The power of the pen can…
You’ve heard the old cliche about the power of the pen can… do practically anything. The power of the pen can be a very powerful influence in the world. And when it comes to security it can actually stop bullets and death!
You may think I’ve went completely off the deep end with this analogy. But let me explain a bit and you’ll fully understand how the pen can stop bullets and in most respects death, or at the very least serious injury to someone.
It’s called using the pen to document. The power of the pen causes the advent of documentation to report such items and documentation can enable a company to refer an individual who may be close to… Therefore it can actually stop bullets and death.
Using the pen’s power and documenting items of, possibly not relevant according to most employees, is the easiest way to either terminate or get assistance for an employee who may be close to going off on the company or co-workers. If the employee is unaware of their behavior, then it can be used as a tool for any necessary assistance they may need and don’t want to seek for themselves.
The first thing is, However, you must start with teaching your employees that anything that is even potentially, no matter how remotely it may seem, threatening must be documented in a detailed AND original verbiage form, so that it can be handled by either human resources, either by disciplinary action or referring them to the employee assistance program (EAP (, or management.
This is an area that can become very uncomfortable for most people, and the reasoning is simple. If an employee makes threats or is otherwise harassing co-workers, then the exact verbiage, with no asterisks i.e. Son-of-a-b**** mother f******, 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 record it, in the exact way it was said. And it can, and more than likely will, become important in a legal proceeding.
Will this go against the religious precepts and practices of some employees? Of that there is no doubt. It will be painfully uncomfortable for them to relive, recount, and relay those vulgar words in a written report or in court. But the thing that we need to instruct them on is this; which is worse, the language they are forced to use or that someone gets hurt or killed because they didn’t?
The offending employee must then defend their words & actions to human resources, management, legal, security, or the police. There can be absolutely no wiggle room in the meaning of any words that were spoken. This may be uncomfortable for many people to do or listen to. And even if they aren’t particularly religious it offends some to use such language. But even forcing them to listen to such it is necessary, especially in a management position.
But if the employee is suspended or terminated 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, possibly, throw doubt on the testimony of the co-worker, with some legal maneuvering, into question. If that happens, then it may be thrown out and the dangerous employee reinstated. And that could be disastrous to co-workers, especially the one who came forward with the documentation and testimony.
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 there at, and I can’t overstate the idea of using the word, approx. when relating to the time because not every clock & watch is at the same time all the time. 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 no matter how uncomfortable it may be.
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-the fights, arguments, and so on must be documented every single time, even if it fills reams of paper. The supervisor needs to gather names of witnesses, exact, using approx., times and dates, and what was said including the exact verbiage used.
Will this be a pain the ass for everyone who has to document? Of course it will. Can it potentially save lives? Absolutely. If you knew if you got an oil change today would save you from your car breaking down on the I-1o in Phoenix during rush hour, would you do it?
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