Speak Up, Listen Up

By Richard Moore, VP, Strategy and Continuous Improvement

A benefit of having CAT Safety Services partner with us on our journey to safety excellence is their broad base of experience and the training materials they have developed as a result. Our Safety Steering Team began training on one particular component last fall. The SST felt so strongly about the training results, the materials were included in our safety training during ATA.

Every member of our team encounters potentially dangerous situations daily. Most of those situations are caused by at-risk behaviors. How those situations are handled could easily transform our safety mindset and program to one of partnership, rather than one of conflict or, worse, injury.

SPEAK UP, LISTEN UP is just as simple as it sounds. When any of us see unsafe behaviors, we all have the empowerment and responsibility to say something. Assuming a teammate knows their behavior is unsafe could be the very thing that gets someone hurt.

CAT Safety gives us Three Steps to Giving Feedback:

  1. Ask:
    a. Why are you doing that?
    b. May I share my concerns?
  2.  Get a commitment:
    a. Can you and I work together to find a safer way to accomplish the task?
    b. Will you commit to work safely?
  3.  Follow up:
    a. Make sure your teammate is working safely.
    b. Never give up.
    c. Offer positive feedback when you witness safe working behaviors.

Confronting potentially unsafe behavior does not need to be confrontational. When we use respect in speaking to our teammates, they will usually respond in kind. Remember, offering this type of feedback is all about respect, for yourself, your teammates and anyone else who may be on our job sites. However, we are not responsible for how the other person reacts.

Receiving feedback, whether from our superiors or our peers, can be surprising. It may catch you off-guard and even offend you. Take a breath and assume the person SPEAKING UP cares enough about you to potentially put themselves in a position that is uncomfortable for them, too. Make a commitment to LISTEN UP and examine the thing you were doing that gave someone else cause for concern.

Two steps to receiving feedback:

  1. Listen:
    a. to the message.
    b. for the facts.
    c. to get clarification. Ask questions, if needed.
  2. Commit:
    a. to agree on a safer way.
    b. to perform your tasks in the way agreed upon.
    c. to follow it up.

Like our LIVE SAFE WORK SAFE program, communication is something that can be improved upon. The first time each of us SPEAKS UP or LISTENS UP may be uncomfortable, or even difficult. Focus on HUMILITY and put the person you’re speaking with first. Our goal is always to do our jobs well, improve and go home to our loved ones safely every day.

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