Let me start out by saying, what gets pointed out gets repeated. Let me say it again…what gets pointed out gets repeated!
What do I mean by that? When you see something, whether it’s a behavior you like or one you don’t like, once you call attention to it, there is a higher probability you will see it again. It’s not a conscious act. In fact, it takes place deep within our subconscious. We’re designed with a need to be visible. So, we do things that make us visible.
Let me give you an example. I worked with a manufacturing client and when it gets to be triple digits with humidity, the temperature soars inside the plant. It would be miserable in shorts and a tank top, but these folks were required to wear long pants, long sleeved shirts, and PPE like hard hats, safety glasses, gloves and steel-toed shoes. It’s miserable! And, because they were processing food, they were generating even more heat. It’s was more important than ever that the leaders employed this habit…they need to look for opportunities to see that people were wearing their PPE and call attention to it. What gets pointed out gets repeated. It takes a second to say ‘good job keeping your PPE on’ when everything in that person’s head is saying take it off and you’ll be more comfortable. By walking around and making a point to acknowledge people who are doing it right, they were raising the probability that those same people would continue to do the right behavior even when they weren’t around. Remember, it is not a conscious act.
Now let’s be real. Sometimes you have to address the behavior that you don’t want to see again. Just be sure to do it in a way where you can END by restating the behavior you do want to see. In the case of the worker who takes off his PPE because it’s hot, you don’t want to just walk by because if you do, you’ll actually condone the behavior. But when you do address it, make sure you end the conversation on a positive note. For instance, John, you need to wear your gloves at all times. Look, I know it’s hot and the gloves just make it that much hotter. But your safety is important. And, others look to you for guidance. You’re a positive influence out in the plant. Thanks for setting the example for us all.
Remember, what gets pointed out gets repeated. Make sure you are pointing out the right stuff.