There is a huge stigma in some industries surrounding injury reporting between employee and manager. Some employees will not communicate problems with managers until the issue becomes too big to handle because of fear of consequences, job loss, loss of bonuses, etc. However, throughout most companies, this is not the case. So how do we convince employees that early communication is better for all involved? You gotta build the relationship.
Building relationships is not easy, it’s not quick, and it requires consistent nurturing.
As a former manager, I learned very quickly that it is difficult to deal with situations when you don’t know what you don’t know. It was my responsibility to make sure I knew what was going on in both the clinic and the office. I had to have effective communication with my team, and that didn’t come as easy as I thought.
If you want your employees to report problems early, you first have to show them you give a damn about their well being. Not TELL them, but SHOW them. Some companies do full scale company wide training problems, wellness, give out swag, lunches, etc, which is great from a overall perspective, but what can you do as their immediate manager? What can you do for your people that is unique and personal and doesn’t look like it’s “coming from corporate.” Sometimes even a simple, “What can I do to make you be successful?” or “What can I do for you that will help us accomplish x?” or even a “What can I do better to assure that x doesn’t happen again?” It might take some time for employees to open up answers for questions like these because they will literally be taken aback, but keep at it. Take the responsibility. Check the ego. It will go a long way in getting what you want.
You have to be involved. You can’t sit in the sidelines while your people are busting their tails trying to get something done. Yes, I know, you have paperwork and meetings and other obligations that do require your time and maybe your people don’t “fully understand” that, but in order to be successful, you have to be successful together. When I managed a clinic a few years ago, I was managing a staff and a full caseload of patients. But when the office staff got overloaded with end of the month claims, I helped clean bathrooms and vacuum. I occasionally picked up a patient for my assistant if they got behind on notes. I wanted to do whatever it took for us to meet our goals, and by me jumping in and helping, my staff did the same for me.
Lastly, you need to make sure your employees have the tools they need to be successful. You provided training one time two years ago on proper lifting mechanics, don’t you think it would be a good time to have a refresher? What if your employees had some one on one time or small group training that is more personal and specific to their needs? Sure, you are going to have the one or two that may try and take advantage of situations like this, but you will have that at the beginning until you have developed a higher level of status quo. Is your company ready to raise the bar with more specific and individualized programs to help elevate the individual employee?
Being a leader is not easy. You have to manage not just yourself and job tasks, but your whole team. If you want to be respected as a leader, you really do have to earn it. You have to learn to be the ultimate teammate.
Hey! Want to know my favorite leadership book? Check out Extreme Ownership by Retired Navy Seals Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.
Want to learn more about building team rapport and staying safe at the same time?! Check us out here!