A group of workers smile and nod their heads while the safety trainer gives the “toolbox safety talk” but the moment the trainer finishes and begins to walk away something almost always happens. One person in the assembled group will make a rude hand gesture, involving one raised middle finger, at the back of the trainer. Smirking, and looking into the faces of the others, he (or she) will say, “Who’s that to tell us what to do?”
This bully has taken authority by trashing the safety talk. They have defined, in a single gesture, that it won’t be “macho” to follow the advice. They have completely undermined the whole program in this way.
R3Results can help you win the contest to see who defines the culture in the company: those who want to build a better company, or those who want to tear it down. If confronted directly, the bully would just make light of it and say he was only joking around. To succeed in this battle, you need to show the good workers what is in it for them and what is in their best interests.
Without naming names, you can assemble the employees and ask them who it is they owe their real loyalty to? They owe it to themselves and to their families. If they get injured, it hurts them and their ability to support their family. They certainly don’t owe any loyalty to someone who is smirking and suggesting they break the safety rules. Also, as a company in a tightly competitive world, the company with the least accidents is the one that survives, and provides the best job security. It’s a weight off the shoulders of the good workers when the bully is overthrown. The next step is to have workers give one another permission to bring up safety issues when they observe them about one another throughout the day. Finally, when everyone knows that the best, most efficient, most macho (or macha as the case may be) tradespeople or craftspersons happen to follow and enforce safety, then the culture has been won.
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