Depending on the dynamic between employees and managers in a workplace, approaching and opening a dialogue about unsafe behaviors can be a little bit daunting. You want to approach the situation in a delicate way, as to not bruise egos or spark tempers, but you also need to be firm in communicating your expectations. To accomplish these communication goals, let’s take a look at the S.E.A.T. Method, as described on SafetyBuiltIn.com
SEAT is a method for talking to workers about correcting unsafe habits and is an acronym for:
- Stop the action
- Engage the employee
- get Agreement
- Thank them
The SEAT process walks you through initial engagement to correction and closure, all with a flexible “script” to follow. Let’s start at the beginning.
Stop the Action
[sws_blockquote_endquote align=”” cite=”Eric Svendsen – safetyBUILT-IN” quotestyle=”style01″]The first step is to STOP the action. Keep it simple, keep it direct, and keep friendly. Say something like, “Hey, John, do you have a minute? I need to talk with you about something. [/sws_blockquote_endquote]
This first step lets you intervene and immediately halt an unsafe action, while at the same time remaining calm and casual. You want to invite the employee to speak with you in a quiet, safe place and do so without being confrontational or raising undue alarm.
[sws_grey_box box_size=”630″]Eric Svendsen, Prinipal, safetyBUILT-IN explains more in detail about the first step, Stop the Action:
Engage the Employee
[sws_blockquote_endquote align=”” cite=”Eric Svendsen – safetyBUILT-IN” quotestyle=”style01″]Start the engagement step by noting your personal observation, and the goal of keeping each other safe. Keep it non-confrontational and respectful. [/sws_blockquote_endquote]
In your opening lines of dialogue, don’t reach directly for the issue at hand. Ask the employee how they are doing, and also acknowledge that they are busy and that you don’t want to take up much time, but just needed a quick chat. Next tie this in to safety, and move towards the issue. Be direct about your observations and concerns, but be compassionate, not condescending. Connect with the employee as personally as you can. Maybe you know a favorite hobby of theirs; communicate that if you were in their position you know an injury could mean missing out on a lot of your favorite things. As you bring the conversation to a close, be sure to remind them that safety, and the specific conditions leading to your conversation, are company policy and that you need them to be followed. Be firm in this statement.
[sws_grey_box box_size=”630″]Eric Svendsen, discusses the second step, Engage the Worker:
[sws_blockquote_endquote align=”” cite=”Eric Svendsen – safetyBUILT-IN” quotestyle=”style01″]It’s going to be important to transfer a sense of ownership for safety to the person you’re coaching.[/sws_blockquote_endquote]
Make your request for compliance a statement that sounds like it’s coming from a peer, not a superior. Telling your employee that you’re committed to safety, and you know that they are too, can help them to internalize your own goals. Let them know that if they’re in any doubt at some point about whether something is safe or allowed, that they can and should always come to you and ask.
This part’s easy: Make sure they know you appreciate their time! Additionally, thank them for understanding where you’re coming from and shake their hand. If you can send someone back to work with a positive impression of an interaction that could have easily be interpreted instead as disciplinary, you’ve done a great job of navigating the SEAT method.
[sws_grey_box box_size=”630″]Eric Svendsen, discusses the third and fourth step, Get Agreement and Thank Them:
Resource: Eric Svendsen “S.E.A.T.” Coaching Method 13, October 2013