“Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” —Dwight D. Eisenhower
A Chief Operating Officer of a private country club asks:
I have heard of some managers, in the U.S., being physically assaulted by disgruntled employees. Is this something to be concerned about and prepared for?
Be concerned, be alert and be prepared. According to a recently released Justice Department report, one-sixth of all violent crime in the United States occurs in the workplace. We’re not just talking about deranged postal workers either. Anyone is susceptible and we are all vulnerable. When as many as a million violent crimes happen in the workplace we must be prepared.
The profile of those most likely to commit workplace homicide is an Anglo male between 35 and 50 with a history of violence against women, animals or children. They may have served in the military, own weapons and have a history of mental health problems and/or substance abuse.
We live in a time when the home and family have become less central to the lives of many employees. Additionally, the state of the economy, our mobile society and lessened sense of community makes THE JOB more central to a person’s life. A perceived threat - accurate or not - of losing that job, can trigger violent behavior. But, are we really surprised when rage erupts?
Experts claim that only about three percent of violent incidents occur with no warning. So, if 97% of the time some signal should have forewarned us, how do we recognize the signals? Supervisors must be trained to detect and report odd behavior - even if it means bringing in law enforcement authorities.
Warning signs typically include: substance abuse, clinical depression, stress, sudden behavioral swings, psychiatric, family or medical problems, obsessive behavior, personality disorders and making threats. Clearly, in combination, these signals should set off a mental siren.
We urge all employers to thoroughly screen job applicants before and during employment. Confirm with you’re your club’s attorneys that personnel manuals and policies contain language permitting inspection of lockers, desks, packages and vehicles on club property. Train club staff in handling such crises as workplace violence, bomb threats, harassment, fire, flood and medical emergencies.
Trust your gut. Alfred Sloan, former President of General Motors is quoted as having said "The final act of business judgment is intuitive". Time is your foe when you’ve got a hunch about a potentially violent character. Respect intuition as a monitoring device. BECOME HUNCH FRIENDLY.
Experts say the best defense against workplace violence is preparation. Consider the possibility that it could happen, prepare for it, be alert to it and learn the warning signs.
Harvey Weiner, Managing Partner of Search America® private club management search & consulting, is an agenda-setting, trusted advisor to club leadership since 1974. 800.977.1784. www.SearchAmericaNow.com