Bright ideas to engage our... older gentlemen workers in H&S
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.