The power of Documentation & Corporate Culture
January 8, 2013
You may be asking why am I talking about the power of documentation and corporate culture in a blog that should be concerned with WPV? The answer is very simple. These are two things that can have a great and negative impact on the company and all employees. Maybe not today, tomorrow, or even next week, but it will have an effect if an employee (ex) walks in and wants to harm you and the other employees.
The Power of Documentation
This is one area that may be difficult for some employees and supervisors to even think about and why that is will be apparent in a minute or so. But you must start with teaching your employees that anything that is said must be documented in detail and original verbiage so that it can be handled by either HR, supervision/management.
This is where the uncomfortable part comes into effect. If an employee makes threats or is otherwise harassing co-workers, then the exact verbiage, with no asterisks, must be written down. It is unfortunate, but even if that employee uses all kinds of vulgar language and expletives the reporting employee/supervisor must write it down the way it was said. This is for several reasons.
The first and foremost is that employee must then ‘defend’ what they said to HR or a manager. There can be no wiggle room in the meaning of any words that were spoken. This may be uncomfortable for many people to do. If they are religious then it will be against their religious precepts. And even if they aren’t particularly religious it offend some to use such language.
But if the employee is terminated or dismissed because of this incident then they can argue, possibly successfully, that they didn’t say that and they mean’ to say this instead. This will throw doubt on the testimony of the co-worker into question and possibly cause the effect of no doubt into question. If that happens, then it may be thrown out and the dangerous employee re-instated.
If you seriously doubt that this would be the case, I urge you to look at recent arbitration cases in the news for stupidity. There are more than a few cases in 2012 that can be classified stupid and ruled in the favor of the offending employee for several reasons more trivial than wrong wording!
When talking about documentation you also have to have the date, time, and place where the incident was heard. If the co-worker over-heard it in the lunch room, then it must be stated that it was thereat approx. 12:15 PM on January 8, 2013. And it doesn’t matter where they heard it, even off duty. If they over-heard a conversation in a bar by the employee concerning their co-workers, then it must also be stated as such.
While it may be embarrassing for the co-workers they must be willing to write it down and report when they can. To not do so may endanger the lives of many other co-workers and the actual business itself. And if they were doing something nefarious themselves, then they will have to ‘out’ themselves as well to save lives.
Documentation is one of those vitally necessary things to prove in a court of law that you followed every possible recourse and that the employee was ‘destined’ for termination. All incidents involving employees all the fights, arguments, and so on must be documented every time. The supervisor needs to gather names of witnesses, exact times and dates, and what was said including the exact verbiage used even the expletives.
One thing that can cause workplace violence from current and former employee, dissatisfied customers and domestic violence is the corporate culture. Yes there are certain companies that promote workplace violence by the way they conduct their day to day business. First there are many companies that believe that it ‘can’t happen here’ so they refuse to deal with the possibility and create an atmosphere of intolerance. Companies with communication problems between management, floor supervisors, and the employee the lines of communication are closed and this never good.
You have to look carefully at your corporate culture to ensure that you’re allowing any of the attitudes that foster WPV to invade and be pervasive within your business and company culture. And if it started as sole proprietorship, then it may be a tad difficult for the owner to give up ‘absolute’ control over the business, but unfortunately they can’t operate it as ‘my way or the highway’.
So now I’ve given you a couple of other things to worry about in preventing WPV. Are you ready to try and prevent it or at least recognize that it’s possible?