There’s a difference between training and coaching. Let Barry Weissman, vice president of Hillman Environmental Group LLC located in Union, N.J., with more than 25 years in the safety industry, explain, using confined space entry as an example:

“There are specific procedures attendees must be trained on, such as knowing they must measure the oxygen levels first, which air monitor to use and how to use it, the order in which the areas of the confined space must be measured, etc. The trainer teaches the information and then asks the student to demonstrate the learned information while throwing in some “what-if” scenario-based questions.

“The coaching aspect takes place when an actual confined space entry is being made and the trainer is present to observe the learned materials in action, and ensure the procedure is being done correctly.”

5 coaching tips

You may already be coaching your employees without realizing it. Here are five tips to make sure you are using your coaching skills to make your safety and compliance training more successful.

Conduct a needs assessment.Use pre- and post-testing when training to know what has been learned and when something missed the mark.

Communicate.Share your learning expectations. Give clear instructions when training and coaching.

Set the example and be present.Practice what you teach and be present when the learned information is being applied.

Listen.Listen to your workers to understand what they are thinking. By listening before reacting, you will find that you are better equipped to help the employee understand the need for safety procedures. In some cases, the employee probably hasn’t thought it all out before his own reaction. Your assistance will help him think it out.

Stay positive.Take a “how to” rather than “you’re doing it wrong” approach. Coaching is your opportunity to correct a wrong-doing, but the worker should know that it isn’t a failure but a learning experience.

About pink hard hats…

I was once on a construction site and noticed a worker wearing a pink hard hat. The foreman told me he had a few pink hats in the trailer for the guys who forgot their hard hats. Although this is an effective way to get workers to follow the rules, and somewhat humorous, at the end of the day the worker lacks the full understanding of why wearing that hard hat is so important. Being in compliance is essential, but workers who have a deeper understanding of the benefits of safety and how being safe is personal to them is how you begin to develop a safety culture.

Field Guide to Consulting and Organizational Development, Authenticity Consulting, LLC/ Carter McNamara, MBA, Ph.D., 2000