Don’t you just hate it when you are telling something really interesting (to your spouse) and they are not even tuned in?  My husband says he doesn’t have to look at me to hear what I am saying, but it’s pretty hard to figure out if he is really listening to me when he’s watching a ballgame, or reading the paper!  When it comes to safety, however, we really should pay attention.  Our health and safety leaders are specially trained to help us all stay safe on the job.  Truly listening to the lessons they teach at work takes a skilled ear.  Communication skills, such as listening, are very important in the workforce.  There is a difference between “hearing” and “listening”.  You must focus with your ears, and your head, eyes, body, and heart.  What they are trying to teach you is for your own good. 

A transactional leader has a different approach than a transformational leader.  Both play very important roles.  The transactional leader is task-oriented and focuses on regulatory compliance.  He/she preserves the existing conditions and practices of the company, and is more likely to focus on the work than the worker.  A transformational leader prompts results in which the workers’ values coincide with the leaders’ values.  This type of leader is personally engaged with the worker and cares about them.  He/she focuses on both the work and the worker. 

I can remember going to safety meetings because they were required; I probably had other things on my mind; however, it was up to me to take the minutes, so I had to pay attention!  The thing was, though, most of the other employees were there because they either had to give a report, or it was mandatory.  Listening is a two-way deal.  The safety leader should listen to the employees when they tell them about any hazards on the job – after all, they are the ones who see them first-hand.  A good leader can prepare a message all day long – but it has to catch the attention of the others and deal with things that are of importance to their safety.  He must emphasize the importance of on the job safety supplies – how to wear it, and take care of it.  Otherwise, they may get injured because they did not pay attention.  OSHA has standards for all types of on-the-job hazards.  If company leadership doesn’t pay attention and insist on 100 per cent compliance, and an injury occurs, there could be fines to the company, and lost time from productivity. 

Listening is also a good skill to learn at home.  Your children may be trying to tell you something important, but you may be too busy to hear what they are saying.  Figuring out what teenagers are telling you is very important, and takes some “reading between the lines.”  Listening is a skill to have with your friends, too.  We all have so much to tell a good friend that we are just waiting for our turn to talk, rather than really taking note of what their news is.  A good friend who listens is truly a gift.   

If you have watched Undercover Boss on CBS, you have seen bosses in action, actually going out on the job and finding out what their employees go through to make money for the company, and earn their living.  They find out that it is a different world out there than sitting behind the desk making executive decisions.  Most have shown a very caring attitude for their employees after this experience. 

So, please “listen” to this advice:  pay attention at work, home, and play.  Stay safe and follow your safety leaders.  They know what they are talking about.