The fifth blog in our series on implementing a Behavioural Based Safety System discusses how to involve your people…
The good news is that it’s common sense and so obvious that a lot of
managers don’t bother to do it. But you should, because your people can make you look great or pretty dumb, so the choice is yours…
‘What do I have to do?’ I hear you say – Firstly, clearly and simply explain what outcome you want. While you might understand your ‘vision’, your people don’t so they’re going to need it explained… Secondly, give them the resources to do the job. You wouldn’t expect a mechanic to fix your car without a spanner, and maybe a hammer… so it is with your plan. Give people what they need. YOU don’t necessarily know what they need, so don’t let you be the one to TELL them, ask them instead.
Thirdly, communicate clearly simply again and again. If you thought they listened to you first time round, you’re wrong – they didn’t. They’re still in shock and worrying about the implications of your announcements for themselves. They need reassurance and explanation, time and time again… remember they’re not stupid, but they’ve just got different priorities to you and they see things differently. Use training sessions, memos, newsletters, FAQs, and regular meetings or social events can all be used to present your ambition to your people. Remember to ask questions and LISTEN (remember last week’s blog entry). If they’ve not understood, then choose to communicate in a new way to make sure the information reaches them….
Fourthly, get everyone engaged…. you can do this by letting them be the ones to do the planning and the decision making. Ask for their input and use their ideas. If you’ve set out your ambition clearly then they’ll understand and it needs to be THEM who take the project in the right direction. This way, they have a vested interest in seeing the project succeed. This can not only empower and motivate people, it can also lead to better ways of working that could otherwise be overlooked.
Fifth – Feedback is another great motivator so don’t wait for their annual review – tell them how they’re doing. Positive feedback should be given right away, to encourage more of the same performance. Negative feedback should also be given promptly but sympathetically too, so that people have the opportunity to change their approach. Schedule weekly meetings with individuals to discuss any ongoing issues. These meetings don’t have to take a lot of time but they can build strong working relationships. Don’t forget to thank people BOTH as a group and individually. A well timed ‘Lynda, I just want to thank you for what you’ve been doing on this project up to now’ is way more powerful than ‘Well done folks, lets have more of the same next week’.
Sixth – Act fairly, respect, and create an atmosphere of trust and a supportive environment. When problems do arise – and they will – examine them, understand the context and only then pass judgement. It could be that YOU have made a mistake somewhere along the line, so if you have, then admit it. Yes, admit it… your people will appreciate your honesty.
Lastly – Try ever so hard – please, really try to make work fun. There’s no need to be corny or stupid just smile, be friendly and be happy to be at work. We do so much of it, it shouldn’t be a pain…and anyway, people get a lot more done when they enjoy themselves.