Sunday, February 14, 2010

When an employee violates a rule or policy...

One of the challenges you will surely face if you are in a supervisor’s role is dealing with an employee who violates a rule or policy. When this happens it can leave you disappointed, frustrated, or angry. To help talk you off the emotional ledge, answer this question: Do you think they did it on purpose?

In almost every situation the answer will be no. And when it is, then next challenge is to figure out if they didn’t do it on purpose then why did it happen? Here are some possibilities:
1. They did not know the rule or policy existed.
2. They forgot about the rule or policy because they had not reviewed it in a while.
3. They did not understand the rule or policy.
4. They had not received training on the rule or policy.
5. They took a shortcut for some reason.
6. They were complacent.

Or some other reason.

The only way you can know for sure why it happened is to ask them. Following the advice of Steven Covey [author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People], seek first to understand, then to be understood.

Next, ask yourself what role you played in the error. Could you have done anything to help prevent or avoid it? What can you do to help prevent this employee (and all others) from making the same mistake again?

Fire Chief (ret.) Richard B. Gasaway, PhD, EFO, CFO, MICP
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1 comment:

  1. Chief, thanks for that great article. With your permission, I'd like to print it as written and share it with our Captains. It would make a great tailboard safety session.

    In a "Just Culture", we are just learning to learn... rather than to blame. Rarely do folks intentionally disregard or disobey, and I appreciate your sense of taking the supervisor "off the emotional ledge" before they attempt fact finding. A supervisor can't supervise if their decisions are clouded with emotions rather than facts.

    Take care.


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