He who winks at a fault causes trouble, but he who frankly reproves promotes peace. – Proverbs 10:10
You may have noticed that our team members keep themselves very busy watching our every move. For those of us interested in promoting good standards, this is great news. What better way to demonstrate your expectations than through example? Conversely, what better way to communicate those standards that do not matter to you? Every time you walk past a scrap of paper on the floor, you set a standard. Every time you fail to immediately correct a negligent action, you set a standard. Every time you respond negatively to a situation, you set a standard. You get the point, right?
These are the little ‘winks’ which add up after a while to cause trouble. That lead-foot forklift driver, who just flew by may be the cause of property damage or even worse. That office clerk who has his own way of completing paperwork may be the cause of an invoice error. That operator who prefers to not wear her safety glasses may be the cause of a workman’s comp filing. Left uncorrected, all of these team members, while certainly at fault, would share a common defense: their leaders failed them.
Either their leaders truly did not care, or were not confident enough to address the situation early. We often attribute the latter failure to younger or ‘green’ leaders. However, it has been my experience that leaders of any age or experience can exhibit an apprehension toward making on-the-spot corrections. Providing immediate, corrective feedback can be scary. One may be worried about upsetting a reliable work relationship, or handling a negative response.
So long as we remember that correction should never be about humiliation, but rather a genuine concern for the well-being of the individual and the success of the team, then we can confidently correct unwanted behavior. Or even better, reinforce wanted behavior through our actions.