10 Minutes and a Cup of Coffee
By Josh Williams, Ph.D.
Providing effective peer feedback for safety is one of the best ways to prevent serious injuries and fatalities. Employees understand the job and generally know when someone is putting themselves at risk. Plus, supervisors and managers aren’t always around when people are doing something dangerous.
Unfortunately, giving and receiving peer-to-peer safety feedback can be difficult. Employees may be reluctant to give safety feedback because they’ve never done it before, think it’s a supervisor’s or EHS’s job, lack confidence in their ability to provide good feedback, or worry that employees will be offended. Too many people take safety feedback as a personal affront instead of an act of kindness. Here are some tips to make these interactions go more smoothly:
– Give the feedback one-on-one so no one gets embarrassed.
– Be friendly, positive and respectful.
– Focus on risk potential, not safety rules.
– Ask questions to facilitate discussion.
– Show genuine concern for others’ well-being.
– Work together to find better solutions.
– Thank the person for listening.
– Praise the good things you also see.
It also helps to have courage and patience. In one company we worked with, a young employee told a story about getting yelled at by a coworker after giving him safety feedback. It turns out the coworker had just been yelled at by his supervisor and took it out on the new employee. This employee told us that a few minutes after their unpleasant exchange, the coworker brought him a cup of coffee and apologized.
They discussed the incident at their next safety meeting and decided to create polo shirts for employees with the slogan “Ten Minutes and a Cup of Coffee” stitched on the sleeve below a picture of a coffee mug. This was designed to remind people that patience and understanding is needed when giving and receiving safety feedback and to reinforce the importance of being respectful during these feedback sessions. Employees wore the shirts proudly to show their support for a brothers’/sisters’ keeper work environment.
Take steps today to reinforce peer-to-peer safety feedback. It improves group cohesion and may save a life!
At Propulo, we provide communication training to improve peer safety feedback. Let us help you today.