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Lynne Curry: Try to relate safety to what employees care about most

Bill Roth

Question:

I run a small construction company. One of my most talented crew members takes occasional safety risks. I've told him I'll fire him if I catch him violating procedure - in any way - again.

I don't want to fire him. I realize some of the risks he takes are because I rely on him to make up time on critical projects. While part of me appreciates his stepping to the plate, I don't want him getting hurt. How do I get through to him?

Answer:

He takes risks because he can. He knows he can get away with safety violations, not just because you're ambivalent, but because he's skilled enough that he can take occasional risks without getting hurt. Unfortunately, even the most skilled workers who take safety risks play Russian Roulette; one day he may pay with an injury or his life.

You can get through to him if you find out what matters to him and make him think about how taking risks compromises what matters.

What matters to him? Is it being the best he can be, going home to his little girl or making as much money as possible? What matters may or may not be his job. If it isn't, then your threat won't work.

Next, tie what matters to safety. For example, if he cares about his fellow crew members, ask him if they look up to him. If he says, "Of course," then ask if the example he sets when he violates procedures might lead a co-worker to try his safety shortcut. By asking him questions, you'll make him think, which works better than simply restating the policy.

Question:

I quit my job two months ago. I thought I could get a new job pretty easily. Getting hired has always been easy for me; I interview well. But this time I had a hard time even getting an interview.

Then last week two employers called. I had an interview Monday and another employer scheduled me for an interview Thursday. The Monday employer called me Tuesday and offered me the job. I asked if I could have some time to think it over. When they asked how long, I explained that I had an interview scheduled for Thursday and wanted until then.

They abruptly withdrew their offer. I immediately tried to accept the job. They said, "Sorry, no." Is this normal?

Answer:

Most employers feel comfortable giving an applicant 24 hours to consider a job offer. By asking for two days and explaining you wanted them to wait so you could see what might happen with another employer, you signaled their job was a fallback choice. Under those circumstances, they didn't want you.

Question:

I thought I had a solid job offer until the prospective employer did a background check. When they learned that I'd been arrested, they withdrew their offer. When I called the Human Rights Commission, I was told employers can't use arrests as a reason not to hire me. I called the employer back with this information but still didn't get hired.

Answer:

Employers generally can't deny an applicant a job because of an arrest record -- an arrest doesn't prove an applicant engaged in criminal conduct.

Occasionally, however, employers can refuse to hire applicants for jobs when the arrest relates to job duties. For example, an arrest for embezzlement may preclude you from being hired for a job managing bank accounts. Or an arrest involving violence may result in you being denied a job where you go to clients' or customers' homes.

Dr. Lynne Curry is a management/employee trainer and owner of the consulting firm The Growth Company Inc. Send your questions to her at lynne@thegrowthcompany.com. You can follow Lynne on Twitter @lynnecurry10 or through www.workplacecoachblog.com

 



By LYNNE CURRY