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3 Signs That Managers, Not Employees, Are the Problem

Posted by EHS Insight Resources on May 14, 2021 at 12:46 PM

When employees underperform, especially on safety, it’s easy to blame them for the problem. After all, they’re responsible for their performance, right?

The truth is, performance management – the process of creating a work environment – is more complex than that. And while it may not be fun to admit it, there are times when poor employee safety performance has more to do with management than employees.

It’s not pleasant for managers to own it, but this is more than just a safety performance issue. If you don’t address the issue, it could cost you valuable talent. That said, you have to know when to look past employee performance alone. Here are a few signs that managers, not employees, are the problem with your workplace safety management.

Employees Leave

It’s easy to say employees quitting isn’t in your control. It’s their decision, after all. But the reality is that most of the reasons employees quit are entirely within management’s control. In fact, some of the top reasons are directly related to management, including the employee’s relationship with their boss, how their talents are used at work, corporate culture, and management recognition of employee performance.

Don’t believe it? Just ask employees, 50% of whom say they would quit a job to get away from their boss.

There are a number of reasons why management might unwittingly chase off great talent. Overwork is a major culprit, as are opportunities to learn and grow. In a safety context, employees may leave because they feel that management isn’t listening and doesn’t care.

Morale Drops

This is related to the second major sign of toxic workplace safety management: poor morale.

Employees want to work for bosses they trust and respect. That’s true of any workplace. Because of this, an employee’s relationship with their boss directly translates to workplace morale. So do your employees’ perceptions of you. In other words, if you say you’re all about safety but ignore safety rules while enforcing them on employees, employees will notice and take the important lesson to heart.

So while you might say you have a zero harm culture, if your actions don’t back up your words, your employees will stop listening.

Metric Micromanagement

Metric micromanagement is the unhappy meeting place of metric gluttony and micromanagement, and it’s a clarion call that your workplace safety management is off track.

Ask yourself: are your safety meetings dominated by PowerPoints with graphs and statistics? Do you drill safety numbers as if preparing students for a spelling bee and still see the same safety mistakes? Do you respond by not giving your employees the space to sneeze, because you don’t trust them to make the right decision?

Congratulations, you’re in a vicious cycle of metric micromanagement, and it filters directly into the first two warning signs.

The Tools for Stronger Workplace Safety Management

Management is a difficult undertaking as it is. Safety management is even harder, since you’re adding responsibilities on top of the day-to-day work tasks. But without effective workplace safety management, your company can’t thrive.

Looking for more great ideas to manage workplace safety more effectively? Overhauling an ineffective safety management system? Make sure to check out our blog for more great EHS management tips, like these underappreciated qualities of a standout safety supervisor.

Topics: Workplace Health and Safety, Safety Management, Safety Culture, Human Resources

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