One of Weigand-Omega’s service values is Communicate. In summary, it states the only way to clear understanding is keeping others adequately informed and that bad assumptions are made in the absence of good communication. While I understand that this value relates to how we want act as a company when dealing with our clients and customers, I thought it might be good to tie that particular value back to safety as well. While I do focus a bit more on project scope in the following paragraphs, the implications it has for safety in our workplaces are something I am sure you’ll be able to relate to.
I have personally given instructions on a particular project only to have the work itself end up with a less than satisfactory outcome. When this happens I often hear someone say they weren’t sure about some of the steps they were to take. Of course I always initially feel like I was as clear as a clean pane of glass. But to be fair and honest, when I dissect the situation for myself, I sometimes find a thing or two I could have done or described differently. But even with all that, I have to wonder why the individual receiving the info didn’t just say they didn’t understand from the outset, or at the very least work what they knew and then ask questions when they began to wonder.
While I am no psychologist, one of the things I think I can safely say is that we all desire to understand, as well as be understood. If we are the ‘teacher’, we want our ‘students’ to internalize the information being delivered and be able to apply it as needed. We just have to be sure that the delivery of that information is tailored to the individual’s that are receiving it. As the ones getting the information, we need to fully understand what we hear and are supposed to be doing. If we don’t, then we need to ask specific questions to aid us in this complete understanding. I know that this can be difficult at times to achieve because I believe we also want to be seen as competent. While asking questions can seem counter-intuitive to that goal, in reality it is the only way to effect true communication.
The bottom line is that without clear communication, even being able to work safely can become an impossible task. As the instructor, should you find yourself staring into the glazed eyes of a fellow human being while you are providing necessary information to get the job done safely, find a way to reset. Let them ask a question or two and see if a lack of understanding actually exists. If you’re the instructed, pay close attention, and try to hold your questions to the end. Just make absolutely sure you fully understand the information and processes needed. Whether you are the instructor or instructed, if you make a mistake here, it could end up costing you more than just a “less than satisfactory outcome.”
Have great week and stay safe.