It’s About Standards

One of my technician’s boots

I work in the Field Operations Department for the local telecommunications company and as such, we have uniform policies centered around professional appearance and more importantly, safety.  One section of the policy regulates the type of footwear that Field Ops members must adhere to.  We must wear work boots with specific materials, shape, and other attributes that protect us from the various hazards we encounter, such as ladder climbing, electricity, etc.  We believe in the benefits and protections of the work boot so much that the company buys every single Field Ops employee a pair of work boots every year and us leaders conduct monthly inspections to determine the efficacy of the employee’s current pair.

A couple of weeks ago on a Saturday, I noticed another leader wearing canvas type sneakers that were against policy and would not be able to protect the wearer from any of the numerous heavy items we use, should it fall onto their feet.  I asked them about this, and the reply was that they were not going to go out in the field and would only be in the office for the day.  I replied that the boot policy held for the entire workday, regardless of location and that they should do their best to protect themselves and set a good example.  They nodded in agreement, and we moved on to other topics.

This past Saturday I observed my same peer wearing the same non-compliant shoes and this time I asked if their feet were ok, as I was genuinely concerned that they may have had an injury that would prevent them from wearing the heavier boots.  However, they asked, “Why are you so concerned with my shoes?”.  I replied, “It’s really not about shoes, it’s about standards”.  I first spoke about how our department is one of the best performing Field Ops teams in the enterprise because of not only the high standards we expect in our technicians, but also the high standards we expect in ourselves as leaders.  To require our techs to wear work boots but not ourselves would lessen our influence to hold them accountable for other policies and procedures.  The “Do as I say and not as I do” type of leadership isn’t an effective technique for success.  Lastly, I appealed to their safety and their family, and asked them to think about the repercussions for their loved ones if they were to encounter a foot injury, an injury that could have been mitigated with the work boots.

Another technician’s boots ready for inspection

My peer again nodded in agreement, but this time I gained their commitment to wear the proper footwear.  We’ll see if this commitment is fulfilled next week, but I am optimistic.  Let me know what you think of my communication and if you would do something differently.  What do you think my next step will be if next week my peer is still wearing shoes?  I’ll keep you posted on our progress.    

Author: Allen Camacho

As an experienced leader, my purpose is to lead those around me in a way that makes them feel heard, valued, and appreciated in order to achieve a high standard of excellence, together. With over 2 decades of professional leadership experience and overcoming some of life's difficulties, I offer a unique perspective on how to assist those around me in improving their personal and professional life. As a person with one lung, I take in every moment one breath at a time. Unapologetic Wolf Pack, Raiders, Warriors, and Guardians fan (in that order).

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