So, you think you have a good reporting culture & an open consultative workplace.

One test that will clarify this is, is to look at the reaction to the ubiquitous ‘stupid questions’.

If you have a work environment that belittles someone who asks a so called dumb question, or if they are left to bask in the embarrassment alone & unsupported then you probably don’t have a positive culture that is trying to continuously improve.

The team members who ask these questions are often the innovators & will think outside the box. They’re not weak, but actually quite brave. They’ll be the ones most likely to challenge the status quo & speak up when they see the emperor has no new clothes. When we are talking HSEQ, speaking up can be a matter of life or death! It can mean preventing catastrophic harm to the environment or the organisations bottom line. Failing to see these issues coming because of a culture that prevents those who see it from speaking up when others don’t is just plain bad for business.

So I challenge any workplace to be introspective next time someone is brave enough to ask a question. Look inside to see why they could interpret it that way, & nurture those who speak up about those challenging topics. Look for the related weakness of your systems.

Then you’ll be best positioned to prevent a disaster before getting run over by it. Fix the weakness the “stupid question” is highlighting because it’s a free lesson if you chose to use it.