Periodically, we ask safety pros how they’d handle a difficult situation at work. Today’s issue: The veteran employee who won’t take some friendly safety advice from a less experienced co-worker.
Manager Mike Kelly was reading a report so intently in his office that he was slightly startled when employee Jonathan Katz said, “Good morning Mike.”
“Morning, Jonathan,” Mike replied, not entirely unhappy to have a distraction from reading the dense report. “What’s up?”
“Can I talk to you about my new role as safety team leader?” Jonathan asked.
“Sure,” Mike said.
‘You’re not my manager’
“I think everything is going really well,” Jonathan said, “except for one worker. When I pointed out that he missed a safety step, he told me, ‘You’re not my manager.’”
“Who was it?” Mike asked.
“Aaron,” Jonathan said.
“What did you say to him next?” Mike asked.
“Nothing for a moment,” Jonathan said. “I didn’t see that coming. I thought you made it clear to everyone I’d be helping out with safety compliance. I didn’t think anyone would have this reaction. I asked him to follow the safety rule, and he walked away from me.”
“I’ll talk to him,” Mike said.
When he called Aaron into his office, Aaron told Mike he didn’t think Jonathan was treating him with enough respect.
“I’ve got more experience than he has,” Aaron said. “And besides – you’re my manager, Mike. If I’ve really done something wrong, I’d like it to come from you, not him.”
Mike had given Jonathan a safety role so that another person had a hand in safety. If you were Mike, what would you say or do next? Let us know in the comments below.