The manager who cried wolf

by todaystrainingblog

How many of you remember that old folk tale? Those of us that are older do remember the story, at least partially if not in its entirety. And to abbreviate it for this post… A young boy was sent into the fields to watch the villages flock of sheep to ensure that the wolf didn’t… He became lonely & bored. He had been told that if he saw a wolf to shout as loud as he could, ‘WOLF’ and the rest of the villagers would come a runnin. So becoming bored and lonely he yelled loudly WOLF, wolf, there’s a wolf.

Sure enough, dozens of villagers came running towards the field. Needless to say they were upset when they found no wolf. They admonished the lad not to do it anymore. But the boy then proceeded to do it again & again with the same result. Finally, the wolf did appear but didn’t attack the sheep but the boy instead. He screamed & screamed but no one came to his defense and he was eaten.

Now as security professionals, managers, & even officers, do you do the same thing? Calling the police, human resources, or some other authority figure?  Even as a manager should you be making empty threats such as that? Does it help you to make such idle or empty threats of getting them into trouble?

The answer is emphatically NO! Why doesn’t it work you ask. You’ve used it in the past and it worked. So why not continue to make empty threats of authoritative action and prosecution? The answer is fairly simple and just like the boy who cried wolf. Sooner or later someone will call your bluff. They will come back; because of course you won’t do anything except blow balloon juice. The reason it worked in the pastis because they weren’t that committed to harming someone.

But over and above your integrity, honor, & duty making such empty threats can be fatal to officers and employees. How, you may ask? If an officer or employee has an order of protection dutifully signed & delivered, against a significant other and then they show up… What’s to stop them from bringing in a firearm or other tool to take you, and everyone else, out?

An incident that I heard recently was basically the same idea. Although he didn’t come back with a firearm, he drove a pick-up through the front of a strip mall store. The resulting damage, both physical & psychological to the employees, will take weeks, months, & years to get over.

You all know the law enforcement standard of “Don’t pull out your firearm unless you plan on using it.” The same strategy holds true with a threat of calling the police. Don’t threaten to call them or any other authority; you must follow through with the action. Another old cliché “Don’t make promises you won’t follow through with”.

Will it make things harder on the company, yourself, the employees & everyone else if you do actually follow through? It’s possible but not likely. The possibility of someone bringing a firearm back into the business to commit an act of WPV is remote. While it may happen… That’s why you need a plan, and training, in place to combat a potential incident.

But knowing that you will not call the police and try to appease them, like Neville Chamberlain & Adolf Hitler, will emboldened them to push harder towards intimidation, and possibly, following through with their  threats. Don’t give them any leeway in their response. Leave or be arrested or terminated. And most people will leave the business and resolve not to come back if you follow thru with the threat. And if necessary you may have to resort to a restraining order

In this day of increased threats of violence, workplace, school, domestic, terrorist and innumerable others, it is imperative that you back up your words with actions. Alert your officers, and any other front line employees such as receptionists, about the issue, every single time. Take the necessary protocols to protect the company, employees, property, and etc. And just remember, most times, when confronted a bully will back down from what they are doing and leave.

This falls in line with the philosophy of the new active threat response of ‘fight, run, or hide’. If we allow these people to bully us and we roll over like dead dogs then we have lost. If we have a chance to knock them off, by calling a ‘higher power’, before anything happens they’ll run like the cowards they usually are. And if they do that, it is most likely that they’ll simmer but not eat you for lunch as the fable states.


Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent nearly 33 years in the security field. Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many, where 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