• Brook Rush
    12
    This is a bit of a weird one, but thought I would put it out into the Universe to see if anyone had any fabulous ideas they have used in the past.

    We have a really good H&S culture overall at work, but we still struggle with pockets of the organisation. Unfortunately, when we look closer at those pockets, one common factor is that the majority of staff are older males. I am just keen to hear of any ideas or resources that others have put in place which seemed to have had a positive impact on this type of group and their view of H&S at work?

    Open to all ideas :)

    Thanks in advance!
    Cheers,
    Brook
  • Peter Bateman
    167
    When you approach these older gents you might find yourself encountering survivor bias.
    As expressed in the timeless comment: "I've been in this trade for 30 years and I've never been hurt. Why should I pay attention to health & safety now?"
  • Kimberley Schofield
    4
    A few things to consider:

    1.) They have likely been to countless types of H&S training and are possibly subjected to the same type of'talk at me and tell me things I already (or think I already) know' experiences. What do they have that they can bring to the table, that can then be built on? How can they be engaged in a way that is meaningful to them?

    2.) Plenty of training involves material that they may not be able to access. I have come across plenty of people of all ages, but particularly older people, who struggle with literacy. Over 40% of NZ males aged 55-65 do not have a literacy level that allows them to cope with the demands of everyday life and working in a complex society. If you combine this, with the fact that around 35% of construction workers do not have formal secondary school education, you can see how certain types of training and methods of delivery immediately disengage workers that may fall into these brackets.

    3.) Is the H&S training being delivered in a classroom setting? Again, linked with point # 2, this can be off-putting and intimidating.
  • Mark Kenny-Beveridge
    24
    A way I have found works with some is to seek their help. Often these people have lots of experiences and knowledge that just cant be purchased off a shop shelf and by asking for their input/help and to use/view them as them as mentors rather than dinosaurs sometimes engages/inspires them to participate in H&S more. The key is that it needs to be meaningful and practical. Finding what makes people 'tick' or their reasoning can be helpful also, e.g who picks up your role to supports your whanau/community/sports club etc. if you can't?
  • Derek Miller
    26
    HI Brook

    There can be a number of issues including what Peter mentioned. As someone in the profession I have attended many H&S talks in which I switch off, often because it is so generic that we've all heard it before and the presentors are talking down to the audience.

    When working with people it is important to actually engage them and gain their trust, when this is done you will find that many of these older ones actually understand what you are trying to do and often then help you out by suggesting things that will improve the situation, giving good examples etc and will take on board what you tell them.

    So it is always worth looking back at how you present, is it talk at the audience or is it engagement, the former is a switch off. I always have a chat with the older ones in a workplace and listen to them, it is always amazing what they know and see and it shifts the power base. By that I mean I learn from them and they see that they know more than myself on a number of areas around their job so it takes away the inspector mentality with a clipboard who is examing you and finding fault, or laying down the law, to one where it is just two people swapping information on an issue.
    So I always adjust my talks presnatations to fit the auidence and engage them not just get info over on H&S.
    So best ones I've been to enagage the audience and a good presenator will also adapt their talk/session to appeal to the audience in th eroom at the time. Watch their faces an dif they are disinterested change tack to bring them back.
    On the workfloor take time to chat with individuals about what they do and if needed work alongside them for a while to experince what they go through. From my discussions on the workfloor many workers admit they don't enage with the H&S teams or events as the H&S are seen as living in an ivory tower who don't know what they actaully do.
    So like Mark says engage them, talk to them, experince what they go through an dtreat them as indivudual human beings and not just a statisic to collect.
  • Jo Prigmore
    21
    I've used a similar tactic to Mark and / or asked about the example they're setting to younger / less experienced workers. Like "I know you might be OK doing that but what about the young guy over there. He'll follow what you do; how do we set him up not to get hurt"
  • Trudy Downes
    33
    I love the pockets of resistance, they have practical points of views about situations... once you can get them talking. I will generalise and say that these groups are problem solvers and don't like being told what to do. So present a problem and get them to solve it.

    I recommend a consensus approach. Consensus is not 100% agreement, it is a right to have your say and be heard, but the majority still rules. They might not be able to vote on what the end goal is, but they get to choose a path to get there.

    I ran a workshop with a lot of older gentlemen, I targetted one that walked in with that glint in his eye (aka the troublemaker). After introductions, I then specifically invited him to play a particular role in the upcoming discussions of being grumpy and cantankerous even though it was likely to be contrary to his calm and kind demeanour. How could he refuse!

    This achieved two things:
    1. a bit of laughter to start the meeting,
    2. and it gave me the right to check in with him on sticky issues to get the 'other' point of view.

    We had a great open and honest discussion because it wasn't expected that everyone was going to play nicely. People had a right to be grumpy but to exercise that right they had to speak up which lets you explore where the obstacles are to achieving the desired outcome.

    From there, lead the group discussion to where you want it "I hear what you say about obstacle xyz, so given obstacle xyz how would you achieve goal abc?"

    "I've been in the industry 30 years... (and so on)" You: "That's awesome! Then how would you achieve goal abc, particularly with less experienced people involved?"
  • Christina Carroll
    3
    As above, engaging with them in a meaningful way, not in a classroom setting. I've involved them in developing training and SOPs for operating a particular piece of machinery, Reviewing the past incidents on that machine, asking for their opinion on how this could have been prevented.
  • Simon Lawrence
    107

    Hooray for Kimberley, Mark and other replies above.

    Speaking as someone who, these days, definitely falls within the "older male" category, I'm acutely aware that when you have accumulated decades of experience, you tend to get grumpy if a person appears to be offering a solution that's just looking for a problem, (in the older males' view).Then, as a "pocket", these males will fulfill your self-fulfilling prophecy that they are grumpy and unco-operative for as long as you continue to try to convince them. It's like arguing with an auditor - It's like wrestling with a pig in s**t - the auditor (older males in this case), actually enjoy the experience.

    The secret (it shouldn't be one) is failing to at least show enough respect to ask, before assuming you have something good and worthwhile to offer. Once they are convinced you are a twat (rightly or wrongly), the journey back is long and perhaps impossible.

    Suggestion: At the first glimpse of grey hair and beer bellies (particularly if they are tradies, technicians, engineers, scientists, even senior operators), go into listening mode. But be genuine, these guys have been problem-solving for donkey's years, mostly with no thanks, so they are independent, self-motivated, dogmatic, determined, skeptical and bloody-minded. These are skills that got them through. Now, some upstart is waving a new procedure in their faces. Or god forbid, "safety culture".

    Example: Speak as yourself, don't use "We" as in "We are from Head Office, and we are here to help". The Weasel-Word Radar will spot that one. Maybe say: "I'm interested in these machines. They can do a lot of harm, as I'm sure you know. Please tell me how you make sure they are de-energised before you work on them".

    My bet is you will get an answer. Don't now jump in with your pet project. Show interest, ask more questions, build a picture. I'm not going to develop this too far, but you get the idea. At some point, you will be able to say something like "I'm glad you guys are aware of the risk and you are doing bla bla, but there's one or two concerns I have and here they are. How can we fine tune a bit?" Do not quote rules and regulations to a group. Save that for the one or two stubborn buggers and do it sparingly, one-on-one.

    It's not a magic wand, but this is the way to get these "experts" onside. You will probably get better than you wanted, in a fraction of the time, with little or no kicking and screaming.

    And imagine a "pocket of older males" putting their very partisan support behind your end result...
  • Sheri Greenwell
    190
    It's always a useful strategy to start by ASKING rather than TELLING people. It means the person facilitating training has to do a bit more thinking and planning to get clear about their intended outcomes, then plan to ask the kind of questions that elicit personal experiences and insights. When I used to deliver safety workshops for Fletcher Building's "The Managers' Toolkit" series, right at the beginning I would ask them to pair up and discuss what was working well. After a few minutes, I would invite them to share with the larger group, write their comments on a whiteboard, and engage them in a bit of discussion. Then we did the same thing discussing what they thought could be improved.

    With older, more experienced workers, more than any other group, the worst thing you can do is stand up and start trying to "teach" them. Instead, we can draw out and recognise their experience, adding insights and perspectives as we go. As much as anything, it's important to recognise that everyone is essentially doing the best they can with what they know. Many have been taught - either directly or indirectly - limited perspectives and unsafe practices, especially in times where their managers might have been more interested in financial gains than personal safety. In a way, if we start out by insinuating that they are "wrong", we will have lost them from the very beginning. It is much more helpful to "unpack" their experiences and aim to understand how they have arrived at their perspectives, then address those by facilitating discussions that lead them to new awareness and new possibilities. The more anyone tries to FORCE a person into a particular way of thinking or doing things, the more resistance will be created.

    Some resources I constantly refer to include the 21 presuppositions applied in NLP to influence change - essentially useful assumptions for dealing with people - happy to share if anyone wants a copy. Another is Dilt's Logical Levels, which provides a great tool for problem-solving. Again, I am happy to share if anyone wants a copy. Another is the general principles of "ask, don't tell" (you just need to learn how to ask better questions and develop better listening skills), and one from the list of presuppositions, "Always ADD choice, never take it away." - this reduces resistance to change; we just need to do our homework to identify where options are appropriate and where they are not.

    Another useful insight (essentially one of the presuppositions slightly modified) is to recognise that people are generally resistant because we are not meeting them where they are and we're trying to push too quickly, not recognising their needs for understanding and assimilating new information.
  • Kimberley Schofield
    4
    Hi Sheri! I would love copies of the resources you mention, please. I'm always looking for tools / resources to add to my arsenal! :smile:
  • Sheri Greenwell
    190
    What's your email address? You can send in a private message if you prefer. It would be easiest to email them to you.
  • Jim at SAMs
    2
    Just stay focused on the key message. Fortunately I have full support from senior management (semi elderly males) because there neck is in the noose if the proverbial hits the fan.
  • John Woodrow
    6
    Stephen Covey "Seek first to understand, then to be understood". If I ever feel threatened (in any way), my go-to position is to defend myself, and at that point I stop listening. End of effective communication.
  • Andrew
    298
    I'm a person who partly meets the description in this thread topic so eminently qualified to comment.

    The first issue that needs to be addressed is the assumption that "older gentlemen" ought to be engaged in H&S.

    This is an extremely fragile assumption.
  • Kimberley Schofield
    4
    I'm not sure what you mean - surely everyone is engaged in H&S? And if not, then they need to be. And they need to be engaged in an active way, to capture wealth of knowledge and increase effectiveness of strategies and actions taken.
  • Jan-Ulf Kuwilsky
    7
    Just to be the devil's advocate, what does it mean to be engaged in H&S? Is it the same as being engaged in making a profit for the company, or being engaged in producing the right quality of goods/work, or being engaged in getting the work done on time?
    in my view, all the above are not separate things and we need to stop thinking about H&S as this separate and stand-alone entity.
    The old fellas (me included) have been getting the job done, balancing the requirements of all the categories above, for a long time. Mostly, without too many incidents, accidents or deaths.
    So, as a few people have already pointed out, ask people to share their experience, but don't ask with a specific focus on H&S. Ask them to be the master training an apprentice by sharing the good, the bad and the ugly about how work happens. This then gives you opportunities to also share some of your H&S specific knowledge, statistics or procedures, and hopefully get a two way conversation happening.
    Finally, ask them what they think would help them get the job done better, quicker, safer, to better quality etc. Then see if you can help them with that, ie empower them, rather than hemming them in.
    My 2 cents' worth :-)
  • Andrew
    298

    I disagree. Not everyone is engaged in H&S. Nor do they need to be. That's not to say that if they want an opportunity to be involved in "H&S" then they should be allowed that opportunity.

    What they do need to be, is focused on how to do their job productively. And once that is established,how to be even more productive.

    If we have done our job properly we will have engineered risk management controls that allow a person to do that job without serious harm - so really the person doesn't need to think about safety.

    This is particularly so of your older gentleman who probably just wants to do a job with the least amount of hassle as possible.

    To have a "need" to be engaged in H&S suggests that H&S is a separate task. It ought not be. It should be something that just gets wrapped up within the total context of a job.
  • Jono Johnson
    32
    Hi Sheri, could you also please e-mail me a copy of the info you are sending to Kimberley Schofield? , many thanks indeed!
  • Sheri Greenwell
    190
    I have emailed you. Please feel free to contact me once you have had a chance to have a look at them - I would be happy to discuss further and answer any questions.
  • Lee Keighley
    14
    Hi Sheri, could you also email me a copy of the resources you have used. . Thank you in advance.
  • Deidre Rolston
    1
    Hi Sheri, could you please email me a copy of the resources you have used.

    Thank you .
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