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31st July 2014

“I am Tired of Telling Them”

fire door keep shut signHow often have I heard this – most recently in connection with fire doors left wedged open? Telling is often not enough, especially if bad habits are well established. So this is what you do:

  1. Act on it promptly, preferably with the evidence – take the employee to the fire door and point it out, for example.
  2. Make it clear precisely what is wrong – for example, place the emphasis on the door being wedged not on them for wedging it.
  3. Make explicit your dissatisfaction – you might say that you have pointed this out before and you are upset that you are needing to do so again. Take care not to “lay it on with a trowel”. And don’t be tempted to say “Mrs Owner gets upset about this”, or “We have to meet fire regulations”. These suggest you are disowning your own responsibility in the matter.
  4. Don’t accept excuses such as “Jean does this all the time”. You might say “Right now I am talking about what you have done”, (but you will need to tackle Jean too, at an appropriate time).
  5. Pause. What you have said will have been perfectly legitimate. Give the employee chance to appreciate that by you being silent for a few seconds.
  6. You will also appreciate that this message may be uncomfortable for the employee. Don’t feel too guilty about that, but use expression to show it is the behaviour not the person that is on the rack here. Body language can confirm that you are empathetic towards them.
  7. Say something positive. You might say: “I am sure you understand. I do feel that you are a very good carer, which is why we employed you”.
  8. Move on. Have something to move on to; ideally some simple task that you can complete together.

It is a good idea to prepare what you have to say first. And keep it short – 60 seconds should be more than enough.

Do this with every employee (including Jean) who wedges fire doors. The message will go out even to those who don’t.

If this doesn’t work then you will need to proceed to formal procedures but, if the reminders are done well, that will rarely be necessary.

Malcolm Martin of Employer Solutions – QCS Human Resource Expert.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

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