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Coaching Employees to Develop Safe Work Habits - Part 2 of 3

Mar 21

Written by:
3/21/2012  RssIcon

On my previous blog I discussed why monitoring your employee’s behaviors at work can help prevent injuries and what you, as a manager, can do about it. Now, let’s talk about how to do it.

One of the first things is to catch people doing things right! This will encourage them to continue the same correct behavior. When you encounter poor work practices, remind employees that working in an unsafe manner is a bad habit that needs changing. However, changing bad habits can be difficult for some of us. It requires concentration, reminders, positive feedback as improvement occurs and time. Simply discussing proper work habits is rarely adequate for a bad habit to change. You can appeal to the individual’s self-interest by following five teaching methods:

1. Describe
2. Demonstrate
3. Practice
4. Feedback
5. Praise correct

In order for behavior to be changed, employees not only need to understand that it makes sense to do things differently, but they also have to be shown that their efforts are recognized and appreciated. With good supervision and an effective orientation program, they can learn through training rather than through personal or witnessed pain. Encourage employee participation in the safety program to increase job performance. Ask for and listen to their ideas and suggestions, as they may very well have solutions that can improve the safety process and increase production. The best ideas for improvement often come directly from the people doing the work.

How you approach employees when correcting poor work practices and habits will determine how effective you are as a supervisor. Coaching workers allows you to monitor their activity and give them positive informal feedback about their progress. In addition, the coaching technique prevents a cycle of negative criticism and helps to avoid the possible formal path of performance improvement plans for purposes of documented progressive discipline.

Stay tuned for Part 3 where I will provide tips on effective coaching.