Everyone is learning throughout their day whether it is intentional or not. On topics that we are well acquainted with, we actually run the risk of missing out on additional information of that same topic. There are nuances, or undertones that all topics encompass. As a result of how well we think we know a topic, the risk of repeatedly missing the extraordinary additional perceptions and depth that the topic offers increases.
What might be a good example to describe this phenomenon?
As a physical therapist, we will see/treat many individuals with the same diagnosis, the same complaint, using the same verbal description. Of course, therapists have treated this type of complaint for possibly years. Yet, are we missing something? Have we been able to reduce the number of visits with longer-lasting outcomes? If not, then chances are, we are missing the nuances of what is taking place inside the client. One size fits one is my motto. Therefore, it behooves us to delve deep into how tissues realty moves inside.
We should not assume, even if we are considered “experts” in a field, that we should not continue to review into the depths of our field
As environmental health and safety professionals, there are so many compliances, rules, processes, and procedures, that we must remember on a daily basis. If an employee or two has expressed complaints regarding a specific task of a job, again, what are the nuances of that job that can be altered to bring about better productivity and less fatigue or soreness in the individuals.
Never think you know your subject matter enough. Continue to look at the same topic through different eyes, different perceptions, different discriminatory inspection. You will certainly come away with a more complex and intricate understanding and improved methods of solving daily challenges and tasks.
ACE your communication! How to Recognize, REFINE, Resolve Colleague and Team Expectations and Communication Challenges
Lori: “Brad, can you email me that information by this Friday, so the project can be completed?”
Brad: “I am so busy and will not be at work tomorrow. I’ll see what I can do.”
This is a common communication exchange in everyone’s life. Should Lori expect the information from Brad she asked for by a specific date? Yes? No? Whenever we communicate answers that are ambiguous, such as, “I’ll see what I can do”, “I am not sure…”, “I think I might”, “Let me get back to you”, we are not communicating very well. The above short examples are open ended without any definitive answer in response to the person asking the question that requires a definitive answer.
These forms of communication often lead to frustrations between co-workers, doubts of co-workers, and the typical office gossip between co-workers. All leads to further break down of communication and work productivity.
How can someone’s ambiguous response be properly delt with that shows respect, confidence, and demonstrate the satisfied interdependence for that co-worker; or team? Whether you are working in a team situation, work closely with specific colleagues, or need to collaborate with someone you do not know yet, the principle of agreed communication expectations is foundational.
Agreed Communication Expectations = ACE
The concept on agreeing on expectations in communicating is not new, not a new religion, not groundbreaking for the 6 o’clock news. Yet, this topic continues to be written about in books that are on best sellers’ listings. There still is Dale Carnegie’s best-selling book, “How To Win Friends and Influence People”, published in 1936 with over 30 million copies sold worldwide. This book is one of the best-selling books of all time. According to Wikipedia, it was number 19 in 2011, on Time Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential books. And there are Dale Carnegie Communication classes now offered. Another best-selling effective communication book, “Crucial Conversations” by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler, another New York Times best seller with over 3 million copies sold. With hordes of e-books, Kindles, Audible and the good old fashion book, combed with living in a society where technology is at our fingertips on our phones, laptops, pads, and desktops, why is communicating with each difficult? The title of the blog, Yes = Yes, No = No is the giveaway to agreed communication expectations, or ACE.
How ACE Works
The timetable to start effectual communication is anytime: anyone can require this principle, reinforce this principle, retrace this principle in a chronology of communication with another. Setting and agreeing on communication standards that includes updates, reminders, and to be able to speak up to another when the communication is not clear without being rejected, (as we are all subject to not stating clear thoughts!), that builds the success of communication, which, builds the productivity, respect, and admiration for one another. Below are 2 examples of how two or more people can agree on terms of communicating without the feeling of misunderstanding or that feeling of ambiguity of whether the expectation will be met or not.
Agree that responses to requests need to be a “Yes” or “No” answer
Of course there are instances when a simple “Yes” or “No” needs to be accompanied by negotiating a different timeline, or amount of information that was requested, or some other difference where the two, or group, can agree and then rely on. Ultimately you need to answer a “yes” with the appropriate delivery times, or “no, but I can next week, on such n such a day”.
You Cannot be “Just meat and potatoes” for responding to others
If you are the individual supplying the request, and you think you may need more time or cannot supply the entire bulk of information, then state just that and state the reasons why. This is where you cannot be that “Just meat and potatoes” person, meaning that short answers or quips is what you are about and that is how you communicate. When at work, often, you do need to fill many gaps with proper reasonings to others, so they are informed of your request for change of date of requests or amount of information you can provide. We must take into consideration that in large organizations, the same department is also divided into silos. Signifying that just because you have certain knowledge, another team member, or co-worker will not. We cannot assume others have the same internal knowledge, no matter how trivial, that we have.
Repetition Builds Collaboration Confidence
I remember when matriculating for my physical therapy degree, most of the younger students would whine and complain about hearing the “same thing again”. What they did not understand was that information repetition was building their ability to use that same information in a variety of ways. Working situations are no different. Ensuring that everyone is supplied and has responded to either requests, or changes of information, or changes in timelines are vital for not just the success of a specific project; it builds the success for better working relationships. People that work well together will accomplish much more and more efficiently.
Morning movement and stretch programs can do more for you than you think.
Points to changing how you move.
It does not matter what we do for work, outside of work, or where we are, movement is key to doing anything. Even static positions are movement. Muscles must attain a certain level of synchronized firing or you would not have the ability to sit. Anyone that has even minimal neurological deficits understands this. This truth is never more important than as we age!
Certain joints are designed to provide stability, while other joints promote mobility. Ball and socket joints are more mobile, while hinge joints such as the elbow and knee are more for stability. In the diagram below, you can see alterations between stable and mobile from one joint to the next.
The lumbar spine (low back) should be more stable, but because of hip or thoracic joint movement limitations, the low back must become the more mobile part. In these cases, chronic low back pain and injury result. Looking at the model, “S” meaning stable and “M” meaning mobile, notice that the S’s and M’s alternate. Now further look and compare between the model’s right side: “How We Should Be,” and the model’s left side: “How Most of Us Are.” One joint limitation can impact all other joints—not only how they move but more importantly their job function!
Also notice that if the hip range of motion becomes limited—stable—then the knee, a hinge joint that is considered stable, becomes more mobile.
The approach to morning stretch/movement programs and work place wellness programs linked below begin to address this.
Employee health and safety professionals understand the importance of safety in the workplace. They know that safety comes in all shapes and sizes. Yet, when bad decisions are made by management regarding safe procedures such as lock out tag out, what are some of the possible outcomes? Well, this:
In this OSHA case study, luckily there were no severe injuries. But what was just as detrimental was the non-verbal but loud and clear message to the employees: “We don’t really care about you. It’s about how fast the product can be produced!”
Robotics assist in many ways. One way is to reduce possible awkward positions and sustained awkward positions of employees. When dangerous short cuts are imposed like the one outlined in the OSHA case study— allowing employees to climb into the robotics cage with the robot still moving—what else is an employee to think?
Couple the OSHA case study with this one, posted in the same timeframe in EHS Today:
In this article, Dr. Fulwiher makes excellent points and suggestions. Our take home, since this is what our organization tends to witness, is this statement of Dr. Fulwiher’s:
“This requires a transformation in the leadership of the organization, be it a for- profit or nonprofit, understanding the need to become more transformational and less transactional.”
This is very true, as most top executives and middle managers are truly only focused on the output in the long run.
People DO NOT CARE how much you know until they know HOW MUCH YOU CARE
So many articles continue to revolve around this mantra. And it is true, isn’t it? So, what can supervisors, employees, and middle managers do to demonstrate this at work and also outside of work?
Take an extra 45 seconds to dialogue with any colleague, co-worker, and more importantly, someone you do not know well.
When conversing, look them in the eye and notice the color of their eyes. Most of us don’t look at those we’re talking with in the eye.
You can smile when talking. Even if the conversation is a critical point, smiling shows that you do care, and also places the other more at ease.
We should not need classes on this. However it appears that we do, since there are books, audio tapes, seminars and lectures that all focus on how to become more attentive, genuine, and accountable.
Accountability Starts at Every Level— in Your Organization and in Your Community
We hear, read, and experience for ourselves the disappointment and frustration when someone is not accountable for something they said or something they said they would do. We know what it feels like, and we would love the unaccountable people in our lives to become accountable. Unfortunately, it’s beyond our power to change someone else.
Therefore, the only way to experience change is to change ourselves. This is what life is about: change. How can we become our highest selves, and how can we truly begin to treat others the way we would like to be treated? Here’s a way to begin in your professional life:
When at work, be accountable. What does this really mean? Your “yes” is “yes” and your “no” is “no.”
In a meeting, if you are asked to participate in a project, or asked to assist someone with something small in their project, don’t say, “I’ll see what I can do.” Either say “yes, I will,” and give them the date by which you’ll provide the information, or say “I can’t,” and provide a reason why. This is where your accountability starts. Becoming more direct, detailed and authentic will yield better outcomes in all of your interactions, whether with your supervisor, peers or employees.
As a role model of accountability, you can then begin to challenge your co-workers and colleagues in this area, as well as coach those you supervise to adopt this revolutionary mindset and value.
An employee comes to you and says that’s he’s hurting. In this case, it’s his shoulders. So, you look down the line for a workstation requiring a different activity, and you plan a regular job rotation with the person running that station on his same shift. With gratitude, the employee goes back to work.
Four days later, the employee calls in sick. His shoulders hurt too badly to work, he says. He says his doctor wants him off the job for two weeks. Two weeks go by, and ultimately he doesn’t ever come back. You’re surprised by this. You did what you thought would solve the problem. What happened?
This is a regular occurrence in manufacturing job rotation, and there are five common mistakes made in designing a job rotation program that, if avoided, will actually set you on the path to establishing an assertive injury prevention program.
Mistake #1: Not including movement training. Nothing would get done without humans moving. But are they moving the right way? Work has two parts: the tasks to be done and a method for doing them. Each task can be performed in such a way to minimize the risk of causing personal discomfort and injury. Do you know the best way to physically approach each task that a worker will perform each day, over and over? It’s not relying solely on the use of correct angles, which is common in ergonomics. That’s just a start. Using technology such as sEMG, it is possible to see how an individual’s approach to the work is causing him or her discomfort, and how to modify the approach to reduce or completely eliminate that discomfort. More importantly, sEMG shows aberrant muscle firing patterns and different types of muscle fatigue. Individuals most often can’t perceive this in themselves; therefore, identifying the patterns prior to an injury and prior to a complaint can dramatically decrease risk for musculoskeletal injuries. Health professionals highly skilled in movement retraining can then train individuals on optimal movement patterns for them that will avoid musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and injury.
Mistake #2: Not designing a specific stretching/dynamic movement program for each workstation. A generic stretching program is a good start, but if different movements are required at different workstations, specific stretches geared to those movements will provide the most benefit. For example, a welder may just need to stand up straight and perform forearm stretches between units to relieve upper body stress or have a high stool to sit on for a minute to relieve low back pain, or both. Workers need to be taught these specific stretches and countering movements along with the task at hand when they are rotated into a new position. Employees leading the stretch programs should have additional education on the general whys, hows, a developing critical eye, and an attitude of engaging employees that half-heartedly participate or do not participate. This type of engagement will assist the program to become better.
Mistake #3: Not breaking tasks down into their minimal components and addressing each. The task may be a grip and cut in food processing, for example, but there’s also a repetitive reach to get the next piece of work. Are all of these movements considered when planning job rotation? Analyzing time exposure, static positions, the number of repetitions, and stress angles on joints required by the work at each station are just some of the factors that should be considered in a quality job rotation program.
Mistake #4: Not proactively responding to complaints. If the lines of communication are open and broad between workers and management, the first hints of discomfort will be revealed. This is an opportunity to proactively address them. First aid massage, Kinesio Taping, and movement retraining, review and correction are just some of the tools that can be used to diminish the risk and return the worker to a better physical ability.
Mistake #5: Rotating employees to workstations with similar versus completely diverse movements. Do both stations require using the upper extremities in similar ways? Constant gripping or twisting or reaching and lifting, for example? How is the back being used at each workstation? Is repetitive twisting involved? Reaching down and pulling? If you can switch an employee to a station where none of the same movements are required you’ll get the best results. Even the order in which the rotation happens can have an impact.
Job rotation in a production environment is an art, but it can produce amazing results if done in concert with a highly trained production movement specialist. If you’d like a free and confidential consult on an area of concern in your own company, please give us a call at 803-716-9167.
We focus on the wellness of individuals using a unique, multifaceted approach. Our techniques to normalize movement patterns, as well as increase strength and stamina, are proven in both industrial and private settings. Our approach saves companies unnecessary expenditure on workers compensation claims.
We continue to seek the best means in technology, manual therapies, and movement re-training to empower all clients. We will always provide superior and customized attention to all clients so they may achieve their mission.