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Module 6

Working with Management and Personal Training

Everything is related to safety either directly or indirectly. This section, while indirectly related to improving safety, focuses mainly on the interactions between yourself as a supervisor and upper management.

Understanding management

Many new supervisors are promoted from the shop floor without understanding the complexities of management in their organisations. Each organisation will be different but each will share some similarities.
Understanding how management operates, including their driving motivations, their primary manufacturing concerns, and their relationships with employees and external stakeholders, will give you as a supervisor an edge when dealing with management. This is because you can see where they're coming from. Understanding management allows you to anticipate their actions and demands, and you can use this knowledge to prepare your workforce to meet these demands.

'… I've let a lot of production and management departments push the (organisation) and just done everything I can, and obviously management would keep pushing it a little bit harder and it was only… a couple of months ago I think when the manager caught up with me down the back yard and I was going… I can't do this, this is nuts… and he's (Manager) pulled me up and taken me in his office and he said what's the problem? I told him and… things sort of changed a little bit. 'Cause I wasn't telling him, he just saw it not happening and he was used to seeing it happening so like I said I didn't help myself and I don't go tittle tattling and you know... it's like I don't like to be the one complaining. It's just right there's the job, I've got to get that job done. So I have learnt that well when it does get to a certain point I've got to put my hand up and go hang on, get him (the manager) out there, drag him out there myself.'

Negotiating with upper management

Once you are familiar with how management operates you gain a more favourable position when it comes to negotiations.

Upper Management
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You must not come to the negotiation table empty handed. If you have something specific you want to discuss and resolve be prepared with hard facts which back up your point of view, be they actual audit reports or written documentation. Demonstrating the long term costs versus the long term gains is one way you might do this, and will make getting support much easier.

You should also consider resolutions to the problem before you begin negotiations. If you can put some solutions on the table, with some evidence that they will be successful, then you are much more likely to get the support you need. These solutions may be alternatives to current problems, or contingency plans for when something goes wrong (such as malfunctioning equipment).

Confidence sells

As a supervisor you are very familiar with your work area. You are at the coal face every day. You understand the employees, what drives them, and how they like to be treated. You understand the production limitations and how to spot dangerous situations effectively because you are the person most familiar with that area.

Consider these facts when you are going into negations. You are in a position of power because you are familiar with your area. Your knowledge should be utilised by management if any real benefits to safety are going to happen.

If you still can't get your message across encourage management to walk the shop floor with you so you can show them exactly why change is necessary. Nothing sells a point quite like explicitly showing the direct effects of a problem.

Seeking further training

As a new supervisor you may not be aware of the types of training available to you. The best way around this is ask management directly for a list of available and suggested courses to take to further your own skills, not only as a supervisor, but as an invested member of the company who is interested in developing skills for the future.
Some of the types of training you should consider include:

  • Work Health and Safety
  • Developing safe work culture
  • Frontline management
  • Change management
  • Managing Multicultural teams