I’ve taken a bit of a break from creating new podcast episodes, and as I come back to you with this episode, I started reflecting on what happens when you’re gone.
Hey, it’s Andrew, and this is Safety on Tap.
Since you’re listening in, you must be a leader wanting to grow yourself and drastically improve health and safety along the way. Welcome to you, you’re in the right place. If this is your first time listening in, thanks for joining us and well done for trying something different to improve! And of course welcome back to all of you wonderful regular listeners.
I’ve been gone from new podcast production for a few months. It was a break I didn’t think I would need to take decided to take and it got me thinking about what it means for me to be present for you, what it might mean for being absent, and the parallels with health and safety practice.
One of the questions I frequently encourage the professionals I coach to ask the people who they seek to serve, is ‘what does good service look and sound like in practice?’
There isn’t really a correct answer to this question, because it’s designed to become a learning interaction between the professional and the important people in their professional life. This could be a site supervisor, a worker, a project manager or some other manager.
One interesting answer came back: “good service is when you are here everyday. The more you are here, the better”
This professional worked in a role which supported multiple locations, and as such needed to spread their time and attention across multiple places and multiple stakeholders. So quantity was important for this stakeholder, the more time they had their safety person on site the better.
What does that mean exactly? Doesn’t it create a contradiction for us, when we’ve had competing mantras drummed into us like ‘make yourself redundant’ or, one more palatable to me ‘building capability in others to reduce reliance on me’.
So is more better? Or less? And more or less of what?
And what is the link with my reflection on the break from the podcast, what happens when you’re gone?
Well first off, a decent proportion of you will be wondering what the heck I’m talking about because you are not listening to this in late 2022, you do not listen to episodes as they are released, and you may not listen to them in the order that they are released. All of which are perfectly normal and acceptable things!
What happens when I’m gone?
I had kind of baked in a way to anticipate this in the way I’ve created this podcast and nurtured the Safety on Tap Community of listeners. A podcast is gone from my life once it’s released, until it comes up in a future coaching conversation. That podcast might get played by thousands of people. I don’t know them and I don’t know when they listen. They might listen to it a few times. They might share a particularly relevant episode with their team or a friend. One person sent me a message just yesterday saying that they were getting some great insights and good vibes after listening to Ep 192, What is the Purpose of Strategy. In particular they said they appreciated my reflections, in just a couple of words, on what its like when we feel alone as professionals.
So once a podcast is gone from my head and my to-do list, it arrives for someone like you. The back catalogue is there for anyone and everyone. So by taking a break, have I really gone? Sort of no, and sort of yes.
What I think it matters comes down to the value of being present. This is a weekly-more-like-fortnightly-but-don’t-count-too-closely podcast. I’m sure that I’ve disappointed people by not showing up. I’ve not totally disappeared because of the back catalogue, but I’m not exactly present in the way that they, maybe you, have come to expect. So when you’re gone, you might fall short of people’s expectations, you might disappoint them.
One interesting perspective on this idea of being present, is the freshness of your presence. You are there when the concrete pour happened. You showed up to the meeting with the management team. You delivered your project on time and on spec to the people who you promised it to.
And they would miss you if you weren’t there.
There’s a very related argument about the value of novelty – that new stuff is better. It certainly fuels our increasingly materialistic and consumptive society, but the same happens in health and safety teams and professionals – the next initiative, the refreshed processes, the surprising slogans, the flavour of the month which changes next month. New new new.
So I’m not surprised to see that my podcast download stats have taken a little dip, though not a dive. There are still tens of thousands of downloads of that back catalogue, and thousands more every month that I gave you nothing new at all. Which means over the past few months, I haven’t been totally gone from some of your ears. That’s a nice thought for me.
What’s this all mean? What’s the low down for you and I then?
First, I want to say that I am energised, really pumped to be focussing again on creating content for people like us, people like you, which helps you grow and improve. The break has been good for that.
But underneath these reflections, of what happens when you’re gone, are things more fundamental.
I think our job is to be so valued and valuable that people can’t get enough of us. That we are so good at it that people will miss us if we are gone but not be worse off if we are gone. That’s a paradox, something we need to hold in tension.
It’s understandable if we imagine that the opposite of being gone is being there, but that’s not the same as being present. Being present is more than your bodily or physical location and what you do. Being present means to engage fully with the people we are seeking to serve, aligned on their expectations and ours. Bringing new ideas, perspectives, questions or processes might be one way for us to try and keep people’s attention, but being present might actually be a different thing entirely.
Thanks so much for listening. I’d love to hear from you if you want to connect or reconnect, feel free to find me on Linkedin and say hello, or drop me a comment over at safetyontap.com/ep202. While you are there, you can grab a copy of the transcript of this episode if you want to have a read.
Until next time, what’s the one thing you’ll do to take positive, effective or rewarding action, to grow yourself, and drastically improve health and safety along the way?
Before you go, keep listening for a few words about the work which makes this podcast free for you. Seeya!
You’ve probably heard me talk about learning teams, and might be wondering what’s that all about. Learning teams are an increasingly popular practical activity to help your organisation to learn better, in order to improve performance.
It’s not an investigation, it’s not a risk assessment, and it’s not a committee meeting – but a learning team approach can help to learn from the past, anticipate the future, and engage effectively with people all over your organisation or supply chain.
There’s not one way to do learning teams but some critical principles which will enable you to facilitate better learning whatever your situation.
I’ve created a few short videos which explain What is a learning team? If you’re interested visit safetyontap.com/what
Transcript – Ep202: When You’re Gone, with Andrew Barrett
Feel free to share this with your team/colleagues!