Nobody Told Me What To Do

What’s the number one excuse you hear on a daily basis?  Chances are, as leaders in the risk management and construction industry, we’ve heard them all.  Last week it was “I didn’t know…” this week “Nobody told me how to do my job.”

How do we combat excuses?  As leaders in the industry and as the ones looking out after all the boots on the ground, we have to establish a safe space for our team members to be vulnerable and ask questions.  It has to be OK to look stupid in front of our peers by asking things that we should all know (within reason of course).  If we don’t have that freedom to look and feel stupid without feeling the wrath of “the boys,” then sooner or later, something is going to happen because someone didn’t feel that they could “STOP” action and ask a question.

Everybody has to have the freedom to ask questions, even if they’re dumb.  Everybody should have the freedom to appear dumb for a moment and not be ashamed for trying to be safe.

Additionally, as a team, if we’re not stopping on a regular basis to catch our breath and complete a Job Safety Assessment (JSA), then we may be missing some critical details such as slight changes in the weather, other environmental components, equipment capabilities and performance, or basic communication issues and timelines for the team.

Unfortunately, not only are we working against equipment that is always breaking down and conditions that are less than favorable (at times), but also that subversive part of human nature that always wants to take the easy way out and maintain appearances.  That’s why excuses dominate the landscape when accidents happen.

If you want a solid mentorship program in your team, it needs to start with emotional safety to be wrong, put out ideas that don’t always make sense, and to learn from our mistakes (hopefully before they are actually made).  Without a strong sense of cohesiveness and a willingness to communicate, you’ll always be pushing water uphill as you battle human nature to take the easy way out.

Avoid the “easy way out” by offering a better solution: solidarity born out of the attitude of people who truly care for each other.  This starts with you as a leader, everyday, making sure that people are taken care of and know that they are cared for.  Whether or not you have an official leadership role within your team, you can make a difference in their lives on a daily basis.  In the end, you may be contributing to the greatest accomplishment your team has ever experienced: another safe day where team members go home to their families.

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