Thursday, December 3, 2015

Workplace Violence - Stop the Wait and See NOW

Yesterday's shooting in San Bernadino, CA - while now known as a terrorist attack, also serves as a horrifying reminder of the potential for workplace violence.  It prompted me to share this (updated) article from three years ago.  This article is a reminder that there are warning signs, and there are things we can do to prevent workplace hostility.  Waiting, and hoping for things to magically get better, isn't an acceptable solution.  Gun legislation won't change the situations that cause someone to want to get a gun.   Something else has to give.
All too often we miss the warning signs...and there are many.  Single incidents of conflict or tension may upset or confuse, but they don’t trigger a drastic response.  Rather, it is the historical repetition of events – be it bullying, intimidation, refusal to cooperate, or other unfair, unkind behaviors – which lead to reactive and explosive measures.  The problem is, if we focus on the violence, we are looking for solutions in the wrong places.
As a conflict resolution and management expert, I frequently see bad workplace behaviors that have gone unchecked.  And while most individuals don't respond with violence - they do respond.  You see it in the form of employee turnover, increased absenteeism, theft, harassment claims, EEOC complaints, etc.  
Most, if not all, of this is preventable.  It begins with staff having a trusted place to bring their concerns.  It continues when they believe that by bringing their concerns forward, they will get help.  It is complete when there is a firm resolution, by leaders and managers, to bring swift, decisive intervention when problems perpetuate. 

Conflict management readiness is, for this reason, vital to all businesses.  Staff must learn skills in conflict communication.  Human Resources, leaders and managers must have skills for addressing workplace problems in a way that empowers, rather than punishes, staff whenever possible.  And formal conflict resolution, such as mediation, must be engaged at the earliest possible time if other efforts fail to yield the desired results.
If you have questions about how to address these issues, or want to discuss the concerns of your workplace, please contact us for a free consultation.

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