Who is the one person you would call at 3:00 a.m.?
You know who I am talking about. If you don’t have that person…who would they need to be to you?
Often people will list a: best friend, sibling, family member, etc.
When you ask yourself “why this person?” you can’t help but get similar responses to the question.
· Because I know they’ll pick up
· I know they would be there for me when I needed them
· I know they wouldn’t tell anyone
· They could keep a secret
What you’re really saying is:
I trust this person and they make me feel safe.
Trust means many things to different people, but at its core it’s being there when people need them and being able to listen to them.
When I say you make them feel safe, what I am saying is that they can communicate freely without concern for repercussions.
The most important people in our lives are those that allow us to speak and be ourselves while knowing they are there for us regardless of the situation.
Which is also why it hurts so much when that same person violates that trust or makes you feel small because what you thought was safe to say no longer was. Examples in our lives are: a divorce, losing a friend, losing a job, etc.
The reason I ask this question is because on February 17 a client called me and our conversation was about this very topic.
My client owns a transportation company with around 75 employees and recently noticed that he was having issues with a particular set of employees. For the past year it seemed like the relationship between the company and this group of employees was on a downward slide.
In addition, one of these employees reported an injury to WCB without telling the company and the company was facing a lost time claim.
As we spoke, I asked some questions to help get an understanding of the situation and then the conversation turned to the company.
I told him point blank: “Your employees don’t trust you and they don’t feel safe to speak with you.”
The client started to get upset. He couldn’t understand how that could happen when he tries to do whatever he can to make his company a better place to work at.
Through the conversation he realized that as the owner of the smaller company he relied on folks in positions of leadership to run the day to day and look after the employees.
As the past year went by and his business grew…he grew further away from the employees. Which meant he heard less about what they needed and was asking front line management to meet the employees needs.
Slowly those that had been with the company a long time and enjoyed the “family atmosphere” began to lose more and more trust with the company. Their concerns fell on deaf ears, things management said they would do never got done, the excuses piled up, and eventually it was about the number and not the person.
This led to a breakdown of safety in communication and the employees began looking out for their own interests. In response, the company did the same. Putting in more rules and measures to control the problem instead of finding a way to come to a solution as a group. To repair the relationship.
When we discussed this naturally the owner wanted to know…how do I even start? This seems like such a mess.
To begin to repair trust & safety in a relationship you want to:
1. Listen – Find out what’s the issue your employees are having.
2. Make them feel heard – Nothing is worse than asking a question and then while the person talking or having told you about the problem, they walk away feeling like that was a waste of time. This half-way attempt at solving a problem just to “shut us up”. Tell them what you intend to do about what they said to you.
3. Do it! – You have to do what you say you’re going to do. Trust in companies are built in a “show me” scenario and the company has to go first. You need to show your employees by implementing the feedback you received. I don’t mean all of it, but the parts that make the most sense for your company and current culture/status.
4. Be there when I need you – Look if I have a problem, I must know you’ll be there for me. In the case of injured workers, I must know:
a. My job is safe
b. That you’re willing to help me get better
c. That you care about me and my family
Saying you care about health and safety and preventing injuries is great. The proof is in what happens after I get hurt. Once an injury occurs this is where I need you the most. Can I count on you to be there for me?
5. Communicate – Make it feel safe for information to flow up and down the chain of command. Doing so will ensure that management will always be one step ahead of the problem and employees can improve the company through ideas and suggestions by feeling safe to share with you.
The owner of this company found time to meet with employees and ask them the hard questions. At a time of growth, he couldn’t afford to lose good people that helped him get here.
He found time to meet with employees and ask questions. What he found out in these conversations allowed him to address leadership issues with front line supervision. This improved production and profits.
The other feedback was around how workers were treated when they got injured. Leading to the implementation of a WCB program. The program allowed workers to receive the proper treatment in a timely manner.
It reduced the amount of time workers were injured and the number of incidents reported. In addition, the anxiety that came with dealing with worker issues or speaking with WCB also went away.
Often times, looking at a company and the way they respond to an incident result in the spotlight shining on a much bigger problem in another area of the company.
The training and coaching we provide clients has helped them not only with WCB, but improved profits through better leadership and management of their employees.
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Thank you again for taking the time to read, and I hope you have a safe day!