positive feedback

Coaching Unsafe Behaviors with Positive Feedback: 6 Tips to Success & Safety

It’s no secret that providing constructive feedback can be a challenge— for many of us, this task can be difficult to navigate. Feedback is an important part of every job, especially when coaching unsafe behaviors in the building materials industry.

The corrective coaching of unsafe behaviors can come from all of us. This kind of coaching is called feedback as a part of the Safety Culture Improvement Process— positive feedback lets the performer know what he or she is doing something correctly so that the behavior can be repeated in the future. Constructive feedback lets the performer know what he or she needs to do to improve performance.

Why is Feedback Important?

Feedback is an essential ingredient of behavior change. Many unsafe behaviors are habits, often performed unconsciously. To break these habits and coach safe behaviors, employees need feedback to be made aware that he or she is doing a task unsafely to then ensure that same action is performed safely moving forward to reduce risk of injury.

People are often reluctant to give any kind of feedback, especially, constructive feedback. Either they:

  1. Don’t believe that they have the skills to do it or
  2. They are afraid that the person on the receiving end of the feedback will become angry or upset.

Unfortunately, this fear is not unfounded. How an individual responds to feedback is usually a function of the way the feedback is delivered, so giving positive feedback is important.

How to Give Positive Feedback

When giving anyone positive feedback, there are a few general guidelines and talking points to cover. Delivering constructive feedback can be difficult, so make sure to always follow these key ingredients for quality feedback.

1. Focus on the Behavior

Focus on the behavior and not on the person—be objective. Emotional feedback will get an emotional response. For observed behaviors that put the individual at significant risk, stop the behavior immediately and coach later.

2. Provide Sufficient Information

Provide enough information so that the recipient knows what to do to improve. This doesn’t mean that you need to provide lengthy and detailed feedback– sometimes just a few words can provide enough information. Long statements are unnecessary and are more likely to give the person something to disagree with.

3. Focus on Safety

For example, if the individual is lifting with his back instead of with his legs, the feedback “Remember to use those legs” is sufficient. If the person has something to say, listen attentively and without judging. It may be that the person can’t do the behavior safely because of some constraint.

4. Be Willing to Listen

If, despite your best effort to be objective, the performer responds in a negative way, listen, acknowledge that you heard the person, and move on. Even when a performer disagrees you still have gotten his attention and registered your feedback with him about the at-risk behavior.

5. Follow Up

When the occasion arises for him to do the behavior again, he will most likely recall what you said. When you have given constructive feedback, it is important to follow up with positive feedback as soon as you see the individual perform the behavior safely.

6. Continue with Affirmation

Using both positive and constructive feedback helps the individual perform the safe behavior with greater consistency until he or she has developed a habit of the safe behavior. In the example given above, saying “Nice lift” when the individual does the lift correctly is enough positive feedback. You should continue to use positive and constructive feedback in tandem until the safe behavior is performed consistently.

Prioritize Your People with Positive Feedback

When you’re busy on the job, it’s easy to overlook unsafe behaviors or shy away from confrontation. However, ignoring these habits provides a disservice to your employees by putting them at risk.

At Kodiak Building Partners, taking care of our employees is our number one priority—this includes encouraging healthiness and minimizing injury through positive feedback. To learn more about how to deliver positive feedback or safety tips, contact our safety team today. Remember, healthy habits make healthy people!