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Month: February, 2013

How do you Handle Domestic Violence (DV) in your Business? Part 1

February 26, 2013

 

                This is a very important question that everyone in the managerial arena needs to know the answer to. You ask why, it’s a personal matter. Yes it is a personal matter between the employee and their significant other. However, as the adage says: if it comes into my business, then it automatically becomes MY business!

                Too many incidents of WPV start off as a domestic violence (DV) incident. Therefore, it can intrude upon your business in a number of ways. From taking employees away from work to discuss personal issues & problems, either by intrusive personal visits or phone calls. Lost productivity, lost time, and obviously the potential of violence entering into the company and causing innumerable disruptions. Add to that the cost of DV in the workplace and you can have a significant problem.

                One of the first things you need to do is actually define what DV actually is. Yes you have to define it in order to combat it within your business. Don’t you have to analyze other problems within your business before they can be solved? DV is no different.

                Dv can be anything that is abusive or inflicts physical, mental, or emotional harm to a significant other.

                Constant yelling and berating them is DV. And this is the one area that isn’t often considered when talking about Dv. Verbal abuse is harmful, if it goes on long enough to an individual who is susceptible to second guessing themselves.

                One fact that you have to keep in mind when defining DV for your policy & procedures manual (my next post) is that anyone can be verbally assaulted. Verbal abuse can be as destructive in a marriage as physical abuse i.e. WPV.

                Many incidents of WPV involve verbal abuse and assaults. Our healthcare workers incur the verbal wrath of patient’s innumerable times in their careers. Sometimes this translates to the physical. And in many cases DV translates into the workplace as well.

                This is why it’s vital to think about in your business. If an incident of DV enters your workplace, it rarely remains confined to the significant others involved. Friends or relatives will join the fray or be caught in the cross-fire, figuratively or real. And in either event, the company could be liable for injuries because of it, and that could cost you.

Are we just going a tad overboard?

February 22, 2013

                 Our Kids aren’t being allowed to be kids anymore. They can’t play any of the games that they want to. The main reason is that they are scared that they’ll be suspended and it’ll go on their permanent record!

                I’m talking about little boys playing cowboys & Indians, army, or cops & robbers! These elementary school kids can’t even pretend to shoot the bad guys at school! These are games that kids have played for centuries! And now along with other forms of exhaustive exercise at recess or before/after school, it’s been banned or told it’s bad!

                I understand that the connotation to administrators and teachers, and some parents that it’s encouraging kids to grab a firearm and take care of a problem! Nothing could be further from the truth! We as a society are over analyzing it!

                Here is an article from Washington D.C. about kids being suspended, detained, and just being punished for being kids;

 

                                Finger Guns, Toy Guns and Threats: The Fallout of Sandy Hook

The Washington Post

 

Schools around the Washington, D.C., area are increasing security measures and tightening disciplinary actions in the wake of the Dec. 14 shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. School officials in the region have become increasingly sensitive about threats, intruders, and guns, and some children have found themselves in detention or placed on suspension for behavior that most consider playful.

An 8-year-old boy in Prince William County, Va., was recently suspended for pointing his finger like a gun at another student while allegedly playing “cowboys and Indians.” School officials suspended the child for “threatening to harm self or others.” Parents worry their children might have their permanent records marred by infractions stemming from simple childhood antics.

 Judith Browne Dianis, the co-director of the Advancement Project, a civil rights organization that works on the school violence issue nationally, said schools were in the process of increasing disciplinary measures. “Clearly, we’re post-Newtown,” she said. “We’re seeing more school districts rushing to hire more police, and we’re seeing a rise in the number of incidents of school discipline that puts common sense to the side.” While school officials agree there is increased awareness of potentially violent acts, they maintain good judgment is being exercised when evaluating such acts.

 

School administrators have eliminated dodge-ball because it’s too dangerous. The same goes for tag or freeze tag. They ban keeping score to stop kids from feeling inferior. We stop teachers from failing kids and holding them back. We tell these ‘lil angels’ that they are good and just try your best’ and everything will be okay! Nothing could be further from the truth. We need to teach our kids to fail. We need to show them that there are losers and winners in life. They need to know that people do keep score. Kids need to work off excess energy. And yet what do we do? We tell them no it’s bad.

We wonder why we have a generation of kids who are lazy and can’t finish their jobs. Or why they aren’t employable? Or why they get so easily upset and frustrated when things don’t go their way. And why they have such over whelming rage. The answer is simple. We don’t tell them that it’s okay to fail. We don’t teach them how to Faial. And as parents we hover around and are always there to tell them that everyone is against them when they do fail!

We wonder why there is an increase in violence in both schools and the workplace. And I’m not talking about the use of firearms, although that is certainly a part of it. This is the reason why there is so much violence in those places! There are other reasons as well, of course. But to be perfectly honest, the majority of the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the parents. Parents need to do several things to prevent this violence. It’s the same thing that my wife told my mother when she visited me for the first after I went blind.

Clearly and with love, she said ‘Stand up. Put your hands on your butt. Now sit back down’. After the natural quizzical look, she explained to my well intentioned mother. ‘He’ll never learn to do things if someone else continually does them for him!’  So, stop ‘molly-coddling’ our kids. Let them fail and let them play. If they show signs of being violent – any of the 15 warning signs of SV – then do something. But otherwise, shut the hell up and lets kids be kids. 

Do you have a DRP?

February 19, 2013 

Does your company have a DRP (Disaster Recovery Plan) that is not outdated and obsolete? In these of climate change, asteroids coming close to the Earth, and warfare you should ensure that it is ready to go at all times.

Not having an updated Disaster Recovery Plan is tantamount to giving the Uni-bomber a chemistry set and telling him to play nice! It just isn’t going to be very effective.

So what do you have to do in order to prepare for disaster, no matter the kind you may encounter? Each part of the country has its own risks and therefore your DRP needs to reflect. You won’t have a plan for tornados in New York nor will you have hurricane plans for California.

Below is a short article I wrote for a magazine article last year. I never got the article, so I’m sure the writer never used it. And it was written for an educational institution but it can be easily translated to business.

First of all, the institution absolutely must have a plan. If you don’t develop a plan and know how to implement it, then you’re lost no matter what happens. This plan needs to be coordinated between all departments in the institution. From administration, security, faculty, & even students at times. And while industry standards (i.e. ASIS) should be considered, they don’t have to be the be all to end all.

Specifically, the records that you must save in case of a disaster are few and simple. Student records such as personal information. Their academic records should also be kept. Not all of the notes or ‘homework’ that an instructor gives them but the basics. By the basics I mean the classes they attended, their grades at the time of disaster, and if they have done any ‘extra credit’ work, and if they passed or failed the course. And in the case of for-profit schools their payment of tuition. This is where your coordination team comes in.

You have to prioritize what records you’ll keep. In a large University you can’t possibly keep everything in terms of a disaster, it would take far too much time and space, not to mention money. So prioritize what you’re going to save. And despite the fiefdom’s and turf wars that erupt, the team has to keep focus on the task at hand.

As for instructors keeping information on their laptops or office computers, that is fine and appropriate. If they are university property, then the university should pay for the back-up service and no personal information should be allowed to be on it. And if it, then the cost should be split if they utilize an outside service i.e. Carbonite. If it is the property of the instructor, then they should split the cost. Using Carbonite is fine, but with any service you use, you have to ensure that it is an automatic daily back-up. That way, if the instructor forgets in the middle of a bad night, class, or whatever, then it will still get done.

As for the large store of information from the University, they should consider some sort of off-site storage of their records. And actually completely out of the region is preferable. The reasoning for this simple, Joplin, MO. And Xenia, OH.

If you want to store paper records then contract with a company that does cold storage. If you live along a major river, that shouldn’t be an issue, as in the Kansas City, MO. Area – there are hundreds of caves being used for that purpose. But there are literally hundreds of these sites across the country

 

Another important factor in writing a DRP is figuring out what your 3 areas of risk may be. Wha…? What is your vulnerability to an incident? Figure out what disasters are most likely to occur to your facility and then plan according.

The criticality of whatever you need to defend is also of paramount concern. What is the most vital and critical parts of your business or facility that need to be secured. As you saw above, you need to think about both paper and computer records. And there are myriad of other things as well to think about with this to the probability of such an incident happening. Sure a hurricane can be totally devastating and shutter your business for a long time, if not forever. But is it really going to hit exactly where your business is? No one ever thought a hurricane would hit New York City, and the probability is low, but they’ve been hit twice in 5 years. Your probability has to be reassessed if things change.

I’m sure you remember the old adage ‘The only thing around here that never changes is the amount of change’. It sounds like an oxymoron, but it really isn’t  Circumstances change all the time, no one storm is ever the same, nor does it travel the same path. And the same holds true for every single natural disaster in the world.

Likewise there is no one incident or event that is man-made that is ever the same. Certain things remain constant enough to plan for. And certain things are still done the same way. But nothing will ever happen exactly the same way twice.

Therefore your plans are critical to your survival in a disaster, whether it be man-made or natural. And you’ll never know if your plans are adequate until you test them and train your employees.

Look for an article I did decades ago on this subject. You’ll see that I was ahead of my time with some of it and it’s just as relevant now as it was then.

 

An update on the Numbers

February 15, 2013

 

                We’re 6 weeks into the New Year and we’ve had more than a few incidents of both SV and WPV so far. I thought that I would put it down here for you, so that it is close to you and you know what’s going on if you haven’t been keeping track of these as I do.

                In Arizona we’ve had 15 incidents. Most of them hit the headlines for a news cycle and then nothing more. Please remember that I don’t get all the incidents coming my way. Most of these I’ve gathered from news sources or someone will tell me and I’ll investigate. Also keep in mind that the media doesn’t think of either SV or WPV as I do. They believe it’s only SV or WPV if involves a firearm or threat of violence. Bomb threats and the suicide of a mental patient don’t coincide with their thinking nor does it coincide with being news worthy enough.

                Here is your list of Arizona violent incidents, so far as of this writing, in 2013;

SCHOOL VIOLENCE:

Baghdad January

Mesa January 16              

Guadalupe January 23

Phoenix January 23        

Gilbert January 30

Yuma February 5             

Youngtown February 6

Mesa February 7

Mesa February 8

 

Since New Town Ct. 31 total SV incidents and in Arizona 16

 

WORKPLACE VIOLENCE:

Scottsdale January 2

Phoenix January4

Scottsdale January 26

Phoenix January 30        

Phoenix February 7       

Chandler February 11

 

Number of Incidents 6

Total      5 Dead                  5 Wounded

 

Total Number of Incidents: 15

Total      5 Dead  12Wounded

 

                As a shameless plug for Today’s Training, if you would like to have a seminar on either workplace violence, for either hourly employees or supervisory/managerial employees, or school violence prevention, please call me at 480-251-5197.

                We also do consulting in other security operations as well in addition to customer service. But I’ll stop selling here. Stay safe and be well! 

Vigilance vs. Paranoia

February 12, 2013

 

                I have been told by a friend that my post on millinneals was just too bloody and I needed to let people know the difference between paranoia and being vigilant. So, I will attempt to make that comparison disappear in this post.

                I will get a little political in this just to expound upon my points. And I have to tell you that someone who is self-assuredly paranoid may have a hard time of this. But I will attempt it.

                I am paranoid. I make no bones about it. I have to admit that being paranoid about a great many things has kept me safe from being injured or assaulted because of it. And it has kept clients of mine from being robbed or suffering losses from whatever the reason.

                So when I teach classes in either security officer training or WPV, I stress the importance of being a tad bit paranoid! It is a trait that has served me well over the past 30 years or so and I have been told by more than a few that my instincts were correct.

                I’ve been asked by clients, offices, and bosses how I knew something was going to happen. The simple truth is I didn’t. I’m just cautious and a bit paranoid, therefore I always think on the dark side of life. Instead of being like Lou Reed (Take a Walk on the Wild Side) I walk with no light. Sometimes I am proved right and my instincts are so on target I scare myself (and others around me). Other times, ehhh not so much.

                But there is a difference in being vigilant and being paranoid, isn’t there? In my case, no there isn’t. But there are people who misunderstand what I say about being paranoid. So let me try to explain the difference between being vigilant and paranoia.

                I always try to be vigilant in everything I do. Again, this has served me well in my career and since going blind. In my opinion being vigilant means you know what is going on around you at all times. Paying attention to everything.

                Whether you do this perceptually or not. You might only notice something peripherally out of the corner of your eye and it doesn’t concern you at the time. But you have to file these items away for future usage.

                Hitler, Stalin, and hundreds of other authoritarian regimes have taken paranoia to new heights. They literally turn citizens against one another. In Hitler and Stalin’s case they turned kids against their parents – which is happening now by our government by the way.

                ‘Is your neighbor secreting or hoarding things from the west?’ or possibly ‘Are your parents speaking against the leader of our great nation?’ Now these were excessively paranoid people. And I’m not asking anyone to turn against a neighbor’s kids or their co-workers in this fashion.

                What I want people to do is to watch for those warning signs of SV and WPV. The ones that people ignore so well, especially with their own love ones. Look and watch for them and if you see anything beginning to happen and they start to pile up, then tell someone. Or at the very least get the person some help some-where!

                I played violent video games back in the 90’s and the early part of this century. From shoot’em up’s to racing games where you knock people off the road and kill them to win the race! I always did pretty well at them. My reflexes weren’t the greatest but my instincts were good.

                Now, parents don’t tell their kids the difference between make believe and real life. Remember there is no such thing as winners or losers anymore. Parents, schools, & society tell us that we’re all great people and we can never fail – then we get doused with ice water in the middle of a Missouri summer! No such thing as bad video games, parents buy games marked M, for mature audiences, for 5 and 6 year olds!

                I place a lot of the blame for our violence on both parent’s and society. It’s the parent’s job to regulate their kids not to let them run rampant and do their own thang or do what makes themselves feel good (which is a major cause of SV and WPV). It’s also their job to let their kids fail when they need to fail and help them to recover and do better next time.

                But being paranoid and being vigilant are 2 different things. You have to be vigilant in today’s violent world. It does no good for anyone to sequester yourself away from the world and believe everything will be all hunky dory in the morning. Therefore being vigilant is the best way to protect both yourself and your family.

                And I’ll add, with a lil smirk, that being just a tad bit paranoid isn’t necessarily bad either. It’ll help keep you on your toes and hopefully fine tune your own gut instincts to be more vigilant. And if you can become more vigilant hopefully you won’t get caught in a cross-fire or other crime. 

What are the Warning Signs?

February 8, 2013

  

Many times when at a business function, such as a Chamber of Commerce or networking event, I’m asked about the warning signs for WPV. And it’s surprising to me how many times when I talk to these owners and managers that they tell me that ‘These perpetrators just snap and there is no warning!’. This is what the talking heads and pundits on TV and radio spout.

I give them a subtle little smile and tell them no. There are always warning signs to someone who is going to ‘Go Postal’. The problem is that those around them and their bosses can’t, or won’t, connect the dots to see and try to understand them.

I then proceed to give them a few of the signs, so as not to bore and drive them away, and to preserve the possibility of doing a seminar for them (sly wink in your direction).

More than a few are a little surprised at the ones I talk about with them. And of course I bring up the most obscure ones and the ones least likely to be talked about. And I have no doubt that many of you reading this post may be surprised at these as well, even the security professionals in the group. So what are a couple of these you ask? Let me enlighten you on a couple of them.

Of the 21 warning signs, everyone will obviously know mental illness, drug/alcohol abuse, and disruptive behavior among them. But how about new political or religious fervor? Possibly violent video games? How’s ‘bout having a fascination with weapons or cruelty to animals?

Some people will then ask me succinctly ‘Aren’t those the signs of a teenager who wants to take a firearm to school to murder a classmate or teacher?’ I say, just as succinctly Yes it is. I then tell them that the warning signs for SV and WPV are virtually the same! And of course that surprises them as well.

Another that surprises most people is that many of the warning signs are so inter-twined that it is impossible to differentiate. Some of the warning signs for depression, drug/alcohol abuse, and stress are exactly the same! And not only that some symptoms of drug (ab)use are the same as they are for a medical condition such as a stroke or diabetic emergency! So it is impossible to classify someone as a drunk or just depressed unless we get them help in some form. And there are far too many resources for me to name and/or list here.

Warning signs for either WPV or SV are critical to understand in order to try and prevent the violence that occurs in our world. If you don’t understand them, then you will not be able to act pre-emptively to stop an event from happening.

It is unfortunate, but most people, I would venture today 95% of employees and employers have no clue what the signs are. And consequently, it may be worse, they don’t know how to help or prevent an incident from occurring in their school or business.

The biggest key in this is training! Yes, that’s what I do and yes I’m passionate about it. I want to help both businesses and schools save lives. And not just keep them from being murdered but traumatized as well because of a close friend or co-worker being killed or injured.

I’ve said for more than a decade that we have a choice when it comes to the warning signs. We can either choose to ignore or act upon them. But we can’t act upon them if we don’t know them! Think back to all the recent incidents that have happened since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in New Town Ct.

In both WPV and SV, we’ve had nearly 60 people/children killed, wounded, injured and unknown numbers psychologically traumatized (look at the strident calls for gun control and other such issues). In January alone we had 4 incidents of WPV in the Phoenix area. And since New Town there have been nearly 3 dozen incidents of both SV and WPV.

Do you want to know more warning signs, just write me or put it on the Facebook page.

Millennial’s & WPV

February 5, 2013

  

Within a few years we are going to be knee deep in blood ( and you thought it’s bad now) at our schools and murder at businesses. Consequently, only the rich, politicians, & criminals will have access to firearms. Why am I saying that? It’s fairly simple I believe.

Look at the many changes our society is going through. Our culture is changing rapidly and not necessarily for the better! We want everyone to like us and everyone to be equal to everyone. But that isn’t necessarily realistic, is it?

No, it’s not. Yet parents are teaching their kids how to expect to have everything they want handed to them on a silver platter! They are called ‘helicopter parents’. Mainly because they hover over their kids for life and don’t let them fail.

The generation that is called ‘the Millennial’s’ are just the first wave of these kids. And we can see problems with them in the job market and soon subsequently the rest of the work environment.

There are numerous stories out there about how the millennial can’t either find or keep a job. Part of this answer is that they are so not used to failing! We don’t let them fail any more. Everybody gets a trophy, nobody gets bad grades, no one gets held back in school, everyone gets a ‘good job’ no matter what the issue or how bad they did.

In a report I heard on the radio a couple of weeks ago (Jeremy Schapp on ESPN Radio) they interviewed a few college coaches on their athletes. They said that more than a few of their athletes called or were called by their parents as many as 10 – 20 times a day! And both the parents and kids get very upset if they aren’t excused to go talk them! What they hell are we teaching them.

In the job market I have noticed that so many of the younger people in the market don’t care. Like the young woman at the Verizon Store last year, she couldn’t be bothered to help my wife get a new phone! These people have no clue what customer service is nor do they know how to talk to people. And the worst part of this they don’t seem to care!

So as they start getting older and start experiencing a new reality with older than dirt managers, like myself, they will become more frustrated. As they become more frustrated and fail for the first time in their lives and they start to realize that their parents, while well-intentioned, did them a dis-service by sheltering them the way they did. They will be more apt to pick up a weapon and settle it.

As I have said many, too many to anyone who’ll listen, times they will do what makes them feel good about themselves, no matter what it is. Don’t think that’s true? Look at drug use amongst younger people. What about acceptance of things that even a generation ago would have been considered abnormal? And some of those were so abhorrent when I was born as to not be talked about and a horrified gasp from our parents and grandparents.

So, as the millennial begin to shoot and kill each other and those that are both older and younger, the government will a make concerted effort to move us towards a more socialistic style of living. We are already seeing that in several areas, including relying on the government to take care of us and the debt which is spiraling out of control and we’re told it’s not that bad – even though we’ve become a debtor nation.

So we can either step back and start teaching our kids to fail and that not everyone deserves a trophy or to be passed along in school. Or we can continue along the path we have until the blood shed becomes rampant in our schools and businesses and the millennial take control of the government.

I would prefer to stay in business and train people how to avoid both WPV and SV. But is being honest, open, and free in the cards with this new generation starting with the millineals? 

Training Your Employees in WPV

February 1, 2013

 

I’ve gotten questions from business owners and managers alike asking me this question. ‘Why do I need to train employees on workplace violence? I mean, they don’t need to know all that stuff it’ll just clog their day and cause them to worry too much! Not to mention, I really don’t think they need to know that nonsense. They need to do their job and not think about that stuff’

The very simple answer is that they do have to be trained on it and every facet that the company is doing to protect them. Not the minutiae of course, but the broad overview of your program and their safety. And it shouldn’t be any trivial matter.

Too many times companies don’t want to train their employees for only a couple of reasons. The first is money. Training costs money and lost productivity. If the training takes place during business hours then its lost productivity. If it’s done off hours they have to be paid so therefore it’s lost money. And let’s not even start on the instructor/videos!

Secondly, it’s the employer’s attitude that I mentioned above. It’ll just clog their day and cause them to worry too much about it. Then they’ll clog the bosses day! But if you have an incident on WPV, let me ask you a question; Do you want to have employees that are informed and know what to do or just run around in a sheer panic and make it worse?

The key to recognizing and preventing WPV is training. Employees need to know what to look for and why. Warning signs especially are something to train them on.

I would venture to guess that most companies consider any training over and above the orientation (if there is even any of that) session (on whatever the employee is doing) is useless and too trivial to worry about. In some cases they may be correct, but not in this one.

Do you not have to instruct your employees every year on sexual harassment? How about their benefits? Maybe changes in shift hours or conditions? How about a new machine or product line? You have to spend time to train them on these, so WPV shouldn’t be any different.

Training for an incident of WPV should be like all other training that employees, supervisors, and managers receive. It needs to be done on a continual and consistent basis. It does no good to train for anything for a few days and then drop the entire program because you don’t have time or energy. You have to make the time, find the money, and the energy to do it.

Do your employees get training on the newest machines and procedures on those machines? How long does it take to train an employee to efficiently, safely, and effectively operate a new process for mixing the chemicals for an auto battery or how to get the proper blood from a patient?

The general answer is several days if not weeks to perfect it. Yet many companies don’t train those valuable assets in protecting themselves and co-workers in security, policies & procedures, or WPV. And why is that? Because they have that that one most dangerous attitude I talked about before – CHH.

So how do I answer those owners or managers who ask me the questions above? As simple as I can, in my own blunt and direct manner, I tell them that one such incident can put them out of business because of the cost and that it can happen to any business, at any time, any-where, to anyone. And while the frequency may be low, it doesn’t negate the fact that it can ‘kill’ their business.