Turbo Leadership Systems

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August 12, 2008 Issue 185 To our clients and friends
I Can See Clearly Now

Denis, paper machine super-intendent for a paper mill in northern Ontario, Canada, told Session 6B of the Leadership Development Lab:

"On January 17th, I was passing by Paper Machine #4 dryer section front side at the beginning of a planned maintenance shutdown when I spotted Dave, one of our safety reps and chairman of the safety committee for many years. To my surprise, he wasn't wearing his safety glasses. He was busy blowing broke from the dryer section before turning the section over to the maintenance crew.

I kindly asked him to step into the wet booth so we could talk in private. I told Dave that I was extremely concerned for his eyes when he wasn't wearing his eye protection glasses. Going into the conversation, I knew that Dave and the superintendent of the Safety Department were looking into a better level of safety glasses that was doublevision- type and disposable. Dave somewhat predictably expressed his concern about not seeing well with our current conventional-type safety glasses. Because these were the only kind of safety glasses available at the time, I suggested that he sit down for a couple of minutes while we were talking, take a minute to dry his forehead, and clean off his safety glasses that were hanging around his neck.

As Dave cleaned his safety glasses, I reminded him that he is a leader in his department, and that all of the operators look to him for leadership in every area, including safety. He agreed with me, said that I was right in my approach, and then agreed to wear his glasses until the better ones arrived even though the current model isn't quite right.

A week later, as I was walking by Dave's area again on my way to attend a meeting, he approached me wearing his new prototype safety glasses, and said, 'See! I'm wearing my glasses now, and they feel right.' I thanked him for doing so, and for wearing all of his personal protection equipment. I was happy for him and me.

The lesson I learned from this experience is that by following Turbo's respectful approach to personal interaction, I can talk to an employee about a violation of a safety hazard in a way that leads to acceptance and changes from their former behavior.

The action I call you to take is when you see someone who is violating a safety standard, take the time to ask what happened, and explain the standard and your concern for their safety. Ask them to conform to the high standards that help to ensure company-wide success. The benefit you will gain is the respect of your crew and a safer, happier workplace."