There are plenty out there who don’t

Full Disclosure: this isn’t my dog.

OK, so I’ve started this post four separate times now. One was philosophical, one was analytical, one was statistical, one just sucked. So rather than try to solve the world’s grand problems and offer profound insight I’m going to address this topic with two perspectives: What I need/What my dog needs. Simple enough even I can tackle it.

It’s a bit of a broad topic, but one that has huge implications. So, do your employees have what they need? You can take that question in a thousand different directions… But only if you ask it.

In my observation, many leaders are terrible at asking questions about needs. Maybe they’re scared of the answers, or maybe it’s just a hard thing to address. Like I said, a thousand directions. So let’s look at two.

What do I need?

Lavish praise and adoration… and millions of dollars (you can Venmo that part to me). I joke (only a little), of course, but positive affirmation is always nice. What I actually need, though, is a little deeper. I need fulfillment. Or, in other words I need to feel as though my work has meaning. Since I work in the safety profession, that means I need to know that my work has actually contributed to someone’s safety (if even one). That’s why I have such an aversion to pointless activities done in the name of safety.

Not everyone is motivated like I am though. Some need to make a good living so they can afford nice things for their family. Some may need to work hard with their hands (body) to get that same sense of accomplishment. A little perspective can help, but the best thing you can do as a leader is ask (then actually listen). And that leads me to my dog.

What does my dog need?

Aside from the obvious choices (food/water), my particular dog NEEDS to have her ball thrown. I’ll fully admit that I’m not a huge dog person, but Snickers has grown on me over the years in spite of her needs. To me that’s a funny thought, because growing up I always thought the reason I wasn’t into dogs is that I never had one that liked to play fetch. Now that I have one, I can empirically state that was definitely NOT the reason.

When it comes to fetching, Snickers is the most persistent creature I’ve ever met. If the ball isn’t in her mouth, it’s sitting at someone’s feet as she nudges it with her nose. She’ll then look up at you as if to say, “there’s my ball, I brought it to you, why aren’t you throwing it, it’s right there, pick it up, it’s not hard, do it, it’s a ball, see, it’s the round orange thing with slobber on it, come on…” You get my point.

That dog WILL NOT leave until the ball is thrown. Even if it means she goes and finds someone else to throw it. People do the same thing (and no I’m not comparing us all to dogs… only some). For me, the lesson to learn is that people won’t stick around without getting what they need. That’s as true at home as it is at work.

So, I’ll ask again, do your people have what they need?

Hi. I’m Jason. I’m the author of the book A Practical Guide to the Safety Profession: The Relentless Pursuit from CRC Press. I’m excited to get to share it with you all and hope it will be as valuable a tool to you as it has been to me. There is no other safety book out there like it. That’s not me being arrogant and assuming you’ll love it. You might not. But at least we’ll be able to have a needed conversation about the change needed in the safety profession. It is available now! Email me at Jason@relentlesssafey.com

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