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If you ask any six safety professionals what the primary thing you need to know about safety is, you’ll get nine answers.

The first thing you need to know?

The idea and profession of safety exist because you can get hurt.

Too blunt? Sorry. It’s the truth.

If you are not safe – you will eventually get hurt.

What every person wants…

There is a lot of talk out there about what everyone wants, men and women, children, leaders, laborers, clerks and managers. We manage to talk about how each one wants something different until we just walk away from the discussion, shaking our heads, not having gained any ground. Yet, from experience, and I am reminding you of your own experience, not just mine, we all want one one thing: respect. And we want that respect not just for our existence, but for our knowledge and experience. Striving for respect is what makes us try harder.

There is the opposite of respect, disrespect, that can demoralize a person in a heartbeat.  Yet you can take that very same circumstance, handle it slightly differently, and you can boost the morale of that person and others around them.

Lessons are best learned from a story format, and so this is the story of two different managers, supervisors, whatever you want to call them.

Jerry had messed up on the job. He knew he had messed up when he did it. When Mark, his supervisor, found out about it (through other people) he went through the roof and hammered Jerry verbally in front of his co-workers and other supervisors. Jerry got defensive saying “I didn’t know how to do it any differently.” which only caused Mark to belittle him more, saying he should have asked and there is no dumb question and used several other cliches which people just tuned out. Jerry was thoroughly embarrassed. He had tried to do his best but it had not worked out and he was trying to learn how not to do this again, but the result was – disrespect. Which stung Jerry. And it showed when he went home. His wife asked him to tell her about his day. She knew there was an issue.  Co-workers were just glad they hadn’t received the tongue lashing.

In a different department, Roger screwed up. Roger went directly to his boss, Jaime, who dealt with the situation  a little differently. Jaime started by asking Roger “Why had this happened?” Jaime knew who was at fault, but he had two other priorities: 1) make sure the repair was done properly and 2) make sure that future repairs of that same type were done without incident.

The truth is, Jaime’s priorities should have been Mark’s as well. Here is how Jaime handled the situation. First, after checking around he discovered that no one else was qualified to make the repair. So he took Roger into his office and did a little training by first letting Roger know that they might discuss the situation more later, in private, but that right now they really had to get this repair done, and so he, Jaime, was going to work with Mark to make sure it got done right. He made sure that this was training, and that Mark was not to feel like he was being micro-managed.

What do you think the results were once Mark successfully made the repair? The word got out that Jaime really isn’t a bad sort of person. In fact, he would help if you just asked. So, even though Mark felt bad for screwing up, he gained new knowledge by learning how to effect the repair and he gained respect for his boss. As word spread, both Mark and Jaime’s levels of respect went up among the crew. And people felt safer going to Jaime before there was an incident.

Mark, on the other hand, still struggles with “those idiots that don’t ask…and what were they thinkin’?”

So what’s your management style?
How much do you respect your people?
How much do you think they respect you? Or, asked another way, do they feel safe enough to talk to you before issues become unmanageable?


Those of you that have known me for any length of time know that I am an intense people watcher.  I love watching people interact with each other and through their body language alone try to determine if not their content, at least their mood and how they are feeling.

It turns out that our bodies communicate with us as well, and can change our own minds.  Take 21 minutes and learn a bit more about how our body language speaks to our own beliefs about power and worth in this video from Amy Cuddy at TED.com.

SOME of us also have an overabundance of testosterone and and may actually need to figure out – and test – a pose that helps dial it back without looking wimpy. Work on that.

Try these techniques when you go to your next meeting, whatever that may be.  Post a comment here to let me know how that worked for you.