This is a topic I wrote for a safety meeting at my company. I might not actually get to share it so I hope it encourages or challenges someone here!
I want to share my perspective on something that applies to safety both directly and I think in a more important way indirectly. I want to talk about whether or not your job here matters. Like does it really matter? We all have lives outside of work and we generally believe that we are only here because we have to get paid in order to do what we want. Which is not this for most of us. Now I am going to try and not get philosophical about this because I think there are a few basic things we can all agree on. What does matter?
So how you spend your time and how you treat those around you matters. Most of us if we thought about what kinds of things we would like others to say about us would talk about how we treated people and how we managed ourselves given the resources we had to work with. Let us do some quick math about how much of our time we choose to spend at work.
37 weeks * 8 hours a day * 5 days a week = 1480 hrs a year at work.
(24 – 7 hrs sleeping – 8 hrs working) * 365 = 3285 hrs awake each year and not at work.
Percentage of awake time each year at work = 1480 / 3285 = 45%.
If you are complacent in how you view your time at work for what you think is important in life, you will miss out on roughly half of your opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives including your own.
What you Think and Say Matters
There is a big difference between someone that comes to work and does the minimum because they feel entitled to their job or are ok with staying where they are at in life and someone who views their job as a limited opportunity to make the best of what they have. If you think about your job as something life has imposed on you then you will resent just about every rule, policy and instruction you have to follow here.
I am going to switch gears now that I have introduced what I want to say. I am going to say it now, expand on it and then say it again. If you believe that what you do here matters, you will manage yourself in a way that you are proud of. If you are proud of what you do, I bet your manager will be to. If you believe that your time spent here doesn’t matter, there isn’t a gruesome death video in the world that we could show you that would make you pay attention.
I will give one example and then end this. When I am checking a drawing before I submit it, I always face this question in my head; Even though I feel like I have checked everything already once, Should I check it again in order to be diligent? Often times I will think back through my head about the process I went through in order to get to that point and feel like I did a good job and so I don’t need to check it again. That leaves me with this uneasy feeling of playing a game like battleship. I am pretty sure that I know where their ship is because of my analysis of the situation but the only way to find out is to guess and see. The days where I think that my job doesn’t matter and it is someone else’s responsibility to check my work (two other people actually) I have made some mistakes that have cost this company reputation and money. Not every time. Sometimes other people will catch my mistake. A machine shop or my checker maybe. But they don’t know my project like I do. I am the only one that has seen every aspect of what I am doing. You are the only one that knows the specific problems facing you. Weatherford can and has made policies to cover everything they can think of. But they are only useful if you understand how they apply to your situation. We do a lot of different work and for most of us there are regularly exceptions to just about any rule. When you feel like you are playing battleship at work don’t just disregard it. The easiest thing to do is simply tell your manager. We often don’t do that though because we don’t want to feel stupid. The truth is that there are stupid questions. And it is unfortunate if you feel like you keep asking stupid questions and so maybe you choose to stop asking any questions. A lot of our work is not very complicated though. If you get in the habit of learning to ask yourself just a couple questions about what you are dealing with you can probably figure out things that will give you the necessary confidence to do your job well. When you can’t you should ask someone else.
This is the essence of Take 5 in many ways. But don’t just think about whether something is going to physically be in the way of your next move. Think about how you can do your job better. Think about what kinds of questions you can ask yourself at different times to keep yourself ahead of the game. Try to anticipate what step might be next if you are assembling something before you look at the instructions. If you are in accounting try and think about how the company could save money if you see different patterns. Try to think of how you can make a difference in the lives of those you work with. Anything and everything you do that will help you care about being here will make you better at what you do. If you are thinking about what you are doing you probably won’t be caught off guard by something unexpected. We all have a lot of free time mentally at work. Whether you are walking from one task to the next or screwing the 100th set screw into a packer. If you check out mentally in these times, days will drag on and on. You can take these opportunities to think about what is important at work. If you do that you will be able to stay engaged all day long at work (as long as you have enough sleep of course).
I believe that the things that we do and say at work qualify or disqualify us for the opportunities that we really care about. You don’t know exactly what will make a difference but if you care about the things you are responsible for then you will have done everything you can to qualify yourself for the opportunities that would matter to you. In closing, don’t play battleship at work, choose to encourage someone instead of complaining and try in your free time at work to ask yourself what you can do to make things better. I would recommend that people use radar cards to highlight people that are really taking ownership of their job as well as people that are being dangerously complacent. If you can stop the attitude before the incident then we won’t have to deal with the incident. This topic applies just as much to us office people as to the people working on the shop or in the field. If you train yourself to care about what is happening at work, you just might enjoy it more, get a raise or save someone’s life. Who knows? Thank you for listening.