Is your management style risking an incident?
So many managers & employees believe, with absolute certainty, that they are not in danger of having a workplace violence (WPV) incident. And this is despite the fact that they have already had one and don’t recognize it as WPV.
There are certain companies that have attitudes, styles, and cultures that will make an incident more likely to occur than not. But if you try to discuss it with them, they will poo-poo and guffaw the very thought. And why do they do that? The liability of admitting it beforehand.
If they ignore the problem, they can then truthfully say ‘I didn’t know they were capable of that. There was no warning. And in truth they are acting like an ostrich. Management will stick their heads in the sand and never actually acknowledge the issue.
Look at these most prevalent management styles & company cultures and decide for yourself;
Authoritarian style of Management:
The best way to describe this is my way or the highway! No room for debate or questions. No leeway for anything but the, the dreaded stolid, corporate line. This style of management ignores and punishes innovation, creativity, & independent thought from employees. And if you loathe and punish those things, then you are alienating your employees.
If employees believe management is incompetent it may leave them with ‘no choice’ attitude which can lead them to violence. And if they feel that way, then they, potentially, will lash out and attack, like a trapped animal.
Whether the incompetence is real or just perceived doesn’t matter. Perception is Reality, meaning, simply, what they believe is their reality, whether it is the truth or not. And that perception can be dangerous.
Perceived unequal treatment:
This one goes a little deeper into a person’s state-of-mind. If they perceive that someone else is getting preferential treatment over them, then it could be trouble. It usually will manifest itself in one way or another. Remember WDBJ in Roanoke, VA?
Like a 2-year-old, these people demand the same treatment as someone else, whether they deserve it or not. They want the same candy as everyone else. In simpler terms, they want a communistic form of employment where everyone is equal no matter how many times they screw up.
Inconsistent enforcement of policies & procedures:
If management, or their representatives, is actually treating some employees differently than others. And they aren’t doing it because of disciplinary actions or rewarding behavior. They are doing it simply because they don’t know better, they don’t like the one employee, or they haven’t even thought of it because they have tunnel vision in getting the job done.
NIH-not invented here:
One of the styles I hate the most. And unfortunately in my 32 years in the security field, I’ve seen this hundreds of times.
And practically every time a good idea was given only a cursory ‘look-see’ if it didn’t come from supervisor or higher.
The prevalent attitude amongst the client, or company management, is simple. “Those idiotic flunkies are too stupid to have a good idea”. Ideas are tossed aside because they came from someone without a degree or worked the front lines.
CHH-Can’t happen here:
Another one I shake my head about sadly. This is the most dangerous attitude that a company can have in avoiding WPV. EVERY SINGLE COMPANY I know has had an incident. Maybe not fatal, but they have had one. And yet they deny it because it Can’t Happen Here.
This comes from the c-suite telling everyone the company is so well respected and treats their employees so well…; no one would want to do us any harm! Just because you have a good work environment and a lot of perqs, doesn’t mean that it can’t happen at your company.
How HR conducts their business
Too many times, the HR departments are so tightly intertwined with the c-suite. Doing their bidding and being thought of as a cost center instead of a source of financial return, which just like security they are. This makes their jobs even harder, and unfortunately they can’t bend with the wind. And if a tree can’t ben with the wind in a tornado, then it will break.
This one is fairly simple, I believe. If a company follows the rules, regulations, policies, & procedures like a prison environment, then they will have no empathy for the employee. I will leave you with an example of having no empathy from a major defense contractor. I’m not sure of the exact year, but I believe it was 1992.
A man had taken time off because his young son (less than 5 years old) was dying of cancer. He grieved and buried his son in that time. The day he returned from leave he was called into a meeting, with a memo. At the meeting he was told he was being terminated because he had taken too much time off for ‘undefined’ reasons. He promptly shot and killed a couple of people in the meeting with him.
Is your company following these management styles that can cause a WPV incident? They are so easily rectified and fixed. But a word of caution here. There are no guarantees in life. You could be the best company to work for in the world and still have a WPV incident, so changing your management style isn’t the only answer.
Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 32 years in the security field. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many. Here you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.
I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear