The most critical time in an employee’s life is when they come to you for help. Josh Mantz in an interview (10 minutes past dead) with Joe Desena talks about what happens to people when they seek help. “When someone asks for help it is the most high risk time for that individual. They are disclosing their darkest secrets, weaknesses and their vulnerabilities.” What happens next is up to you.
So what type of risk manager are you? This is a question that deserves serious thought. Whether you are managing a workers compensation program, safety program or risk management program, you are the single most important person which will determine the outcome for the employee and your programs.
Many risk managers let their egos get in the way when dealing with injured employees, safety violations or losses. What you must understand is that at the moment, an employee has to admit that they potentially didn’t do something correctly, that they weren’t the tough man they thought they were, or they let the team down. They are vulnerable and potentially injured. When you respond out of frustration and anger, you do more damage than you imagined. It is at this point that you deepen the wounds, cut relationships and create enemies.
Understand that you must treat that initial contact moment with your kindest, most gentle self is imperative to ensuring the success of your programs and getting the employee back to a healthy state. So, take a step back and remember the communication loop:
- Sender – makes request
- Receiver – listens
- Receiver – repeats
- Receiver – understands without agreeing or disagreeing
Doing this will give you the opportunity to let the employee open up and be vulnerable. With that you will be able to solve real problems, make real improvements in your programs and help the employee get back to work. Heck, you may even find you have some common interests!