Give a little bit of 'tough' and you'll probably get some back


We all know what happens to that which goes around (it comes around), so why do we sometimes forget that to get respect in the workplace, we have to give it too?

When training little ankle-biting, up-and-coming Superdocs - as I’m oft called up to do - I’ve learnt that the more the whippets fall down, the gentler my approach towards them needs to be in order to guide them to be their best.

They’re sensitive when learning; messing up or getting hurt doesn’t make anyone feel good, even if you’re comprised of bionic body parts with the ability to fly, turn invisible and communicate telepathically. And if they don’t feel good, they can’t do the job I need them to (the world, after all, needs more than one of me!).

Sony might need to come to one of my training sessions. The electronics giant has been under sustained attack in recent months. As soon as they deal with one problem, up pops another.

Why? And what does all this have to do with return to work?

In an article from the website PC World, “Why hackers hate Sony”, Erik Mack writes, regarding the source of Sony’s trouble:

“Sony's reputation for aggressively trying to protect its intellectual property rights may provide some clues.

“Purdue University security expert Gene Spafford, who testified before Congress about Sony's security problems, said there are plenty of examples.” (He cited numerous examples, including lawsuits, banning users, and inserting kits on peoples’ computers to limit what they can do.)

"The image that has emerged from all this is that Sony is a rapacious corporation with no heart," Spafford said. "Thus, it is not surprising that they might be a target for hackers."

At times, we see organisations frustrated at the claims they receive and the difficulties they face in getting people back to work.

And often the response is to try to get tougher. But, like the mini-SuperDocs, a tougher approach doesn’t always garner the result you’re after.

People need boundaries and they need rules. There must be systems in place to guarantee their existence.

Yet, an aggressive approach can be counter-productive.

Under-helpful supervisors, HR managers who deal with claims in a questioning manner, a production manager who gets grumpy when injuries occur, or an organisation that is seen to be "clamping down", might find themselves receiving the same treatment as they’re giving.

It can be hard to influence managers and an organisation with such a view. But it's not impossible. Using anecdotes from claims history, talking about personal experience, and using examples such as Sony might help. Heck, throw in the example about training SuperDocs – use whatever angle that allows you to reach people. Talking about how you might respond, or how the production manager might respond, in similar circumstances can start to open their eyes.

Similarly, if you're a claims manager or a claims organisation it is worth considering the overall framework you operate within. If it's an adversarial one, you might simply be making your situation more difficult.

When my SuperDoc trainees feel safe and respected, and aren’t afraid that I might kick them out of class for making a mistake, I know they’re working (flying, saving, protecting, scaling) their best for me.

Now, off you go and listen to a bit of this.

– SuperDoc