Tag Archives: team building

How to Train Remote Workers as Teams

With COVID-19 disrupting business, most employees in the insurance and insurtech industries have been forced to work from home. We are on week 12 of having most of our employees working remotely. 

Working from home has its challenges on the best of days. Now throw in your partner working beside you and perhaps add some children into the mix. Or maybe you’re living alone and talking to your house plants.

Longtime physical distance can lead to emotional isolation and stress, especially during a pandemic, with all the health worries about children, parents and grandparents. It behooves employers to make a human connection to their people when they most need it.

We emphasize team-building and connection as a key component of our corporate culture. Implementing tools and activities that keep employees connected, interested and feeling heard is critical to long-term success, now more than ever. Teams large and small worldwide have had to dramatically shift operations and quickly adapt to how they work. 

Remote work culture is here to stay, with many technology organizations expressing long-term interest in work-from-home options for their staff. Some of the team-building activities recommended in our first blog may not be feasible with social distancing. But there are several ways companies can leverage digital tools to check in on employees and promote active participation and keep them engaged and still feeling part of the team.

Fortunately, we’ve always had staff working remotely using web-based tools. We had tested all of our teams remotely before the outbreak. So we were ready, and the process was almost seamless. 

Here are a few activities and tools that you too can use to maintain a sense of team connection while we work apart. 

Check in with your employees 

With everyone at home, you aren’t organically interacting with your team throughout the day. Infrequent email correspondence removes a layer of connection and can also increase miscommunication. 

Instead, make sure employees are kept up to date with consistent communication that works for your business, such as daily video touchpoints and weekly emails. This is a turbulent time for many, affecting everyone in different ways. Make a point to check in with individual team members to see how they are doing and ensure they are properly supported. 

Make virtual meetings fun

Virtual teams don’t get to enjoy coffee-break talk, foosball or quick chatter between meetings. Maintaining fun social interactions between team members is crucial. 

Use video calls, meetings and touchpoints with teams to have a little fun and foster connection among your team. 

See also: Building a Virtual Insurer Post-COVID  

As well as continuing video meetings with our clients, we hold internal companywide video calls on Tuesdays and Fridays to touch base with everyone and provide internal updates. On Fridays, we set aside about 15 to 20 minutes to have a little fun. Some of the activities we’ve built into our meetings that any team could easily incorporate include:

  • Costume contests, dress-up formal Fridays, holiday themes, ‘80s, etc.
  • Games such as trivia, truth or lie, sharing bucket lists, etc. 
  • Group stretching
  • Contests to see who can come up with the best Zoom background
  • Fundraising for the local hospital and food bank

Encourage your team to take breaks

Not having a designated office to separate work from one’s personal life and responsibilities is a significant adjustment. Encourage your team to take breaks and give them the flexibility they need to manage their schedule and make their days productive. Clearly communicate expectations to demonstrate trust in your team’s ability to be accountable for their work and deadlines without having to prove they’re online all the time. 

Take bonding activities online

Creative team-building games and events are key elements of fostering a startup culture. Fun activities help employees feel challenged and valued. While we may not be playing golf or having an office party for a while, let your team bond over a virtual activity on Zoom or Skype. 

There are a slew of options popping up, from virtual escape rooms to livestream classes. So far, we’ve held a few optional virtual events to bring our team closer together, including a fundraiser, an Easter contest, a recipe exchange (recipe book coming soon) and a jam session put on by our resident musicians. 

These activities can be short and simple–just something genuine that makes your team feel valued and gives them a little break. 

We may be physically isolated, but, thanks to technology, we need not be alone.

How to Foster a Startup Culture

Incorporating team building as part of your corporate culture may seem like an obvious step in strengthening your business overall, but it is often neglected. In fast-paced, high-energy environments such as the insurance and insurtech industries, investing in your employees through professional development and team-building activities can go a long way in promoting success.

In a competitive market, attracting the right people for your team can be a challenge, as can maintaining a motivated team. Startup tech businesses have become known for their ability to attract and maintain talented employees through a culture that prioritizes open communication, collaboration team building and individual growth. This “startup culture” focuses on nurturing a strong team through tools and activities that allow employees to bond, feel heard and continue learning within their role.

When it comes to attracting talent, “startup culture” is the expectation these days. Prospective employees, especially recent graduates and millennials, place a great deal of importance on a fun, inclusive and social work environment. They seek companies with a “startup culture” – modern vibrant offices, open-plan workspaces, flexible schedules and, most importantly, a collaborative environment.

Organizations of any size can borrow elements of “startup culture” to strengthen their own team. Here are some benefits of creative team building and a startup atmosphere:

Boosting Employee Morale

Creative team building breaks the monotony of spending the day at the office working on insurance claims or underwriting files. Regular team-building activities provide an opportunity to get out, have fun and relax, while encouraging collaboration and team bonding. The activities help eliminate employee burnout, improve productivity and increase retention.

See also: How to Embrace Insurtech Culture  

Team-building activities usually revolve around the completion of tasks and problem-solving. (Read on for some creative examples.) Completing these tasks boosts employees’ confidence and trust in their unique abilities. Confidence is a major source of motivation that is transferred to the workplace. Creative team building, therefore, contributes to a positive corporate culture that boosts employee morale.

Improving Productivity

Poor performance is often seen as being linked to employees’ incompetence or lack of care, but it could instead be a result of poor communication and lack of confidence. Creative team-building activities present the opportunity to overcome communication barriers and foster interaction and collaboration among staff. Improved communication enhances productivity as it encourages employees to seek second opinions and ask for help.

Employee Retention and Happiness

All employees want to feel valued and contribute to meaningful work. They also want enjoyable workspaces where they are heard, not spaces they can’t wait to get away from. One-third of our lives are spent at work. Many people are surrounded by their colleagues more often than their friends and family. A strong corporate culture and positive team dynamic is key to creating a favorable working environment employees want to stay in.

Creative team building can help in retaining top talent, reducing employee turnover and promoting employee happiness.

Creative Team-Building Ideas

There are a number of different team-building activities to choose from, depending on budget, team size and team dynamics. Here are a few activity ideas that my team loved:

  • Escape rooms: Employees in teams collaborate on cracking codes and solving mysteries. This is an excellent way to boost communication, encourage problem-solving and create camaraderie.
  • Seasonal office parties and personal celebrations: What better way to create a sense of family and bring employees and management together? Fun activities provide a lot of needed laughs. For example, we had a foosball tournament in the office. Bosses and workers alike can don goofy hats and have a good time.
  • Recreational sports and tournaments: Friendly competition and teamwork are a great way to create friendships and lasting bonds among teams. For instance, we had a zip line adventure at a nearby camp.

See also: New Challenges as Startups Consolidate  

At the end of the day, employees want to feel valued, challenged and respected. While catered meals and an open office are appealing, it’s open communication, growth potential and strong team dynamics that keep good employees. Fostering a team-oriented environment through regular team-building exercises and activities is one step any organization can take to improving company morale.

4 Ugly Conversations to Have by Year-End

Late in the year is a great time for recognition, celebration, white elephant gifts and other fun. Yes, yes, please do all that, but don’t stop there. The best holiday gift you can give your team is to “own the ugly.” To help your team have the tough conversations they’re longing to have; to stare squarely in the face of what’s not working and clear the decks for a remarkable 2019. Here are four conversations to help your team think more strategically.

Own the Ugly: 4 Conversations to Have With Your Team

The other day I was facilitating a two-day offsite strategic planning retreat for one of my startup clients. We’d designed a “speed-generation” problem-solving session, where groups rotated through stations to identify the ugly issues that needed to be addressed and worked on real solutions.

Within 60 seconds of the first rotation, one group listed every “efficiency” tool their company was using to make “work easier” and then created two columns on their easel sheet–a  “should it stay or should it go” vote.  Everyone who rotated through their station got a vote and indicated what workgroup they were in. By the end of the session, over half of the tools were “voted off the island.” The chairman raised his eyebrows but took the lead in initiating a curious conversation.

What executives found was that the tools they had selected one at a time for good reasons all made sense, but the requirements to keep everything up to date were driving people crazy.

See also: Top Challenge for HR Teams in 2018  

I’m convinced that 40-minute conversation (everyone gladly stayed beyond our promised closing time– even though the beer was being poured for their next agenda item…a holiday happy hour right outside the door) will save thousands of hours of frustration next year.

“Why didn’t you raise this before?” Well, “No one asked.”

Own the Ugly. Make it safe to talk about what’s not working. It’s getting talked about somewhere. Best to lift it up, stare at it, vent if needed and then figure out what must happen next.

4 Ways to Own the U.G.L.Y.

Here are four ugly conversations to have with your team. Ask, and then really listen.

U– What are we Underestimating?

Competitive pressures? New technology? Risk?  The destruction that new manager is doing to our culture? The opportunity that we “don’t have time for?

G– What’s Gotta Go?

What are we doing now that doesn’t make sense any more? What processes are more habit than value? What meetings are wasting our time? What’s gotta go for us to be remarkable?

L– Where are we Losing?

Where are we still under-performing despite our best efforts? Why? Who’s doing it better? How?

Y– Where are we missing the Yes?

What must we say “Yes” to in 2019? What new opportunities are yearning for our attention? Where must we invest more deeply?

See also: The Keys to Forming Effective Teams  

Teams admire managers who “own the ugly.” Winning Well managers have the confidence and humility to go there–to start the conversation and then listen deeply to the solutions.

This article first appeared at Let’s Grow Leaders.

Fire Up Your Firm Through Storytelling

“Symbols, dramas, stories, vision and love–these are the stuff of effective leadership, much more so than formal processes or structures. When you involve people, they feel ownership and perform up to 1,000% better.”

Tom Peters, A Passion for Excellence

The speed of change in today’s world is so disorienting that people are struggling to maintain their equilibrium and sense of wellbeing. In times of chaos, and especially when basic needs are threatened, strong leadership is more important than ever. Because people are looking to the workplace now for all their needs — professional development, social activities, onsite health care and child care services — strong leadership is especially critical. Business leaders need to reassure employees that they will continue to receive the support they need, even as the organization continually adapts to the chaotic marketplace so that customers’ rapidly changing expectations can be met.

Communication is the key to accomplishing this goal, and the most effective approach is to develop an authentic story — and tell it effectively. A company needs to develop a story so bright and so right that its target audiences (employees, customers, stockholders, affiliates, suppliers, etc.) are drawn to the flame. This story needs to be told — and retold with new twists — at every opportunity. By reminding everyone affiliated with your organization of where you’re going and how you plan to get there — and most importantly, how each person can contribute — you will strengthen the culture and boost morale.

Stories have been the glue connecting people with their cultures and with one another throughout human history. In ancient cultures, and even relatively modern tribes, the oral tradition was the vehicle for passing tribal practices and history down through the generations. The designated tribal storyteller was responsible for ensuring that each member of the group understood the importance of his role in continuing the traditions upon which the very survival of the tribe depended. The storyteller also served as an entertainer, retelling familiar tales around the campfire and engaging the imaginations of all those in the circle.

Why have stories always been so central to human interactions? Because stories reach people at a deeper level than a litany of facts and figures, and stay with people longer. As the high-tech elements continually become more dominant, people hunger for high-touch interactions.

Stories in Corporate Cultures

Corporate cultures are no different from ethnic cultures or any other special-interest group in their need for, and dependence on, stories about themselves, which help to create a culture as well as keep it alive. While in our modern culture we often think of a story or myth as a fabrication, storytelling is, in fact, the primary tool we all use to communicate. “How’s your day going?” “What’s the status of your project?” “What’s the latest news on the company’s new product?” Each of these commonly posed questions is answered in story form, whether or not the speaker is aware of being a “storyteller.” Awareness, however, is essential to the process of identifying an organization’s core story.

“All you can do is relate the successful experiences you’ve had within the company. What else have we got besides stories? That’s what really hits home with people; it’s what brings meaning to the work we do…. A picture is worth a thousand words, and a story told appropriately is priceless. Telling one of our stories speaks volumes about our philosophy and our values.”

Jim Sinegal, co-founder and CEO, Costco Wholesale

From Around the Corporate Campfire: How Great Leaders Use Stories to Inspire Success, C&C Publishing, 2004

To reach key audiences, an organization’s story must be authentic; it must be based on corporate values and guiding principles. An authentic story reveals the true personality of the company. It reflects, in essence, the heart and soul of the organization. As such, the core story must be told by people in leadership roles in a consistent manner and on a regular basis to ensure that they control it. When a leader articulates the core story effectively and consistently, people at all levels of the organization are captivated by the vision and begin “singing from the same page.” This level of company-wide consistency and commitment enables an organization to cut through the clutter of the marketplace to reach its targeted audiences and draw them into the inner circle.

Team-Building Through Personal Stories

The storytelling approach also has proven to be a highly effective teambuilding system, which is especially fitting for a retreat. Work teams often choose to apply the process in telling their own personal stories before beginning the joint work of developing the organization’s story. In doing so, they experience two key aspects of working together:

  • Self-discovery is exciting.
  • Self-disclosure leads to trust.

Their excitement is contagious! As participants discover shared personal values, they begin building ties with co-workers with whom they formerly believed they had nothing in common.

“If I wanted to predict behavior, I could still predict it better with the stories told around the company than I could with any mission statement or five-year plan.”

Robert Shapiro, former chairman and CEO
Monsanto Corp. and Nutrasweet Group

In one memorable case some years ago, the storytelling process overcame what had seemed insurmountable barriers between an entrenched manager in a small municipal outpost and the new, sophisticated urban manager who had been brought in to replace him. The atmosphere, understandably, was tense as the first day of a two-day planning retreat began. Following a relaxing and playful creative exercise and the sharing of the team’s personal stories, however, the tension eased considerably. The two men warmed up to one another and continued their discussion over lunch. The rest of the retreat was extremely productive, with the outcomes far surpassing the expectations of everyone involved.

This experience demonstrates that the sharing of common values and a common mission helps people to

  • work together,
  • support one another and
  • serve the customer more effectively.

By incorporating storytelling as a part of your business practices and regularly including relevant stories on the agenda for meetings and retreats, you will propel your organization toward its goals. Red-hot stories will keep everyone fired up and eager to pass them along to everyone they encounter.

“Storytelling is the single most powerful tool in a leader’s toolkit.”

Howard Gardner, author and professor, Harvard University Graduate School of Education

Key Takeaways

  1. During times of rapid change and economic uncertainty, such as is present in the insurance industry, strong leadership is more important than ever. Business leaders need to reassure employees that they will have the support they need to navigate the shifting landscape, and the most effective way to do that is to communicate often.
  2. The most effective communication tool is storytelling. By reminding employees of the organization’s values and demonstrating through story how those values are best enacted, leaders can help employees understand how they can succeed, even in trying times.
  3. Stories have always been the glue that helps people stick together, whether they are part of a tribe, a family, a professional association, a circle of friends—or a corporate “tribe.”
  4. A rapidly growing number of leading companies have discovered the power of story as a communication tool. When stories are told consistently and systematically, everyone in the organization works together better, stays focused on the mission and remains productive, ensuring continued success in the midst of change.

Breaking Through The Barrier Of Hardnosed Workers, Part 3

Turning The Corner
Admittedly, Part 1 and Part 2 of this series may be a bit discouraging to the solution-seeking reader. But as a wise professor states, “There is no implementation without, first, evaluation.”

So what has our evaluation revealed?

First, the dysfunctional nature of the average hardnosed worker employed in traditionally change-resistant work sectors is representative of his greater employment family, both labor and management. It is not the portrait of an isolated employee or two. The nature is systemic, as are its crippling effects.

Second, the extent of potential behavioral dysfunction in hardnosers is staggering. The research data points past the occasional whimsical, inane antics of the passive-aggressive worker who simply annoys others. It directs us to the darkly devious behavior of someone, or a bevy of someones, who is self-destructive, emotionally unengaged, and constantly looking to jump off the ship after lighting the fuse that may blow it up.

Third, management has largely failed in its attempts to wrestle control of the workforce away from hardnosers. Traditional quick-action employee management strategies lack the foundational understanding of both the cause of defiant behavior and the dysfunctional team dynamics that it creates.

Last, management has often chosen the wrong method to seize control of hardnosers. The preferred tactic has been to tighten control through the repeated issuance of compliance standards. Such “what to do” and “how to do it” standards stiffen the hardnosed worker’s resolve to reject management’s ploys.

Engineering consultant Kevin Sorbello fittingly compares the change-resistant workforce to a dysfunctional family in which “those making the rules unconsciously see themselves as adults in charge of children.” Conversely, he notes that workers of lower rank see themselves as being “treated like children by unfit elitists. The fact that this scenario is so ubiquitous,” he says, “is disheartening.”

In light of this stark portrayal, what can be done to heal a defiant and dysfunctional employment family?

Capitalize On Dysfunction
One word points us down the right path. It keeps cropping up [five times above]. The word is dysfunctional. There’s a reason it is our key word.

Dysfunction brings with it opportunity. The same weaknesses that define dysfunctional workers are the ones that open the door for us to help them personally and to improve the cooperative nature of the entire workforce.

But this can’t happen until we acknowledge several hard-to-believe truths about the nature of hardnosed workers. These are beliefs gleaned by the author after four decades of listening to, observing, profiling, and helping dysfunctional people.

1. Hardnosers really want to improve.
They are really not into self-flagellation, though they expect it to happen (defeatism) — they’d rather have the opposite: success.

2. Hardnosers are stuck and need a push.
They really don’t know how to solve their own problems, nor why they are stuck in a defeatist rut.

3. Hardnosers want simple honesty.
They will not trust you until you first demonstrate to them your complete honesty.

4. Hardnosers desire compassion, not charity.
They innately sense the difference — one is considered condescending and offensive to them; the other is acceptable.

5. Hardnosers respond best to old-fashioned “tough love.”
They desire hard boundaries, particularly those that help them achieve hard-to-reach goals.

6. Hardnosers want you to earnestly listen to them.
They want to tell you vital information about themselves — their real and felt needs — that enables you to help them mature.

It is difficult for some skeptics to embrace these beliefs. It is easier to adopt the attitude of one Cleveland-area business owner who believes that “most employees with bad attitudes come that way and it is not up to you to be a social worker.” To him, any alternative to improving the quality of workers other than perfecting the hiring and firing process is “silly,” even if personnel turnover costs are astronomical.

Safety officer Ken Malcolm at Safety & More P/L begs to differ. He says, “Hardnosed negatives can become hardnosed positives.” The key, he says, is trust.

Malcolm states that trust does not exist because “the past experiences [of workers] have not been good.” He suggests that workers have rarely been exposed to managers “who put value on worker input.” Perhaps they once worked for a grumpy guy in Cleveland. More likely, they’ve been jaded by repeated exposure to the Cycle of Rejection described in Part 2 of this series.

Agree with it or not, the path to profitability involves helping hardnosers cure their dysfunctional behavior, a task that starts with listening to what they say about themselves and about control-minded authorities.

Listening For Needs
Within the well-worn contentious discourse proffered by hardnosers is an easily recognizable admission of their foibles.

  • I have trouble accepting authority of any kind.
  • I am emotionally cold and uncaring.
  • I often say the wrong thing in the wrong way.
  • I don’t trust anyone enough to give them my loyalty (everyone is out to get me).
  • I am not a good team player.

You can also hear their pleas for help.

  • Help us accept authority, not persistently fight back.
  • Help us live emotionally healthy lives, not crawl into an emotional shell.
  • Help us develop better interpersonal skills, not alienate others.
  • Help us bond with each other and the company, not be disloyal.
  • Help us be better team players, not self-interested individuals.

These needs should sound familiar — they directly correspond to the “snapshot” of a hardnosed worker described in Part 1 of this series.

A hardnosed worker is a self-destructive, emotionally self-centered, uncontrollable person who would rather cut-and-run than commit.

From this snapshot, the human needs that it reveals, and the failure of traditional means to change hardnosed behavior, you know that there is only one action plan — one line of attack — that will result in positively changing a resistant workforce into a cooperative one. But, like the hardnosed Cleveland businessman, you might have trouble admitting it.

You have to help them develop the relational skills that they lack.

But don’t let this series tell you the obvious, though it bears repeating. Let the desperate general manager from Part 1 of this series say it. He’s the one who in 1992 initially linked the characteristics of a juvenile delinquent to the antics of his hardnosed employees. The assistance he sought from a troubled youth expert is as difficult as it is simple.

“I simply want you to help my people treat each other as people,” he asked.

He knew the problem pointed to a lack of interpersonal skills. So do you. And so do the perpetrators, who secretly want your help.

But how do you provide assistance without risking further rejection?

Using Safety To Change People
Job safety is the only joint partnership with management to which the hardnoser has ceded a modicum of control and cooperation. It is the only “face saving” venue in which he consents to [non-craft skill] personal development. To him, change for safety’s sake is grudgingly agreeable.

With safety training comes the opportunity to change the hardnoser, if the correct approach is utilized. Felt needs should be front-and-center — the odor of command, control, and compliance should be reduced.

John Bennett, VP of M.C. Dean, urges us to remember that “it is not about the system, regulations, nor policy or procedure. It is all about the people.”

Ill-conceived training strategies in which personal development is added-on to standard compliance training rarely work. Hardnosers are stubborn, not stupid. They can sense a convenient manipulative end run by management. Ever hear them call leadership training “charm school?”

To achieve human change requires a more carefully crafted safety training strategy than most organizations currently employ. Such a strategy demands a more need-sensitive safety management system.

What is recommended here extends beyond simple supplements to standardized compliance training programs. What is needed is a radical redesign of safety thinking in dealing with a sub-culture of resistance.

Above all, one hard-learned lesson about securing cooperation from defiant people must be remembered. You must meet their felt needs before they will fully give you what you want — compliance and control. If safety doesn’t do this, you remain stuck in the sink hole of opposition, forever containing resistance rather than correcting it.

Life Skills Are Felt Needs
A felt need is simply anything people consciously lack and desire. As noted, the hardnoser consciously but quietly desires self-improvement, particularly in life skills.

One example is the need of supervisors to learn practical leadership skills. As new supervisors quickly rise from the lower ranks of organizations, many supervisors suffer from the lack of leadership development inherent in on-the-job training.

Joe Johnson says that new supervisors are likely to be “given a ‘white hat,’ put in charge, and sent out in the organization with instructions to make things happen safely.” But of the leadership creation process, Johnson asks, “What ‘tools’ have these individuals been provided to insure he or she will be a good safety manager?”

In addition to leadership skills, other life skill needs that are likely felt by hardnosers of all ranks include:

  • Interpersonal communication skills (all aspects)
    • Accurate listening skills
    • Accurate shaping of the message to the listener
    • Accurate delivery of the message for acceptance
    • Accurate use of reflective listening, clarification
  • Relationship building
  • Behavioral awareness and pattern recognition
  • Anger management/tolerance/empathy
  • Team building
  • Critical thinking and decision-making
  • Coaching and mentoring

Under the confines of employee development and safety training, we have regrettably postponed meeting these needs until it is too late, after the worker feels under-appreciated. Properly, these are the needs you should start meeting at the beginning of new hire orientation.

What Do I Do?
The practical answer to the initial question — What should I do to change hardnosed workers? — is as basic as it sounds complex.

To change a hardnosed work force, you should implement a hybrid training program that simultaneously combines traditional safety-related training subjects with topics that develop the character of the hardnoser in their expressed area of needs.

The key is seamless simultaneous integration. Safety and human development should be taught at the same time, not as separate courses.

To avoid the Cycle of Rejection discussed in Part 2, the hardnoser must not feel that personal manipulation is the purpose of the training, nor should it be. Yet he should also walk away with a sense of obligation to practice (note: different than “comply with”) what is taught.

To make a life-changing combination of safety and personal development training workable requires two organizational commitments.

1. The organization must improve its quality of training.
A higher level of training is required, as is a better quality instructor skilled in safety, communications and human development. Revised curricula must be employed. Cattle-call training must be replaced with a caring personal attitude.

2. The organization must meld its safety and operation cultures.
A unified work culture is required, one which leaves hardnosers no wiggle room for discarding their training lessons under the excuse of “safety behavior” versus “operational behavior.” Operations cannot be allowed to deprive the hardnoser of training’s human development gains.

John Bennett underscores the mistake of trying to create a safety culture within an existing company culture in order to change people. He states that the tactic “is incongruent with the overall mission of the company.” Bennett suggests that “building upon the existing culture and simply inserting the safety aspect” is a more sensible way to build a unified work force. “Involving people in a sincere way,” he says, “will produce better results than were heretofore imaginable.” The hardnoser agrees wholeheartedly.

The Essentials
For the best results, a hybrid safety training program should immediately focus on the greatest needs of the hardnoser: interpersonal communication skills, emotional openness and honesty, and relational teamwork. All these needs share a common denominator. They point to the hardnoser’s fundamental lack of behavioral understanding.

Rarely are hardnosers properly educated about behavior — they do not bring such knowledge with them to the job. Most struggle with discerning why people do what they do — many ascribe the wrong motive to other’s behavior. It’s easy for hardnosers to fall into the Cycle of Rejection.

As explained in Part 2, answering the why question is vital to securing the hardnoser’s cooperation. If you desire to tear down the walls of resistance in your work force, here’s what you need to know.

  • If you help the hardnoser understand his unique behavior temperament and its affects on him — why he is prone to repeat certain behavior patterns — he will call you a friend.
  • If you show him why others act as they do because of their unique behavior temperaments, he will call you a good friend.
  • If you teach him how to build productive relationships with others despite their differences in temperament, he will call you his best buddy.
  • If you do none of the above yet try to change him, he will think you are simply attempting to control him. We’ve seen where that leads.

It is essential to integrate a simple behavior paradigm into every aspect of safety training. Uncomplicated behavior assessment profiles like the DISC or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® can serve this purpose. These are accurate, easily integrated “tools” that produce the type of behavioral understanding needed by hardnosers and non-hardnosers alike.

But this is no shill for the traditional haphazard use of behavior profile tools to soothe the ruffles of an agitated work force or as a guest speaker’s play toy. This is a call to deeply interweave two narratives — safety management and human development — on a consistent basis to meet the targeted needs of employees.

This author will attest to the instant magic brought by behavioral self-discovery through platforms like the DISC or MBTI. One unforgettable incident occurred when the cigar-chomping director of one company’s division first saw the results of his DISC self-analysis. The director’s cigar dropped from his mouth as he stood up, staggered about the training room with his analysis, and shouted, “This is me! This is me! This is freakin’ me.” Presto.

But that momentary magic is useless unless it is converted into tangible results while sustained within a framework of a safety training program that is designed to simultaneously control and change lives.

To do this requires a bold commitment from executive managers that are tired of butting their heads against behavioral barriers. Let the general manager mentioned in Part 1 remind us again that the alternative, letting hardnosers drag the company down, is “not an option.”

What this commitment looks like in practicality, and the results that it can accomplish, will be the subject of Part 4 of this series.

Bibliography

“Focus On Teamwork, Attitude Improves Quality And Safety.” The Waterways Journal. April 25, 1994: 41-44

Newton, Ron. No Jerks On The Job. Irving, TX. PenlandScott Publishers, 2010.

Riddle, Glenden P. An Evaluation Of The Effectiveness Of Stress Camping Through The Use Of The Taylor-Johnson Temperament Analysis Exam. Research Project. Dallas Theological Seminary, December 1978.

Taylor, Robert. Taylor-Johnson Temperament Analysis Manual. Thousand Oaks: Psychological Publications, Inc., 1992.