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Written by
on 24 August 2017


Training plays an extremely important role in helping raise health and safety standards.

But simply presenting information to employees may not be enough to affect the change you want. Instead, you need to carefully consider how information is communicated – and how to positively influence your employees.

Your communication preferences matter

One of the keys to effective workplace communication is understanding what motivates your employees. What makes them tick? What do they like and dislike? What has worked in the past?

Once you know how to relate to individuals, it becomes much easier to present information in a way that appeals to them. Some will be happy to read the documentation, others will take safety videos on board. And some will need on-the-job guidance.

Ultimately it is your ability to tailor the way in which information is shared that will determine whether training is effective or not. It’s not about you – your colleagues’ preferences are the key factor in an effective conversation.

Touch of persuasion

The communication preferences of your colleagues are not just important for training. Every discussion you have at work needs to take these factors into account to help you build rapport.

By building relationships you will find it much easier to persuade colleagues to change the way they work. Gentle persuasion is much more effective that issuing ultimatums.

Express credibility

“Practice what you preach” is more than an old saying – it’s something you should be striving to achieve at work. Your employees watch you closely, checking to see if you hold yourself to the same standards you expect of them.

If you consistently adhere to safe working practices, your employees will notice. Not only will this raise your credibility, but also increase your powers of persuasion – workers are much more likely to adopt desired behaviours.

Earn respect

Managers face an additional challenge – do they want to be popular or to earn the respect of their colleagues? Popularity is relatively easy to achieve, but it could also be an Achilles Heel. You might tell the funniest jokes, but do people listen to the important safety information you share with them?

Respect is the twin of credibility. If people find you credible, they are much more likely to respect you. At which point they are easier to influence.

Line managers must invest time and effort into making themselves credible, and therefore respectable. And if the choice is between popularity and respectability always go for the latter.

Listen to others

Effective communication is a two-way process – even when you are trying to share information. You must listen to your colleagues before, during and after any discussion.

As well as better understanding the people you work with, they may provide additional insights that affect your plans. Always be open to suggestions – you don’t have all the answers, so your colleagues can play their part in improving site safety too.

Time and patience

Sharing information effectively and influencing people is not something that “just happens”. You will need to invest time and effort cultivating trust and respect with colleagues. The investment will pay off however as your teams begin to work together more efficiently (and accident rates decline).

Understanding Workplace psychology and how people behave in the workplace can help to improve standards of health and safety for your business. Let us know your thoughts.

Now it’s your turn

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

A chartered (fellow) safety and risk management practitioner with 20+ years of experience. David provides a healthy dose of how-to articles, advice and guidance to make compliance easier for construction professionals, Architects and the built environment. Get social with David on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

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