WPV Warning Signs & examples – Part 1

by todaystrainingblog

As I have noted more than a few times, and railed against here in this blog, there are always warning signs for one who will ‘Go Postal’ in a workplace violence (WPV) incident. And just as often you’ll hear me talk and dismiss the talking heads who say there was no warning.
But you have to be wary with WPV. The warning signs will always be there, no matter what, but they will be more subtle in most cases. Some of these perpetrators will be so over the top in their warning signs, you’ll think a movie was being made, and therefore likely to dismiss them.
The Signs
Many employees are adept at hiding their feelings and such. They are not teenagers and generally don’t have that teenage angst that makes SV easier to sound an alarm about.
• Threats
Veiled, public, private, verbal, written or whatever. These are one of the first things you’ll hear.
What’s considered a veiled threat? A man walked up to you throws his arm around you and pulls you close and with a smile says ‘you son of a b****, I’m gonna kick you’re a**!’. Is that a threat? Could be. It depends on how it’s said, who’s saying it, and how it’s said.
There is a huge difference in a veiled threat if you know the person or if they’re mad at you. I’ve had friends come up to me, after the WPV threats exploded in the 80’s – and did that to me. Was I scared or intimidated? No, because I knew the man and knew he was being friendly.
Do I know of incidents where someone has said breathy statements and veiled threats and no one took it seriously. A few hours, or days, later a firearm was brought into the building and tragedy was struck.
As for verbal and written threats, look at the context of them. If only a few people hear or read the threats, the better the chance of something happening. If someone writes graffiti on a wall warning of something, it’s not likely to occur. Is this always the most accurate measuring stick? No, of course not. However, all threats need to be taken seriously and investigated by management or the police. And as a co-worker, if you hear someone threatening another, then report it to your supervisor or manager. Even if that person is your best friend, which admittedly is hard to do.

• Attendance problems
When you have a co-worker who is having issues with their attendance, then you may have a troubled employee. Now, just because someone is missing a lot of time, does this mean that they are going to bring a firearm to work and start shooting people? Of course not!
There are many reasons why someone is having these types of problems. Some of these may be their own fault i.e. getting drunk, high, or something similar. On the other hand it could be perfectly legitimate why they’re missing work or coming in late.
Going to court, their health is causing it, car problems or any number of other reasons. And on the other hand, it goes far beyond those issues.
Arriving late for work, leaving early, and then just not showing up at all. This goes for their breaks as well. Do they leave the building or area for them?
Lastly, are they pulling a NC/NS on everyone? A no call no show. If they aren’t calling in and not showing up, this may indicate a problem. Many people have been found dead or in trouble because of not showing up for work.

Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on workplace violence prevention and other security issues. With numerous interviews, a twice weekly blog, articles, and 2 books he has proven himself in the security field for more than 31 years, and 23 studying workplace violence issues.
He utilizes his years of field knowledge to give real life examples of incidents pulled from both his own experiences and the news headlines. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or through his Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/oneistoomany. Here you will see and read about other items related to security as well as WPV.