Improving inadequate areas

In Health and Safety, July 20222 MinutesBy Tracey MurphyAugust 5, 2022

Our approach to communication and the management of team members goes a long way to creating a positive work culture.

Sometimes we see or hear things that make us roll our eyes and want to bang our heads against the proverbial brick wall. As owners, directors and managers, we believe that we have given our teams all the tools they need to complete a job safely, efficiently and effectively.

When we see or hear of work that needs to be redone, mishaps that seem ridiculous and general tardiness, we often use the stick approach to resolve the situation. We shout (hopefully not?), create checklists, and generally micromanage the work or the person to get an improved outcome. Micromanaging removes a person’s autonomy and sense of control over their situation. It is inclined to make many people resentful, and can result in worse attitudes, performance and potential resignations.

Another approach is to talk to the team and ask them why they are doing what they want. There is usually a reason: address that reason, and the problem goes away. Some years ago, on a training course, I heard about a construction site where work was falling behind. The culture on site was poor, which didn’t help. When the matter was discussed with the team, they revealed that there were inadequate tools for the number of workers. The obvious solution, to them, was to hide the tools once they had them. Once this was resolved, quality work was completed at the expected pace.

It’s much more productive to ask a person why they aren’t wearing their hi-viz than it is to shout an order at them. They may have just forgotten, or there may be a valid reason. Either way, the matter can be resolved quickly and easily with goodwill on both sides.

An additional benefit is that the team will be more comfortable approaching owners, directors and managers before it becomes an issue if there is a problem.