Who among us hasn’t had a parent tell us at one time or another to do something…”because I said so“. No logic or rational argument. No Oprah moment of sharing and DIALOGUE with the conclusion being a collaborative solution where both parties feel respected and validated. NOPE. Because I said so is the conversational equivalent of the slammed door. It’s my way or the highway.
Parents can get away with this tactic; the world is a fast-moving complex place. Sometimes ‘dialogue’ is a nice-to-have and immediate, bottom-line results are the must have. We all understand why this happens; I am sure some of us have used the ‘because I said so’ go-to technique in a pinch….it gets results.
In the workplace, the ‘because I said so’ technique evolved into the Command & Control style of management. This philosophy is about strong centralized leadership aggressively leading and micro-managing all aspects of the employees working existence. This approach has fallen out of favor (thankfully) and most managers will tell you that they take an Empowerment approach to management. Set clear goals, provide your teams with the tools to reach those goals and GET OUT OF THE WAY. (with the exception of periodic reviews, employee driven). As consultants, the ERGOLAB team is brought in to launch new programs with new ideas around Employee Health & Safety. When we are brought in to launch a new Ergonomics program, we often find that the current management state-of-affairs falls well short of the Empowerment nirvana. Employees are every company’s first level of customer; if they don’t believe in you, who will?
Successful Ergonomic programs start and end with employee trust, participation and support. Following are some ideas to ensuring success of your Ergonomic program efforts – be sure not to practice ‘because I said so Ergonomics’!
Utter transparency will deliver TRUST. When launching a new Ergonomics program; be candid about the investment. Tell them what you expect to gain from the program and how it might impact them and their jobs. Change is scary, especially today, with concerns about job security and cost cutting. A few weeks ago, the ERGOLAB team completed a Pain and Discomfort survey on behalf of a leading consumer products manufacturer. Our team was asked to map the existing pain and discomfort across a community of production employees, towards identifying work tasks that trigger or amplify employee pain. What we were not prepared for, was the level of apprehension within the survey participants. Employees thought the data would drive future lay-off decisions; rather than workplace improvements that would improve the quality of their life.
LESSON LEARNED – over communicate the launch of a new Ergonomics program. Surface any issues and roadblocks prior to program launch. Build a reputation internally for consistently communicating the unvarnished truth, no more, no less.
Just as you build ‘marketing communication campaigns to woo prospects, customers, shareholders and the press; so too should you build communication strategies that address the mind share and heart share of your employee communities. How your employees FEEL about your company, your value proposition, your management practices factor into long-term success. At ERGOLAB, we integrate Communication and Education Planning into EVERY Ergonomic program.
Involve and engage affected employees in the development and on-going management of Ergonomic programs. Don’t make the mistake of building the solutions OUTSIDE of the employee community. Your employees are closet to the work itself, who better to surface ideas and suggestions for process improvement? What form can this participation take;
- Create a company-wide Ergonomics committee with representation from all parts of the enterprise. Health & Safety leadership should chair committee, but an equal voice and vote should be afforded all committee members.
- Task Evaluation and Redesign should always be driven by the hands-on employee teams.
- Employees should participate in the brainstorming and program development of Communication & Education Plan.
- Train the Trainer programs; transfer program knowledge to internal team members. Any message is more powerful and impactful when delivered by a departmental peer.
4. REWARDS / RECOGNITION
Recognize and reward employees for support of program; catch employees engaging in the ‘right’ actions and behaviors. Showcase and merchandise these internal success stories within the Communication Plan – make the employees the heroes in all successes. Management MUST take a back seat.
- Expand employee job descriptions and objectives to include adherence to and support of Ergonomic initiatives.
- Identify expanded roles within departmental teams – ensure team members receive recognition (title and compensation) for this expanded role.
Avoid the pitfalls of ‘Because I said so’ Ergonomics; expanded employee involvement and investment will ensure program success and have immediate impact of your facility’s safety and bottom line.
Any questions on this, feel free to contact our ERGOLAB team. I can be reached at email@example.com or via phone at 401.527.7047.