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Nod your head if you approve

By Mari-Len De Guzman

The study surveyed more than 3,600 workers from 291 organizations in the U.S. and Canada, asking them about their relationship with their boss, their personal effectiveness, overall management effectiveness and other workforce issues.

Two-thirds of all respondents say they have too little interaction with their boss – whether positive or negative. While 67 per cent say they get too little positive feedback, 51 per cent say they get too little constructive criticism from the boss.

What does this tell us? It tells us that workers care about what their leaders think and say about them.

According to the Leadership IQ study, a wordless pat on the back as a sign of acknowledgement for a job well done is meaningless to the recipient. Fifty-three per cent of respondents say that when they get praised for excellent performance, the feedback they get does not provide enough information to help them repeat their good work.

The same is true for those on the other side of the table. The study reveals that 65 per cent of employees say they are not given enough feedback by their leadership to help them improve on a poor performance.

In short, whether good or bad, workers need to hear it straight from their managers. Sounds familiar?

In safety management, we know that constant recognition of a job well done and done safely goes a long way in influencing positive and consistent safe behaviour. We also know that holding people accountable and calling them out when they’re taking shortcuts and putting their lives and those of others at risk are part of what makes a safety culture work.

In people management, the same principle applies. The bottomline is consistent and meaningful interaction. And I don’t mean just nodding your head when you approve or throwing dagger looks when you see something undesirable.

You just never know what kind of enlightenment a little conversation with your workers might bring. Are your workers happy or dissatisfied? Could that have to do with how your company is performing, in general? 

Are they distracted? Recent studies are indicating more employees are showing up for work but are not really “there.” It’s called, presenteeism, and writer Rosie Lombardi discusses this on page 14 of our November/December 2009 issue. 

The key is conversation. Talking to the workers about the good and the bad side of work is always more helpful than just a mere gesture. After all, we’re not all gifted mental telepathists.

On a somewhat related note, we would like to extend our congratulations to Monica Mellor of DC Foods Inc. in Waterloo, Ont., for winning this year’s Safety Leader of the Year Award. Mellor knows a thing or two about improving communications between management and employees to promote safety in the workplace.

Happy Holidays and a Prosperous New Year to all!

Mari-Len De Guzman

Mari-Len De Guzman is the former editor of Canadian Occupational Safety magazine and
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