need to be taken for this meeting.
The HR head polled each person in the room and asked for a “safety share.” Each person shared an instance in the last few weeks in which they took extra precautions that demonstrated their commitment to safety. One person explained how they went back to double check if their stove was off. Another spent extra time with their team to walk them through the safest process to use when exiting a mining site. A third walked the fire escape route with her new team member to ensure they knew where it was. I was intrigued by this meeting initiation process.
After the meeting, the head of HR explained that the CEO was fully committed to having zero fatalities in her business. In the mining industry this is a serious commitment. The CEO saw a need for a shift in mindset, shifting people from just focusing on work tasks. She wanted to emphasize that work always starts with safety. She knew that starting meetings with a “safety share,” it would eventually sink in, creating a workplace culture that could truly prioritize safety over all other items.
The next week, I was preparing to drive my daughter to school during a blizzard. Although I was only driving her one city block to school on that cold winter day, I realized that I had quickly clasped her seat belt straps and headed for the driver’s seat. Before I had time to open my own car door, I stopped in my tracks… it was as if that safety share process had worn off on me! I turned around and headed back to check my daughter’s seat belt straps again. Even with the blustery wind causing her to cry, I spent a few extra moments tightening down her seat belt straps to ensure she was firmly held tight in her car seat. As I drove her to school, I remember being so proud that I, too, would have something to share during our next meeting when it was time for the “safety share.”
Fast forward, and I’m now working with numerous leaders who are burnt out and their teams are spent. They are hiring me to come in and “train their people” on how to be resilient. Resilience is an interesting idea; you can inspire someone, but it’s tough to train someone. Resilience is a mindset and it’s how one makes choices to prioritize their energy and health against the pressing demands of their jobs, families, and other outside factors.
I was working with one client, and we were trying to find a way to really embed the resilience training I had done within the culture of her organization. It dawned on me. “What about a resilience share?”
I told my client about my experience with the mining company and it immediately clicked. “Yes!” She said “I could start each of my Friday team meetings with a resilience share.”
So it began, each week she started her team meeting by asking each team member to share one thing they did that week to take care of themselves, rejuvenate, or re-energize. Speaking with her team, she was honest about the fact that she had been ditching her home office on Fridays at noon to walk her dog. Another leader shared that he had been heading to his cottage on Thursday nights and enjoying a bike ride along the beach on Friday mornings. Others admitted to having lunch ordered in with their spouses. Although I wasn’t invited to that meeting, I always imagined myself telling her team about how I booked out 90 minutes for lunch once a week to go kayak with my husband in the middle of the day.
Prioritizing your own practices, sharing them and creating a culture that gives permission for people to prioritize their mental health; now this is how you teach resilience.