This was originally published on August 9th.2013 as A Complete Guide To Warehouse Safety-Volume VI-Coaching, the glue that binds it all. In light of the Golden State Warriors winning the NBA Championship with basically the same personnel on the floor they had when they were eliminated in the first round last year with the only significant change in the coach and his staff. You know the results and I can’t say it enough, you can have the greatest player in the world on your team, but without coaching and leadership you won’t achieve the goal.
I hope this journey down the Green Brick Road of Safety has been as educational for you as it’s been a pleasant surprise for me by the great responses from you, the readers to this series. Thank you all. Along this odyssey we have been introduced to many different ways of protecting employees at the workplace, beginning with the initial step, Hazard Analysis which demonstrated how to identify potential dangers to employees. Soon after that we had PPE exhibiting the latest styles in protective wear and then Housekeeping showed the positive results of keeping a neat and organized facility. Soon after we ran into Emergency Ready which keeps one prepared for the worst and had Good Tailgates show how to teach and inform. So as you can see they are all equally important for a safe working warehouse, and then you wonder, with all these components in place is there still any more that can be done to keep all employees safe? YES. It’s called Coaching (I use the word coaching but you can use leadership as well) and it is the glue that binds all of these things together.
Coaching goes well beyond training. When training you are teaching the employee a specific skill set, or a routine or procedure like how to drive a forklift, how to properly lift a box, or how to handle a liquid spill. However with coaching you’re building people into great employees by improving their self esteem, confidence and knowledge. Coaching corrects behavior or performance issues without threat of punishment which should only be used as a last resort. A coach sets the standard that everyone in the warehouse/facility will be following for safety, performance, and professionalism along with the level of tolerance for infractions. A coach does not allow employees to engage in horseplay of any kind while working but gives time to talk and blow off steam and reward their efforts. A coach is an advocate for their employees and shows them, “Yes, they can do it” when helping them learn a new skill and improving their ability to earn more income and a coach makes sure they themselves always set an example for all.
As in any sport and at work a coach makes sure you’re prepared for the upcoming match and ready to execute the game plan. A coach begins each work day with a morning huddle to keep you informed, focused and motivated to elevate your level of performance. A good coach knows that they need to counsel employees in private, praise them in public, brag about them to the upper brass and to engage staff and listen to their feedback for growth and continuous improvement. Above all a great coach knows to always says thank you for a job well done.
A coach creates an atmosphere conducive for learning and where employees can feel free to ask questions and freely engage in the exchange of ideas without fear of ridicule. A coach delivers timely tailgate/toolbox meetings, interesting monthly safety meetings that involves the staff in presentations. The coach should almost always direct on the playing field itself and not issue commands entrenched from behind their desk. A coach knows they need to be on the floor so they can encourage, critique, answer questions as well as observe and document the good along with the bad and offer obtainable goals and objectives to grow and retain employees. So when the Scarecrow doesn’t feel it necessary to LOTO, or the Tin Man forgets to wear his PPE or the Lion frets about training on a new piece of equipment and the accident prone Wicked Witch creates havoc on the shop floor, you can always spot the coach, they’re the one keeping cool, assessing the situation, reassuring everyone and keeps things going without so much as skipping a beat. So you see the COACH is really the glue.
Folks, we’ve finally come to the end of the GREEN BRICK ROAD OF SAFETY and arrived at our destination, the safe warehouse. It’s not hard to do if you follow all the segments shown through out the series and you make the necessary time available to do it properly. I promise you, it will be time well spent and worth every penny. You are not alone in making warehouse safety a priority. They are many advocates out there and the information is free on the internet. Become a safety advocate yourself, get involved on your company safety committee and if there isn’t one, start it! Keep your fellow employees safe. If you do need any help or have questions on safety, need a review or hazard analysis WarehouseFlow Consulting is there for you. Until we meet again on our next journey.