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Helpful Tips to Engage Your Team

- March 19, 2019 by Terio Duran (View all posts by Terio)

I vividly remember Mr. Evans to this day. He was my sixth grade U.S. history teacher.  He had a gray handle bar mustache with gray bushy side burns that extended down each side of his face. He was bald, except for a patch of gray hair on each side of his head. He wore a pair of round silver frame glasses, suspenders with rolled up shirtsleeves. Wore his pants tucked inside a pair of old brown leather boots. He literally looked like someone who had just arrived from the 1800’s.

The other part I remember about Mr. Evans was how much he loved to teach and how excited students would get to be in his U.S. history class.  Even the kids like me, who sat in the back of the classroom, who were too cool for school. Even for those kids he somehow had a knack for getting them engaged and involved.

Mr. Evans would start his class every day with a 5-minute rapid-fire session. He had a student aide who was at the ready to document extra credit points. Mr. Evans would shoot out questions as if he was an old gunslinger shooting bullets from his trust worthy revolver!

“Who can tell me the names of the 13 original American colonies?”

“Boom, extra credit for that young man!”

To add emphasis, he would stomp his feet so loud it sounded like fireworks had gone off when a student answered correctly.

“Who was the 16th president of the US?

“Bam – extra credit for that young lady!”

“Hey you in the back row, in what year was the declaration of independence signed?” “Bam, bam – extra credit for that young man!”

Wrong answer? No problem. He had a great way of knowing just how to use an incorrect answer as a teaching opportunity, without embarrassing you in front of your classmates.

Mr. Evans is a great example of a teacher that figured out how to engage his students. He did not regurgitate words from a book or a handout. He did not rely solely on videos or presentation slides. Instead, he challenged his students with questions and storytelling. He recognized and rewarded his students in front of their peers and he coached them through wrong answers. It was a powerful and effective teaching approach that we can use too. We may never be as great a teacher as Mr. Evans but we can certainly use his methods to be better trainers and teachers.

When you hold your next staff meeting or training session consider implementing a few of the following approaches:

Write down 3 to 5 important points from a topic and develop a question for each point. Each question can then be posed to the group and used as a discussion point.  Example below.

Topic: Safety Glasses

  • Give me an example of something we work with in our facility that can cause an eye injury?
  • Who can tell me what would happen to your quality of life if you lost your eyesight?
  • Could you continue providing for and supporting your family with impaired eyesight?
  • Is it ok to use your prescription glasses instead of company assigned safety glasses?

I also like to use some of the resource tools below to make safety meetings a little more engaging.

  • Motivational speaker Richard Hawk has some great video resources and blogs on how to make safety fun.  Click on the following link to visit his website https://www.makesafetyfun.com/
  • Incorporate power tools, ladders, machinery, etc. into your safety meetings. Ask employees to explain safe work practices, safety features and devices that keep them safe.
  • Use personal stories and real life examples to reinforce your message. Short YouTube videos and FACE reports on OSHA websites are a good source.