Dawn Marie Westmoreland Celebrates Her One Year Anniversary of Her Syndicated Radio Show “The Empowered Whistleblower”

Archive for the ‘Guest Articles’ Category

Dawn Marie Westmoreland Celebrates Her One Year Anniversary of Her Syndicated Radio Show “The Empowered Whistleblower”

Posted on: August 11th, 2021

This edition of News & Tips to Combat Workplace Violence – the Blog is highlighting Dawn Marie Westmoreland as the Guest Blogger in honor of Dawn’s one year anniversary of her syndicated radio show, “The Empowered Whistleblower”.  Dawn featured yours truly on the “The Empowered Whistleblower” show, to discuss the “WHY”, “WHAT” and “HOW” of workplace violence and workplace violence prevention.

Dawn interviewed me in the Spring following the tragic workplace homicides on April 15, 2021, at FedEx, Indianapolis, Indiana, resulting in the deaths of 8 coworkers and 5 injured totaling 13 victims who were innocently doing their respective jobs. Though this shooting incident was reported by the media and local police as an active shooter, this shooting was classified as a mass shooting.

What’s sad is that by April 2021, there were about 26 victims of workplace shootings. Unfortunately, that’s not all.  As of July 31, 411 mass shootings fitting the Mass Shooting Tracker project criterion, leaving 437 people dead and 1,688 injured, for a total of 2,125 total victims, some including the shooter(s). Though not all workplace related asking the question, why the penchant for violence?

(Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mass_shootings_in_the_United_States_in_2021)

Most businesses do not report workplace violence that does not result in deaths or serious injuries. That’s due to lack of communication, fear of taking action, and of course, lack of awareness. But the numbers are hard to ignore regardless.

Dawn thought the message was appropriate and applicable today in reminding our audience that as employees we all deserve to work in safe and respectful work environments and that proactive measures can be taken to reduce the threat and minimize the risks.

Dawn Marie Westmoreland, who has 30 years’ experience working in HR, is not new to workplace conflict and personnel security threats. So, this edition is ripe in presenting an important opportunity to bring up that while it was Fedex then, it could be any workplace or educational institution that could be victimized in similar fashion tomorrow. No workplace or educational institution is immune from the threat of workplace violence. How prepared are you really? Is the workplace active shooter an organizational prevention response or an unfortunate reaction to an unforeseen event?

OSHA reports that there are about 2 million reported incidents of workplace violence annually. By workplace violence we mean nonviolent acts (verbal abuse, name calling, harassment, bullying, intimidation, and threats) and violent acts (throwing objects with intent to injure, fist fights, sexual assault, lethal force such as armed robbery and active shooter, bomb threats, and terrorist acts).

Dawn’s objective during the radio show, which was also videotaped, was to bring out the value of workplace violence prevention in taking proactive measures that help an organization understand prevention as a philosophy, forging a mindset that understand the approach to take to resolve issues, reduce conflict, deescalate incidents, minimize risk and roll out hasty intervention measures.

We can reduce active shooting incidents and mass shooting fatalities and keep employees safe by taking workplace violence head on…

By assessing their worksites, employers can identify methods for reducing the likelihood of incidents occurring. OSHA believes that a well-written and implemented workplace violence prevention program, combined with engineering controls, administrative controls, and training can reduce the incidence of workplace violence in both the private sector and federal workplaces.

OSHA encourages employers to develop additional methods as necessary to protect employees in high-risk industries.” Source:  https://lnkd.in/d9mWD38

Click the link to see and listen to Dawn Marie Westmoreland interview Felix P. Nater, CSC, Security Management Consultant.   https://lnkd.in/dh4wr2q

Are Your Perceptions of Workplace Violence Accurate? – Guest Blog by Michael Dorn, December 2, 2020

Posted on: December 2nd, 2020

Introduction: In this Guest Blog by Michael Dorn, we introduce the role of workplace violence from the standpoint of the workforce threat. YES, the workforce threat. While media attention focuses on the student “active shooter” the workforce threat make up a significant percentage of the school homicidal violence.  Our common interest centers on the importance of preventing the threat posed by the disgruntled employee. I recommend a comprehensive approach and design to workplace violence prevention that considers the type of workforce, work environment, past incidents, known risk indicators and contributing factors.

Training and proper program management philosophy and strategies are important. Decisions to conduct training should be a collaborative effort engaging the training consultant’s expertise in coordination with realistic content and delivery formats.

Principals and District Management can take reasonable proactive measures in addressing potential at risk teachers and staff by hastily addressing all reports and observations without assuming or applying shortsighted logic. Sometime educational institutions overlook valuable internal data in reviewing current reports against existing internal and external data.

For example, statistical information pertaining to the 277 FBI-designated active shooter incidents that occurred in the United States from 2000 to 2018 offer valuable insight and analysis from where the emphasis or focus can be directed in validating the potential for violence. https://www.fbi.gov/about/partnership/office-of-partner-engagement/active-shooter-incidents-graphics.

Michael Dorn’s contributions below forms the inescapable reality that educational institutions are also workplace environments for teachers, principals, administrative staff and school board members who are no different from any other employee and their environmental, societal and family risk factors.

What’s often taken for granted is the notion that the only perpetrators of school violence are the ‘mentally ill’ students.

But what about the disgruntled principal or teacher and the factors negatively impacting their mental well-being. Just like the student who has access to the school, who scrutinizes the at-risk factors and behaviors of the principal? Whether at a warehouse, manufacturing plant, office building or educational institution the workforce threat is a real and present danger.  Therefore, Workplace Violence Prevention should be an ongoing process involving multiple intervention strategies that includes the entire workforce and students.  It should be devoid of myths, assumptions or special treatment that limits critical assessment and application of threat assessment principles.

On May 6, 1940, the principal of South Pasadena Middle School opened fire at his school district’s office building and killed three victims.  He then drove to his school and murdered two teachers.  This tragedy is one of eleven fatal school attacks carried out by school employees in the United States to date.  In addition to fatal shootings carried out by teachers and school administrators, our nation’s second most deadly attack at a K12 school was carried out by a disgruntled and deeply troubled school board member in 1927.

After most of the 2,000 pounds of explosives detonated blowing up the Bath School, the attacker drove his vehicle to the school and carried out a suicide bombing killing 43 students and employees.

These attacks make up a significant percentage of the active assailant and targeted school attacks at U.S. K12 schools.  And while these attacks occurred many years ago, more recent attacks in the Lee County, Florida Public School System and at the Episcopal School of Jacksonville demonstrate that violent acts committed by school employees is still a concern.

Unfortunately, many K12 school systems and non-public schools have dedicated significant amounts of time, energy and budget on barricading training and devices while neglecting prevention measures for acts of violence that are far more common than an active assailant forcing entry to a locked classroom.

In reality, there has been only one fatal attack at a U.S. K12 school to date where an attacker forced entry to a locked classroom, entered the room and killed victims.  This shooting occurred at a reservation high school in Red Lake, Minnesota.  Having worked that case as an expert witness, I can state with relative certainty that neither barricading nor door blocking devices would have saved any lives in that attack.  While this attack method could certainly be used in future attacks, it has simply not been a common attack method.  In contrast, lethal attacks by school employees do represent a pattern that deserves more attention than it has received.

This is one of many examples of how easy it can be for any type of organization to fail to align prevention and preparedness measures with actual violence risk levels.  This example also demonstrates how important preemployment screening measures, training programs, assessment capabilities and other approaches to prevent acts of workplace violence can be.

Has your organization carefully evaluated how well your violence prevention and preparedness measures align with actual risks?

Thankfully, there are skilled experts with advanced knowledge in this important area that can help organizations develop approaches tailored to fit their unique needs.  I am appreciative that one of these experts has been kind enough to allow me to contribute this guest blog on this important topic.

Felix P. Nater, CSC of Nater Associates, Ltd. is a workplace violence prevention consultant who helps organizations through executive leadership how to develop and manage proper ways to handle threats of workplace violence through an educated, involved, coordinated and vigilant organizational response.

About That Explosion by Guest Blogger Stephanie De Flora – September 7, 2020

Posted on: September 8th, 2020

Welcome Stephanie De Flora. In this edition of ”News & Tips to Combat Workplace Violence – the Blog, Stephanie De Flora lays out plausible rationale for how you and I can manage stress just because, it’s conducive to good health, good relationships and healthy workplace experiences all around.

 

In an interim world where the return to the workplace reflects a variety of emotions and experiences ranging from quarantine at home, loss of family or friends or the impact of social protest. One is never without the exposure to stress in one way, shape or form. Even working from home or remote worksites attaches unique emotions that elevate our stress levels.

 

Managing our stress by managing our attitudes, mood swings and behaviors is easy to say in a world full of volatility and unpredictability. Your job is to understand that the workplace is not the time or place to let it all hang out. We have to protect our employment at all costs.

 

In fact, in a Covid-19 workplace full of rules seemingly designed to get you upset, are really intended to protect you, protect coworkers and stakeholders from emotional outbursts that when left unabated escalate to verbal exchanges and physical confrontations, yes, blame it on the rules. Rules designed to inject organization and structure can have unintended consequences.

 

It doesn’t stop there. The potential for defiant expression and insubordination is all around us today. Not wanting to follow Covid-19 risk mitigation rules and OSHA compliance procedures to name a few.

 

Maybe you don’t want to wear a mask just because you think you have the right not to. Or maybe you don’t want to submit to testing. Or you are angry at others who aren’t under the microscope you think you are under. You feel picked on. Or what if you are told to isolate pending adjudication of your eventual removal from the premises. The stressful moments are apparent to us.

 

All rules we must follow that add to our stress and fuels our anger. But all is not left to the rules and procedures without considering your value as employees, people and family members. You are on Stephanie De Flora’s mind so take a deep breath and enjoy the advice she offers.

 

Find yourself losing your temper more often these days?  Wondering how family and work life can coexist in the time of COVID-19?  Let’s face it, this global pandemic caused the merging of these two aspects of life together in an unexpected and highly stressful way.

Pressure regulation controls exists across industries working to regulate and balance operating systems, to warn of impending risk of destruction. Same as mechanical systems, the human experience of pressure does not come undetected or without warning.

More than simply balance pressure through repeated outbursts, although some do manage stress in this way, we humans have the capacity to work towards allostasis or achieving greater stability through change. We can change our behavior and become healthier for it.  If we have this ability, why doesn’t it always work?

Admitting we feel pressure may be seen as a weakness, an interesting concept given that admitting stress means we’re managing the stress.   Without acknowledging stress, pressure develops gradually, the slow burn leading to the “last straw” that finds you yelling at your co-worker or getting upset with the kids because of a “terrible day”.  Release the pressure or it will literally wear you out – physically, mentally, and emotionally.  And we’re all too aware that outcomes including outbursts of negative emotions, instigating arguments or inflicting violence can be devastating.

So what, you might say, I yell in the car, I have outbursts when things don’t go my way, who cares?  It’s the difference between repeated explosions and controlled pressure management via a pressure valve.  Understanding why pressure is building is key to regulating it.  For us humans more times than not, especially these days, FEAR is a common culprit.  Fear for our health and well-being during Covid-19, fear for our jobs and livelihood, for example.

Extended fear also causes us to lose our perspective.  In the book Factfulness, author Hans Rosling explores The Fear Instinct concluding “Critical thinking is always difficult, but it’s almost impossible when we are scared.  There’s no room for facts when our minds are occupied by fear”.

Fear as a stressor is very real, blinds our perspective and can lead to a host of unpleasant outcomes.  We cannot live our lives in fear nor can we continue to ignore it.  We can find allostatis and actively regulate pressure in our quest to be happy and healthy.

With all this said, I offer up the following thoughts on working with and enhancing your internal pressure relief system.

TRY THIS

  • Just Breathe: Take 2 minutes to notice your breath working to gently stretch the exhale to match or be just slightly longer than the inhale.

Benefit: Lengthening the exhale moves the body from the sympathetic (flight or fight response) to parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system.  Have a watch that monitors heart rate?  Watch what happens to your heart rate over a span of 2 minutes simply by breathing.

 

  • Take a walk: Go for a 10-minute walk, slowly repeating “pick up, move, place” each time you pick a foot up, move it to step forward, backwards or even sideways.

Benefit: By linking slow intentional movement with words or a phrase allows nervous mind-chatter to be redirected from the head to a natural, physical outlet.

 

  • Be Curious: When a physical response such as aggravation or anxiety arises as agitation in the body notice what thoughts have been moving through your mind for the last couple of minutes and in the present moment.  Is the dialog real or playing out what could possibly happen?  During observation simply meet each thought with “That’s interesting” and be genuinely interested in understanding the storyline.

Benefit: Becoming aware of thoughts and the physical response are indicators of situations that are building internal pressure and need a healthy way to release.  (see take a walk above!)

 

  • Learn Control & Predictability: As the Serenity Prayer goes “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” We cannot control everything, nor can we predict all outcomes. But we do have control over how we react and often, we can predict the effect of stressors through awareness.

Benefit:  Working to understand our stressors, to predict how stressful events impact us and working to control not situations but rather our approach to releasing stress develops our resilience to life’s challenges.  Like a hurdler, it takes dedication, commitment to show up and practice to clear the obstacles in front of us over and over again.  Trip and fall you may, but with practice predictability around what to expect builds and reduces stress.

 

The year 2020 is one for the history books but let us choose not to live it in fear.  Use these trying times to become more aware and proactively release the stress!

 

Stephanie De Flora is taking the year 2020 to evolved old processes with new approaches, making humanity the priority.  To learn more about how organizations and individuals are learning how to manage through the effects of stress, email stephanie@processevolved.com 

If You Have to Terminate…. Stay Safe!

Posted on: July 10th, 2020

As I am about to publish my next Guest Blog by Mike Perkins, President of Frontline HR Solutions a 25 year Legal and HR Professional Consulting Practice, I would like to introduce a recent workplace homicide – suicide at a Walmart Distribution Center, Red Bluff, California by Louis Lesley Land a former worker who had been fired in 2019 after failing to show up for work.

On Saturday, June 27, 2020, Louis Lesley had apparently crashed his car into the center shooting his  semiautomatic rifle. Inside, he shot & killed one co-worker, injured 4 others, before being shot and killed by Red Bluff Police in Parking Lot. 

This particular story is a timely one as it relates to terminations and the potential risks, giving interest to this informative Guest Blog by Mike Perkins on the topic of “terminations”.  We both agree that while the process is the official termination of employment, we believe that the word has a negative connotation and the process needs to be considered a potential business-security threat.

I commend the Walmart Leadership and Security Teams for taking the appropriate workplace security and workplace violence prevention violence response risk mitigation measures, to prepare the workplace and protect the workforce against the potential threat posed by an armed intruder.

Here’s Mike Perkin’s information packed Guest Blog.

In this time of furloughs, layoffs, high unemployment, financial tension and uncertainty about the continued viability of many organizations, emotions are fragile and, sometimes, quite volatile.  Many companies are having to make difficult decisions about reducing their workforce for the unpredictable times that lie ahead.  Some companies are deferring employment decisions as long as possible while others are fighting for survival and having to make immediate cuts.  Essential workers who are still actively employed are worried about exposure to illness at work, while commuting on public transit, and during breaks.

Others who have been considered non-essential workers are often sitting at home wondering if they will still have a job, when they can return, and which creditors should be paid over others.  As the tension increases, substance abuse, domestic abuse and suicide rates are rising.

Terminating employees is always fraught with risk.  All these additional factors combine to exponentially increase the stakes. When it becomes necessary to discharge an employee, employers should do everything possible to reduce the tension and the risk for everyone involved.  Even before the Coronavirus-related growth of phone and video conferencing, I have been encouraging employers to consider utilizing alternatives to personal meetings and the use of “Administrative Leave” as practical strategies for risk mitigation.

Last year’s tragic workplace shooting at the Henry Pratt Company in Joliet, Illinois, is a grave reminder of the danger that surrounds the discipline and termination process.  In that situation, an employee who knew he was likely going to be terminated that day, brought a gun to work and shot his plant manager, HR manager, an HR intern (on his first day at work), his union chairman and union steward, a co-worker, and several police first-responders.  The shooting began in an isolated meeting room where the employee was told he was being terminated and continued after he fled from the room and moved throughout the facility.

Sometimes you have no choice but to end the employment relationship.  Sometimes the decision is purely economic and relatively straightforward.  Other times, the decision is more complicated.

Most challenging is when, despite your best efforts to salvage the relationship, one of your employees is just not working out.  She may not be showing up for work on time despite repeated warnings.  Sometimes he may not show up at all and doesn’t call to let you know.  He or she may have taken advantage of the company by falsifying hours while working remotely.  Co-workers and customers are left hanging.  Maybe she continuously ignores safety rules and is endangering herself and others.  Or, maybe he has been engaging in serious misconduct that is detrimental to your organization.  You’re convinced—this employee has to go.

As an employment attorney and HR professional, I have always advised clients “There is no such thing as a routine termination” and “There is no such thing as an emergency termination.”  Does that sound confusing and, possibly, inconsistent?  Let me explain.

“There are no routine terminations.” Terminating a person’s employment can be nerve-wracking and, sometimes, dangerous.  The first few times a manager or an HR professional communicates a termination decision can be especially unsettling and they may spend hours fretting over the decision and planning their approach. But, after a while, managers who have handled several terminations sometimes have the tendency to treat them routinely and may spend very little time reviewing the background and contemplating the best approach to take with an employee.

They become “cut and dried” decisions and the termination message is often handled with clinical detachment.  The process becomes routine.

Conversely, losing a job is never routine for an employee.  Everything is thrown into turmoil—housing, transportation, utilities, healthcare, financial stability, and relationships at work and at home.  Often, a person’s most significant feeling of self-worth comes from his or her position at work.  Sometimes, their work is their entire world. Even when a struggling employee has been coached, disciplined and given warnings, the employee may not accept that he or she has failed at the job.  For many, being terminated is earth-shattering.  Some rebound, recover and move on.  Some do not.

Some turn to alcohol or drugs. Some lash out on social media.  Some turn to violence. Truly, there are no routine terminations.  Every termination should be treated as a significant event with extensive review of the background circumstances and documentation, an analysis of the legal and security risks, and consideration and planning for the safety and well-being of those delivering the message and those on the receiving end.

“There are no emergency terminations.”  The risk of an employment lawsuit arising from a termination is higher than all other types of employment-related actions combined.  Over the last twenty-five years, I have counseled with clients and managers concerning hundreds of terminations.

Despite “Let’s do it now” pressures from irate managers, I cannot think of one situation where it was absolutely necessary to discharge the employee immediately.

But wait.  If the employee is engaged in significant misconduct or posing safety risks, shouldn’t he or she be removed quickly?  Yes, but it does not mean the employee needs to be terminated quickly.  Hasty, spur-of- the-moment terminations often lead to questionable decisions, sloppy execution and elevated emotions.  Even economic terminations should be carefully planned.

Administrative Leave.  For the last several years, I have advocated the use of “Administrative Leave pending review” in lieu of a rushed termination.  Placing an employee on Administrative Leave accomplishes several things:

  1. Removes the employee from the workplace and from official interaction with co-employees and customers;
  2. Allows a “cooling off” period for emotions (employee, managers, co-workers);
  3. Allows time for gathering facts, documentation and witness information;
  4. Reduces the “intimidation factor” for witnesses when the subject employee is absent from the workplace;
  5. Lets the employee know the company is carefully reviewing his/her employment status or incidents affecting that status;
  6. Allows time to obtain the employee’s response to the alleged conduct;
  7. Allows time for HR and/or legal review; and
  8. Allows time to review safety concerns and put appropriate security measures into effect.

There is also a psychological influence.  Removing the employee from the workplace tends to create a calming effect for all involved. It gives everyone a chance to breathe.  I have found that employees generally respond calmly to being placed on Administrative Leave; especially when the leave is communicated as an opportunity for the company to carefully review employment status and any information pertaining to specific incidents that may have occurred.

Employees like to be told that they will have an opportunity to tell their side of the story.  They expect, and should receive, a thorough and fair review of the circumstances before a termination decision is made.

To Pay or Not to Pay?  Administrative Leave may be paid or unpaid.  Some factors in that decision may include: applicable state and local law, past practice, company policies, company economics, terms of a collective bargaining agreement or employment contract, perceived volatility of the employee, nature of the offense, whether the employee is exempt or non-exempt, length of employment, legal risk, security considerations and the likelihood that the employee will actually be terminated.

In most cases, I recommend that the employee be paid while on administrative leave.

It helps take the immediate financial pressure off the employee and conveys a sense of fairness– that the company has not reached a final decision without doing its due diligence.  Sometimes, anticipating the inevitable, employees use this time for job hunting.  If the employee has another job lined up, the stakes are reduced for all involved.

Advising an employee that he or she is being placed on Administrative Leave can be done in person while the employee is at work or by telephone before or after work.  If the employee works remotely, it can be done by phone or video conference during work hours.  As usual, a witness should be present or conferenced in and announced as being present on the call or video conference.

The employee should be advised that he or she is being placed on “Administrative Leave Pending Investigation” or “Administrative Leave Pending Review of Circumstances” pertaining to employment.

The employee should be instructed not to return to the workplace until notified otherwise and avoid communicating with other employees about the issues being reviewed.  The employee should be advised whether the leave is “with pay” or “without pay” and that someone will contact the employee very soon to hear his or her side of the story.  The employee should be advised and steps should be taken to temporarily suspend access to company computers, systems, email, memory storage and facilities.

Be sure to follow through with the commitment to contact and interview the employee and witnesses identified by the employee before making a final employment decision.

Communicating the Decision.  At the conclusion of the investigation and review, the employee should be notified of the final decision and given instructions for returning to work or for ending employment.  If the decision is made to return the employee to work, the employee should be advised of this by telephone or email and then invited back to discuss (with a witness present) expectations for the future,  and conditions for continuing employment. This discussion can also be held by phone or video conference.

If in person, appropriate security measures should be followed for the employee’s return to the facility and for the return-to-work-meeting.

During this meeting, it is important to warn the employee to avoid any type of actual or perceived retaliation against other employees who may have been involved in the issue and investigation.

If the final decision is to terminate the employee, I advocate communicating the decision by telephone or video conference.  The Joliet shooting is reason enough to consider this option.  The employee is aware of the strong potential for termination and, absent special circumstances, it is not necessary to increase the security risk by inviting the employee back to the facility to be told he or she is being fired.

When there is a union contract that requires personal meetings, union officials may be willing to waive the personal appearance and allow all interviews, hearings and discussions to be conducted by phone or video conference.  If your collective bargaining agreement does not allow for this, consider proposing telephone or video conferencing as an option when you negotiate your renewal contract.

If the decision is made to ask the employee to return to the facility for a termination meeting, situationally-appropriate security steps should be taken.

As with the initial Administrative Leave communication, I have found that employees are generally more accepting of a termination decision when it follows Administrative Leave review.  My clients and I have not experienced any negative repercussions from communicating the final decision by phone.  A witness should be present and introduced so the employee will know there are others listening to the call or participating in a video conference.  I recommend being very careful with the words used to communicate the message.

Avoid using words like “terminating” or “fired.”  They are volatile on their face and have the potential to inflame emotions.

Instead, consider using words like “we are ending your employment,” “we will be proceeding with separation of employment” or “the circumstances leave us no choice but to discontinue your employment.”  Of course, all the normal termination, final pay and benefits continuation information should also be communicated during this conference.

If your company follows a neutral reference policy, it is usually advisable to remind the employee of that policy.  Terminated employees are often concerned with “what are they going to tell people about me?”

Where appropriate, be sure to include a clear instruction that the employee is not authorized to return to any of the company’s facilities.  Arrangements should be made for exchange of employee property and company property via courier or other means. When available, remind the employee of the organization’s employee assistance program resources and any appropriate outplacement assistance.

If the employee has engaged in serious misconduct such as harassment, theft, or acts/threats of violence, it is recommended that you consult with legal counsel for advice about outplacement assistance and your response to reference requests.

There is a fine line between your confidentiality responsibilities to the former employee and your duty to others to avoid promulgating a known risk.

The somber story of the Joliet tragedy should prompt HR and operational leaders to thoroughly evaluate their approach to employee discipline and discharge.  While the use of Administrative Leave is an effective strategy for reducing the risk surrounding employee discipline, it does not eliminate all risk.

Employers should always exercise due diligence and implement adequate security measures to protect themselves and their employees throughout the disciplinary and post-disciplinary process.

 

Time To Get Ducks In Row On Internal/External Communications

Posted on: June 5th, 2020

In this Guest Blog Post of News & Tips to Combat Workplace Violence, Mr. Rich Klein, President of Crisis Management with over 25 years of advising companies, law firms and organizations about crisis management and crisis communications shares some perspectives about Covid-19 Return to Work issues.

My intro: I am almost certain you will relate to the points of view Mr. Klein offers simply because many of us operate from the perspective that “It won’t happen to us” so why plan.

Failure to plan for a crisis before, during and after will catch many company leaders off guard in a crisis. You want to know why? Because businesses did not make crisis management planning part of their overall business planning. It’s much like what I have been saying about workplace violence prevention. If you don’t have a prevention plan today, you will have a crisis management issue tomorrow.

So whether your business or organization is a small, midsize or large size Employer without a crisis management mindset, you will find that prevention and preparedness will find you woefully unprepared on the day of the crisis.

The pandemic crisis we find ourselves in is being called a “new normal” of which I will call an “interim phase” and your failure to anticipate the need for a crisis management plan is probably making you feel exposed, vulnerable and unprepared.

Take Rich Klein’s perspectives to heart and then click on this link  https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140613154848-6790863-5-reasons-leaders-fail-at-crisis-management to drive his point home.

Reopening your business or organization during a painful pandemic calls for the most effective messaging to all your stakeholders.

There will be new laws/regulations, new employee protocols, increased liability risks – and hopefully a different approach to branding and marketing.

Many businesses are facing backlash from earlier layoffs with more job cuts that may be unavoidable in coming weeks. Maybe you didn’t handle the communication of prior layoffs well – and that has decreased morale among existing employees. And, I’ve already heard from some businesses with executives and staff who tested positive for coronavirus and are nervous about customers/clients finding out.

Or worse, management is lying about it in public statements to customers, the press and on social media.

Other businesses, particularly in manufacturing and hospitality, have been accused of not providing personal protective equipment at a facility that required it and now are being harshly criticized by their own employee whistleblowers.

Finally, some big companies and institutions took SBA loans that didn’t need them at the expense of starving smaller businesses and are currently on the receiving end of much negative press that will harm reputation and more.

As you can see, there are many issues that you will need to communicate effectively about right now and in the near future.

I recently started offering very affordable, confidential consultations via Zoom/Skype/Google Hangouts, phone or any format that works for you.

We will talk about internal /external communications specific to your company and industry, corporate social responsibility messaging and how to respond to the media and on social media regarding coronavirus and other crisis situations.

Please get in touch by emailing rich@richkleincrisis.com and stay safe.

Cyber-Culture: An Organization Imperative

Posted on: April 7th, 2020

This Guest Blogger edition of the News & Tips to Combat Workplace Violence featuring Dr. Ken Ferguson will focus on the Cyber Security Threat from a Cyber Intrusion Management perspective. The purpose of my Blogs is to introduce correlations between gaps and vulnerabilities in workplace security and the potential threats posed by the disgruntled current worker or former worker whose intent is to get revenge without crossing the line of physical violence. Usually, workplace culture has some role in creating the vulnerability or gap that permits the disgruntled current or former employee and criminal intruder access to sensitive information and systems. While Ken’s initiative is aimed at more than malicious intent, he is certainly concerned with a conversion of the workforce from an intrusion threat to an effective barrier for successful intrusion.

Ken Ferguson and I will agree that no amount of technology, policies or procedures can prevent the malicious intruders from gaining access to sensitive systems and information. A process is mandatory. So, while technology is an important part of information and data protection, “Over-reliance on security technology can actually put an organization at risk because a large percentage of information security breaches are actually the result of faulty human behaviors, rather than hardware or software vulnerabilities” Robert Guba, (Engineering human security), 2008.

So what can organizations do to minimize the Cyber Security threat? Ken Ferguson is going to layout a perspective focused on culture and the human factor in aggressively protecting data and information from unwitting compromise by human errors of omission in creating a process that minimize gaps and reduce vulnerabilities and/or compromises. Sometimes the organization by its very desire to protect sensitive information and systems create voluminous procedures employees do not read and/or are not properly trained. The assumption is that the policy and the procedures are the solution.

In the following overview Ken Ferguson will share his experiences and expertise in articulating how an improved attention to a structured attention and management of cyber intrusion is the next major step in protecting organizations from the intentional threat and the unwitting human error.

“Currently, “people” can be characterized as a potential source of intrusion problem rather than a successful defense element. Successful phishing by hackers for example is one of the more common success channels for cyber intrusion.”

Improved cyber security is the next organization wide advancement needed by many business sectors of society as well as public sector agencies. This attention is comparable to other defining compelling attributes such as safety, reliability, quality, economics, and environmental management. As we know, Cyber-attacks are malicious threats by highly motivated individuals or organizations intent on disruption or criminal actions. The attack mode can be commonplace or extremely sophisticated.

Unlike many problems solvable by coordinated actions, cyber attackers will reconvene and develop new challenges. The implication of this ever present type of threat is that organizations need a constant vigilance against such cyber-attacks….never abandoning cyber attention just because.

The conclusion of Global Nuclear Associates (GNA) is that this vigilance is a “Technology and More” situation needing to involve an organization’s entire workforce trained, motivated, and accountable to be involved in cyber security attention.

This value added end state becomes a defining culture. The integrated attention leading to this end state is summarized as a Functional Cyber Culture (FCC). Cyber intrusion can be a threat to safety, business continuity, and other existential impacts. Transformation into an FCC outcome is described as follows:

Key Attentions of a Cyber-Culture transition. Systematic activity and inclusion of cyber security as an overarching attention and culture of an organization involves attention to a variety of involvements and attributes each of which needs to be addressed rigorously. The following are familiar considerations needing unique attention in cyber space:

PEOPLE. Cyber-Culture involves a new attention by the entire workforce and also assurance that its supply chain shares such a vital attention to cyber security matters. The new involvements and commitments will vary depending on organizational function and individual responsibilities and job descriptions, which may be changed in accordance with cyber attentions and responsibilities. Effective accommodation of a new culture attention involves the persuasion and involvement of individuals to add to and/or change daily work attentions. Any change is difficult for most individuals…transformation into a new culture can be especially difficult since the change is a “quantum leap” in nature involving motivated accountability coupled with the proper skillsets.

Currently, “people” can be characterized as a potential source of intrusion problem rather than a successful defense element. Successful phishing by hackers for example is one of the more common success channels for cyber intrusion.

TECHNOLOGY. Cyber threats are also a matter of technological warfare calling for a defense that also is technological in nature. Related attentions can include vulnerability assessments for a threat spectrum regarding key assets, monitoring of threats, intrusion diagnostics, as well as information management and sharing determinations and technologies.

Organizations need to have the internal capability or vendor arrangements to assure timely and accurate detection of cyber intrusions attempts which can be as frequent as daily. Proper staffing and training that enables timely and accurate analysis and responsive measures needs to be a defining characteristic of critical asset cyber protection.

WORK MANAGEMENT. The leveraging of responsive technologies and an effectively trained and motivated work force achieves successful results only if deployed in comprehensive work management details. This element of cyber attention success is the ultimate manner in which workforce attention is accomplished. Each work process needs to be comprehensive in itself and the collective set of work processes needs to be responding to a spectrum of cyber implications. Work management that procedurally invokes cyber security attentions, content, and related communications will result in doing business that incorporates this concern into an “everyday” attention of the workforce.

Work management and its associated work process need to have the ownership of implementers, clear, concise, comprehensive and commonly understood. Implications involve, for example, job responsibilities that include, planning, and daily operations. decision making, administrative support. Example: a design decision that traditionally included cost, reliability, and safety now needs to be assessed for cyber security implications.

Success in Instilling a Cyber Culture: Attention to Detail. As with most major organizational endeavors, recognition of all that is needed to be done is a first step requirement:

Cyber Infrastructure Implications. The successful approach to an effective cyber-culture involves a confirmation and/or enhancement of features already existent in an organization. These are attributes and functions necessary for carrying forward the three major attentions mentioned above. We refer to these relevant functions as cyber infrastructure. The evaluations involve (1) general effectiveness of each of these ongoing practices and (2) the extent to which these practices properly reflect cyber content.

Some examples of what constitute this infrastructure include:
– Training                                                                                  – Information Sharing
– Policies                                                                                    – Organization Structure, Hiring Practices
– Procedures                                                                             – Enterprise Asset Management
– Communications                                                                  – Procurement
– IT, Risk and Vulnerability Tools                                       – Quality Assurance
– Regulatory Interfacing                                                        – Program Management

Phasing for Success. As with many transition/enhancement actions, a phased approach is proper. Three basic phases will involve: (1) a gap analysis/current condition assessment, resulting in recommendations supportive of people, technology, and work management elements and infrastructure reviews results and then (2) an implementation phase involving prioritized inclusion of phase (1) recommendations.

For cyber culture considerations, a phase three attention is uniquely vital for success. This attention involves assessing and committing to and assuring long term effectiveness of a successful cyber culture. Examples of vigilance of this particular long term vigilance include (1) cognizance of emerging new threats (2) relevant emerging defensive technologies, and (3) awareness of relevant emerging regulations and industry standards.

Teaming for Success. Based on the above systematic approach and proper attention to detail, the following collaboration of skill sets /specialties are needed for effective cyber culture-transformation:

(a) Cognizance of the current organization’s relevant functions and effective cyber treatment
(b) Cyber security assessment tasks and technology
(c) Organization transitioning
(d) Infrastructure specialists
(e) Program management and Integration

Conclusions/Summary. Cyber intrusion is a permanent threat to a wide range of organizations. The challenge is unique but effective approaches can be planned and executed involving a range of attentions. A “Technology and More” approach is needed for effective defense of critical assets. Success is contingent on persistent commitment for the entire workforce, achieved by embedding a cyber culture and assuring its long term sustainability.

Ken Ferguson (ferg2@att.net) is available to discuss in more detail the challenges and successful attention to functional cyber culture readiness of an organization.

 

 

 

Lockdown Drills & Kids: Teaching Lifesaving Skills to Children of All Abilities…

Posted on: April 19th, 2019

As a workplace security consultant specializing in workplace violence prevention, what I do with the Client must create sustainability long after I am gone. Organizational resources must be considered when developing training content. The need to be as realistic must not outweigh the organization’s capabilities to sustain the effort.

School and workplace violence response strategies and tactics are important but at what expense? Should the “training approach” to active shooter be one designed around the means justifies the end or around creating the best retentive value around the execution of thoughtful programming that encourages and promotes quality training objectives?

Should those involved be traumatizing students, staff and workers for the purpose of making training as realistic as possible? According to the research the facts are not clear. In the 25 plus years I have been exposed to workplace violence and workplace violence prevention, it’s been my intentional desire to create training that stimulated learning and motivated retention of the content based on mutually collaborative experiences. The idea is to design training with organizational effectiveness in mind.

A recent “active shooter” drill in Indiana made my skin crawl. As someone who came from a military and law enforcement background, I was horrified to discover that local law enforcement officers told teachers to kneel along a wall while they were shot execution style with plastic bullets trying to demonstrate reality.

This is exactly what happens when corporate leaders and school superintendents fail to involve themselves in the decision-making process while leaving it up to others to decide what’s good for your school or workplace environments. Any role I may play as a security consultant must be predicated on organizational input and desired outcomes.

For example, how may reading this blog have been instructed on management responsibilities, prolonged lockdown issues, special needs and family support preparation considerations and planning related to an active shooter? Probably a few, maybe! You know why? Simply because there is a lack of experience based and knowledge centered training and consulting taking place today more than ever without specific facts.

In my interest to give the active shooter training challenge credibility and perspective, I am always seeking to find professionals with a unique and  thoughtful education and learning methodology that serves to create understanding and responsible actions.

In some instances schools are already described as prison comps by students, teachers and parents as environments that expose students to other risks, say parents who speak under anonymity. I don’t say eliminate the training but rather suggest that such training be thoughtful and deliberate.

This issue of my blog highlights the efforts of Guest Blogger Rachel Tepfer Copeland and her child’s experience during a preschool lock down exercise. You must know that my blogs often attracts direct phone calls from interested readers and concerned victims, witnesses and observers who have value to add, offer support and their services.

Rachel Tepher Copeland a Certified Child Life Specialist struck me as the type of guest blog contributor I desire to collaborate with because of the value and lessons that can be learned from such experiences, if we are to be a part of the solution in supporting the need for quality active shooter and lock down training moving forward.

Such training should not exploit the school or the workplace’s fears. It’s my opinion that active shooter drills marginally, if at all improve safety of teachers, students and workers, while exposing them to mental trauma and physical injury. The decision to bring in local police trainers or to hire the expert consultant should be predicated on past performance, knowledge of content, delivery capability and desired outcomes. There are states like Iowa, Florida and South Carolina and others interested in passing laws requiring these drills in public schools. I agree with the training need but disagree with the mandate for a variety of reasons implied and addressed in this blog.

Here’s Rachel Tepher Copeland and her preshooler’s experience for your information.

Rachel:

One afternoon I went to pick up my son from preschool and he was very obviously shaken and upset. A generally chatty guy, I was concerned when he had a difficult time telling me what had happened.

The most I could gather was that the class had played a strange game where the children had hidden in the dark behind backpacks. Then it dawned on me, it was a lock-down drill. The more questions I asked my son, the more concerned I became. We quickly turned the car around and headed back to speak with the preschool director of the highly vetted private preschool he attended.

After further conversation, I found that my son had become scared, overwhelmed and upset during the drill because he did not know or understand what was happening. He did not feel comfortable hiding with the class in the tight quarters and became upset. In an effort to make him more comfortable, the teachers removed him from the bathroom and placed him, alone, in the darkened classroom.

He was told to hide behind a backpack located right next to the large window and to stay there until someone came back for him. Then the teachers went back inside the bathroom with the other children and locked the door. I was furious. I was heartbroken. But more than anything, I was scared.

As a Certified Child Life Specialist since 2004, my job has always been to talk to children about scary and overwhelming situations and make them easier to understand. Reading books to children is an amazing way to take something terrifying and make it relatable, especially for the very young. Social stories are one of my favorite means of preparing children for difficult situations. I love social stories because they are perfect for children of any ability, as they are a positive, empowering story written in first person language, which encourages and empowers children to learn new difficult skills.

After my son’s horrific experience, I searched everywhere for a book with easy to understand directions that would be appropriate for my son to learn about lock-downs and how to keep himself safe. However, no matter where I looked, I could only find books for much older children.

There was nothing age appropriate or all-encompassing in a social story format. Additionally, all of the resources I found discussed option-based teaching (i.e. run, hide, fight).

While these are sometimes successful options for adults, options-based teaching is neither developmentally appropriate nor feasible for young children or children with special needs.

After searching the market and finding it bare, I decided to write my own book for my son. Originally, I created a single copy of the book I Can Be A Superhero During A Lockdown just for him, however, after another major school shooting occurred only miles from our home, I decided to self-publish it and make it available to anyone who might also find it helpful.

I Can Be A Superhero During A Lockdown is now an Amazon best seller and has been endorsed by several safety organizations, including Safe and Sound Schools and Safe Havens Interventional.

I am proud to have created a resource that helps to decrease anxiety while also teaching children of all developmental abilities how to remain safe. My website, RachelTepferCopeland.com , also provides tips and information for parents and educators about lockdowns.

My son is very proud of the book we have created- in fact the main character is a cartoon replica of him. He no longer has issues during lockdowns and was able to complete a drill successfully without any problems.

Many children, however, are not as lucky. While necessary, lockdown drills themselves cause trauma to young children—the recent viral picture of a child with a goodbye note written on her arm to her parents only one example.

As educators, parents, safety professionals, and professionals that work with children, we need to remember that providing age appropriate and child-friendly information to children about what to expect and how to respond is respectful of children, their feelings and needs.

To ignore the situation, to assume that it is just like other drills that children complete regularly or to compare it to duck and cover drills of more seasoned parents’ youth is not the same.

A recent Washington Post report revealed that during the 2017-2018 school year alone, over 4.1 million children enduring a lock-down drill. Over 220,000 of those children were in pre-school and kindergarten. We have the choice of either preparing our children in advance or dealing with the after affects of the trauma they suffer.

I’ve chosen to preemptively prepare my child and to teach him what to do if he was to ever face a true active situation. We all have a choice to make. We can either sit around and read about the horrific things that are happening in our company and wonder “when are things going to change? When is somebody going to do something about that?!”

Or we can each realize that we ARE somebody. Teaching young children how to keep themselves safe while decreasing anxiety is something that you can do right now. And there’s no day better than the present to make a difference, and maybe even save some lives.

Felix:

It’s my opinion as a workplace security management consultant specializing in workplace violence prevention that students and employees should not be exposed to physical or traumatic injury just to create a training reality. Such training should be tied to the organizational prevention strategy that takes all of the related issues into consideration as life survival immediate protective measures.

They should be designed to educate and prepare those involved to respond appropriately in a way that empowers them to react with a measured sense of command and control of their situation. A dad of a middle schooler told me that his son told him that it made no sense to run back to his classroom when it made more sense to exit through the nearby doors.

 

Employee Advocacy: Building a Better Workplace

Posted on: December 28th, 2018

Human capital is the lifeblood of any company. Yet, employee turnover and disengagement rank uppermost in business continuity. The organizational trend towards big data management has, unfortunately, left quite a gap in resources given to talent management. Naturally we need a blend of both strategies for company health.

Employee advocacy needs to be more than generic performance reports, a monologue-filled town hall meeting, and the occasional raise in salary. The employee population is an organizational machine that actualizes the bottom line and sets the reputation of the company. Employees make or break a company.

To date, senior management has paid attention to employee engagement as a means to reduce company costs. The bottom line will always be the most telling benchmark of company performance, and it is no secret that employee turnover packs a punch. The majority of Leadership considers recruitment costs and new employee onboarding costs when working with Human Resources on human capital management issues. However, there are numerous absence costs resulting in process and productivity disruption, as well as very serious exit costs that may come about with involuntary termination.

According to a 2012 Center for American Progress study by Heather Boushey and Sarah Jane Glynn, the quantified business costs of employee turnover is revealing:

  • It costs at least 16% of the annual salary for high-turnover in jobs earning under $30,000 a year.
  • It costs at least 20% of the annual salary for high-turnover in jobs earning under $50,000 a year.
  • Very highly paid jobs and those at the senior or executive levels tend to have disproportionately high-turnover costs, up to 213%.

These above cited costs do not take absence costs, exit costs, and company reputation management costs into consideration.

As we have discussed on numerous occasions with our partners at Nater Associates Ltd., workplace violence issues tend to stem from simple, overlooked cases of employee disengagement that then avalanched into full blown issues. Many of these cases would have been handled effectively with an effective and timely employee advocacy program in place.

A majority of HR programs do not take sentiment factors into consideration, and so miss problems such as discrimination and harassment until it’s too late and a workplace incident such as violence or lawsuit has occurred. Human Resources tend to react punitively to signs of non-performance without tools to discern whether an employee may be facing hidden workplace factors.

As the workplace becomes more agile and complex, CSUITE has begun to explore means to better understand and develop enterprise-wide employee engagement.

An HBR Analytics Services study found an interesting trend: senior managers were pro employee engagement as a catalyst for innovation and company growth, while middle managers saw employee engagement as a means to cut costs.

This is an encouraging trend where CSUITE leadership is fast becoming a proponent of employee advocacy for company growth and innovation. Company growth only happens when employees feel that they can voice concerns as well as ideas in a safe environment.

Vezta & Co. strongly proposes having employee engagement as a required metric to be added to Board of Directors risk management oversight duties to ensure strong governance.

While it is not appropriate to ask the Board to execute employee advocacy, the Board of Directors of any company has the responsibility to set strategic direction along with senior management. Employee engagement is frequently severely overlooked as solely a middle management HR issue that is somehow separate from organizational governance. This gap needs to be fully addressed. We recommend that all Board of Directors risk management responsibilities include effective employee advocacy and engagement that must also detail quantifiable and qualified risk tolerance thresholds to be assessed and monitored at specific intervals.

Cameron Keng of Forbes Magazine reports that the average raise a loyal employee may expect over a 2 year period is 3%, whereas the average negotiated salary increase for the same employee who goes to the competition is anywhere from 10% to 20%. This fact already puts a spoke in the wheel of employee advocacy and retention.

We encourage companies to hire employees with the highest skills set and most positive attitude. Yet, once this talent is on the ‘inside’ we tend to silo their talents and expect our employees to follow procedure without input and many times, without a voice.

In today’s competitive corporate landscape employee advocacy must be fully put to practice to ensure business continuity through human capital development, and employee engagement must be included as a quantifiable metric of company bottom line performance to build a better workplace.

Security Management: How Do You Hire the Right Person?

Posted on: November 8th, 2017

Intro Felix P. Nater, CSC.  Hiring the right people for security work can be a real challenge.  In this edition we are featuring Mack Arrington, PCC of Pathways Career Testing (www.PathwaysCareerTesting.com) to walk us through a critically important part of every employer’s comprehensive workplace violence prevention program – the hiring process. Mr. Mack Arrington is certified in using a variety of assessments for recruiting and employee development and as such is intimately familiar with workplace issues but in particular personnel screening.

The hiring process is NOT an opportunity  to fill a position with a “warm body” but an individual whom the employment process can invest in as a productive member of the team and not a potential security threat tomorrow.  As many of you have heard me say over the years, the prevention of workplace violence involves multiple intervention strategies. In this Blog we will address the value of the hiring and retention as two (2) proactive intervention strategies in hiring the right person and possibly identifying potential at risk personnel.   Therefore, employers who conduct background checks and behavior based interviewing do so before making a job offer should also consider an assessment capability that helps identify problems along way that adversely may impact retention decisions later.

Check with your labor law attorneys in your state to be certain you are in compliance. Employment screening and assessment should be supported by a policy that articulates conducting background checks on all employees and not selectively because you get a gut feeling.

Mack Arrington, PCC shares his thoughts.

Have you noticed how expensive it is to hire the wrong person—especially with the standards and liabilities expected of security personnel? The recommended solution has three parts, but first, a word about the reality we face:

Did you know that over 70% of college students admitted they would lie on a resumé to get a job—and as many as 80% of job seekers already lie on a resumé? (1)

It is estimated that resumé fraud costs employers approximately $600 billion annually—talk about risk management! (1)

Did you know that, alone, the interview is only 14% effective in hiring the right person for the right job? (2)

Background checks can miss critical data and return incorrect information. Inaccuracies have sparked multi-million dollar class action settlements. (3, 4, 5)

And when it comes to “misstating the truth” in order to get a job, we could say that some folks have high integrity to low standards. Here is some truth you might have seen:

  • Resume writers can write great fiction
  • Past experience does not reliably predict future success in a different culture or environment
  • Job candidates don’t provide bad references on themselves
  • A business can get sued for giving a bad reference for a former employee
  • Background checks might not find everything
  • The interview is a fantasy world of happy faces; reality sets in after the hire
  • The hiring process is subjective and biased
  • Businesses hire for competency and fire for behavior

It Can Get Worse

Have you ever worked for a company, and wondered why they hired a certain person? It reminds me of the show where the undercover CEO pretends to be a new employee and tries different jobs in the company. It’s amazing how fast the trainer can tell if the “new employee” cannot do the job. You can almost see the questions that cross their minds:

“Where did they find this guy, and can they return him for a refund?”

“What was leadership thinking when they hired her?”

“How long is our team going to have to cover for this person?”

“Who’s going to do damage control with our customers?”

“Is this going to be a law suit or what?

“He’s already had three doughnuts, when is he going to work?”

From a leadership position, it can get worse—especially if you recommended or approved a bad hire. It’s like the saying, “That dog won’t hunt,” —and it’s your dog. I’ve seen it take months to document poor performance before a company would terminate an employee. Meanwhile, employee morale and productivity, and customer relations can suffer.

A Recommended Solution for Hiring

The best solution for hiring that I’ve seen combines three main parts. First, the documentation includes resumé, references and background check. Second, the interview provides a sense of how the person can show up, communicate and fit with the company. The third part, if done well, can provide the most insight into hiring the right person for the right job: assessments, also called personality testing.

I prefer to use what’s been called a whole person assessment to indicate a person’s success factors, motivators and behavioral style. I have used this kind of assessment to accurately predict high-risk hires, identify areas of concern and generate respectful interview questions that normally would not be asked. I have also used this type of assessment for employee training and development after the hire. Let me explain why this is important.

Have you ever considered the success factors that go with every job—much less the ability to test for those factors? Most employers want employees who have high scores in:

  • Decision-Making – they use common sense
  • Personal Accountability – they accept responsibility for their actions, both the good and the bad
  • Self-Management – they manage themselves so you don’t have to do so
  • Self-Control – they manage their emotions, both internally and externally
  • Resiliency – they keep going when the going gets tough
  • Results Orientation – they get the job done and done right

Of course, you have other specific success factors for specific jobs. In the security industry, a given job might require high scores in Conflict Management, Diplomacy and Tact, Problem-Solving and Life Judgment. Once you know the requirements, we can test for those requirements.

Motivators are a “make it or break it” key for hiring and retention. Every person you hire represents an investment of time and money, of training, of investment in the future of your company, and in your good name. In our assessments, if you can’t satisfy your employees’ top two motivators, those employees are likely to leave and take your investment with them—often to your competitors.

For example, I know of one employer who wanted to offer a “weekend getaway” to employees for improving performance. I pointed out that not all employees would be motivated by this. The employer then offered three choices: the weekend getaway, a big screen television, or a cash reward. It was amazing that about one-third of the employees chose each option depending on their motivators.

The behavioral style is the most observable part—if you have time to get to know someone. Is it smart to put an analytical introvert in a fast-paced, crowded environment? No. Is it smart to put a competitive, decisive, short-tempered extrovert in a situation that requires a steady, methodical sensitivity? No. Can these folks adapt outside their usual style? Maybe. The assessments can provide a quality process to plugging the right person into the right environment.

And yes, we can “reverse engineer” the process. Most of the time, we start with an assessment for the individual. But for mission-critical jobs, we can start by first identifying which success factors, motivators and behavioral style is required for a given job, and then test for the applicants who meet those requirements. This is usually the most accurate way to hire, and the most expensive to develop.

I hope this has been helpful. We understand that hiring the wrong person can be very expensive in many ways. Nobody can guarantee a 100% success rate in hiring, and then retaining the ones you’ve trained and want to keep is another challenge altogether. A combination of documentation, interviewing, and testing for success factors greatly improves the odds of getting it right. There are exceptions, and there are shortcuts, but is it worth the risk?

Don’t wait until tomorrow to confirm your concerns. Call Mack Arrington the Behavioral Assessment Coach NOW for a Complimentary Consultation! – 1-336-856-1600

***

Human Resources Has a Huge Role to Fulfill in Preventing Workplace Violence… and They Hold the Solutions!

Posted on: May 9th, 2017

In this edition of the Nater Associates, Ltd. Blog we introduce the value of our RAP (Robust Agile Proactive) Concept from the perspective of the Human Resource Professional in illustrating the value of Integrating, Collaborating and Coordinating (3CL) the workplace violence prevention effort through effective Leadership. Claire Knowles brings a plethora of experiences and specific expertise. We hope you enjoy the collaborative effort because we firmly believe management commitment and investment is essential in communicating the leadership role.

It has often been said that Bullying happens because it can! This begs the question, Why is it not being stopped? It has been said that it is insidious – like a cancer that grows within an organization. So, why is it allowed to continue? Why is it not being addressed?

  • by Supervisors/Managers in charge of people and teams.
  • by Bystanders who see it happening.
  • by those people who are targeted.
  • by Human Resource Managers and Organizational Leaders.

I recently spoke at The Workplace Violence Prevention Institute in Willingboro, NJ to address this bad behavioral topic. Human resources cannot acquiesce their essential role to stop the deliberate hurt that its taking an emotional and physical toll in our workplaces. After all, isn’t HR supposed to be advancing the human side of the enterprise? HR has the ability to enable and equip every person in the workplace (at all levels) with the tools and training to stop the bad behaviors that lead to violence. It is time to unlock that tool box!

My career was spent in Human Resources and Labor Relations – 34 years in large manufacturing sites for Du Pont (untangling People problems), and for the last 15 years I have been consulting in small and large companies as well as not-for-profit groups particularly around safety, effectiveness and employee engagement. what I know is this: unchecked back behaviors in our organizations and workplaces have spawned an epidemic of deepening dysfunction and Workplace Violence. Indeed, we have an epidemic of bad behaviors happening – yet it doesn’t have to be that way. Employees should not have to dread going to work because of hostile behaviors happening in the workplace. employers should not have to suffer loss in the business sense – yet effectiveness/productivity plummets with increasing dysfunction.

I’ve written this article to underscore that Human Resource managers cannot wash their hands of the responsibilities. Neither can other organizational Leaders. It is essential to ensure that workplaces do not become hostile environments. It is my sense that HR has many tools and remedies that they can use to thwart this slippery slope, if they choose to step up. If behaviors have already dipped to the cellar, HR still has the ability to re-set the standards and move forward with higher expectations, delivered via effective training and development processes. (Check out the Workplace Violence Prevention Institute’s endeavors to stop Workplace Violence.)

Bad behavior in the Workplace doesn’t start with bullying. Rather, the erosion starts when rudeness and incivility are not called out and stopped at the onset. The erosion continues when disrespect, snarking, invalidation and unprofessionalism are not called out and stopped in their tracks. Then, when bullying, (cyber-or otherwise), taunting, targeted horseplay and harassment are not quickly addressed or policies enforced, the dysfunction deepens further – and this invites even more degrees of violent behaviors into the mix – culminating in fistfights, vengefulness, mobbing and even homicide.

There is a Connection, a Continuum

The sad commentary is that ANY person in the Workplace, and especially supervisors and managers can and should stop bad behaviors in their tracks. Our workplaces do not have to become hostile environments. When they do become hostile, it is because Leadership has allowed this to happen. HR has the tools to intervene for the better. I’m reminded of one of Billy Joel’s song lyrics, “We didn’t start the fire… we didn’t light it… but now we have to fight it.” HR must step up.

Under the HR Umbrella:

Every business/organization needs to have a Workplace Violence Prevention Program. Within that Program, HR is responsible for a host of interconnected components:

  • Keeping C-Suite and all levels of the organization on-board, actively engaged and monitoring progress.
  • Creating and enforcing a forward moving, effectiveness-raising Respectful, Healthy, Positive Workplace Policy
  • Knowing where you are: Organization Assessment, Critical Assessment
  • Conducting Comprehensive Training… including on Policy, how to thwart bad behaviors, handling complaints, creating top/down individualized responsibility commitments, and specialized training on Courage & Confidence, Holding Difficult Conversations, Leading Responsibly for Supervisors; EQ-capacity Assessments; Emotional Intelligence certifications.
  • Doing on-going and integrated, facilitated Workgroup Improvement Sessions that lift up the behavioral elephants so they can be addressed; and the work-group can be the best they can be (together).
  • Having top-notch recruitment and hiring, supervisory promotion procedures; avoid the “bad hire”; avoid the “bad supervisory promotion” by including the tools Emotional Intelligence offers, including EQ-behavioral-based interviewing. Separations from employment (terminations) conducted with respect, diligence, and full documentation

Note: “HR’s role is many faceted in preventing bad behaviors leading to workplace violence. Working with Security adds another dimension for proactively addressing how to handle protective orders, retaining security when involved with terminations, having security controls in place, etc. This paper, however, is intended to address key Communication, Training & Development pieces.

Points to Ponder

Why is the courage to stand up missing in our workplaces? Fear? Apathy? Just not knowing how? Why is managerial courage lacking to intervene when bad behavior and corrective action is sorely needed?

HR’s role: HR has a huge responsibility to teach the tenets of desirable Workplace Behaviors, to write and enforce the policies that are essential to human interaction in the workplace. And, HR has to ensure that people who have direct reports possess the necessary courage, support and wherewithal to stand up and be counted – even when it is difficult and unpopular. The entire line organization has to have clarity on, and be committed to eliminating bad behaviors in the workplace. It is the role of HR to get the C-Suite and line organization on board.

 

The Iceberg of Ignorance metaphor illustrates the gaps of “acknowledging what is happening” in the various levels of management – particularly regarding the bad behavior occurring in the depth of our workplaces.

Iceberg of Ignorance

HR’s role: HR managers need to be educating entire line organizations beginning with the C-Suite all the way to the lowest levels of the echelon. Excuses are hollow for feigning ignorance to the epidemic of bad behaviors that are occurring. HR’s role is to step up and close the gaps of ignorance. One of the ways to do this is to insist on creating a culture of engagement wherein all levels of the organization are held accountable. There are parallels among lack of engagement and apathy, low morale, and reduced productivity.

 

Why aren’t all Supervisors/Managers of people (at all levels) being fully trained and developed on how to muster essential courage, to hold the difficult conversations that are necessary to deal with everything from disrespect and incivility to deeper, dysfunctional workplace violence behaviors?

HR’s role: HR cannot acquiesce their responsibility over this critical void in our organizations. there are specific courage-and-confidence-building training programs available, and training that equips supervisors to hold the most difficult conversations while taking ownership for holding them. Supervisors need to be able to perform under pressure – holding the conversations of responsible leadership. they need to feel the support of top management in this work. People, who are in positions of having other people report to them, need to have this specific training and be held accountable to produce positive interpersonal outcomes. HR needs to ensure this critical training is provided.

 

Why aren’t higher levels of management ensuring/insisting that Supervisors below them step up to address the ugly behaviors that ultimately impact productivity and the bottom line?

HR’s role: HR has several roles: to educate the line organization on each level’s role in preventing bad behaviors in the workplace; to ensure the appropriate addressing of all bad behavior; to monitor consistent application of policies, and to make progress or lack of progress visible. Engagement by all levels of the organization is essential for reducing the risk of Workplace Violence and bad behaviors.

 

Just as in Safety Management, if you walk by an unsafe condition, doing nothing to correct it, then that becomes your acceptable standard. It applies to people management too. If you ignore incivility, disrespect, bullying, harassment, etc;, closing your eyes to it, essentially, you are saying that the behavior is okay. It becomes the standard you accept. The missing piece – which needs to be embedded in the responsiveness of supervisors/managers/team leaders is – Allowing behaviors to occur that hurt people is unacceptable; it must be stopped. (Period).

HR’s role: HR needs to underscore how people treatment standards are set, reinforced or eroded, depending on the supervisor’s appropriate or inappropriate response. Does HR insist that supervisors courageously lift up and address the undesirable behaviors, to maintain respect and civility in the workplace? do supervisors and team managers have the wherewithal to do this? If not, why do they remain in supervisory or managerial functions?

 

Why is HR not connecting the dots that lack of authentic engagement with people correlates to not knowing your people? And in turn, to the growth of bad behaviors, apathy among their people, and the risk of increasing workplace violence concerns.

HR’s role: to know how thorough the engagement of supervisors with their direct reports actually is, and to continue to teach how to engage and hold authentic conversations. Do Supervisors know/use models or frameworks to further their engagement? Does HR set the example, regularly getting out of their offices and fully engaging with the people in the workplace, regardless of where in the HR pyramid one sits [administrative, functional, strategic] or interfacing with the C-Suite?

 

Are all members of supervision being trained on being able to pick up the weak signals (bad behavioral cues) that are present among the people they supervise?

HR’s role: It is HR’s duty to teach supervision about weak signals and patterns of bad behavior, how to recognize them and how to address them. This is basic supervisory training and development. Equally important is teaching Supervisors how to look for signs of quiet retaliation against those who do step forward courageously. supervisors cannot fall silent; they must enforce the standard that the deliberate hurting of another employee – is unacceptable. Note: ~45% of EEOC complaints last year referenced retaliation. HR needs to make sure that Supervision understands the seriousness of such charges to the business/organization.

 

Are HR groups raising the bar by creating Respectful, Healthy, Positive-behavior Workplace policies that set higher standards for more humane workplaces?

HR’s role: HR must continually raise the level of Expectation round Workplace Behaviors and the necessity to Prevent Workplace Violence of all types and magnitude. This is done through positive policy upgrades, behavioral acceptance training, and work-group communication training for lifting up the elephants that are getting in their way of being the best they can be.

 

Are there Work-team constructive dialogs happening that allow teams to improve and develop the acceptable principles of behavior they can and will live by?

HR’s role: HR, along with Supervisors, must enable work-team involvement in a workable process/format for engaging around difficult situations, i.e., bad behaviors. It is up to HR to establish an integrated, ongoing constructive dialog process. HR additional must ensure that supervisors participate and are trained to lead on-going discussions. If this is not happening, why isn’t it? Organizational assessments are also important; integrated, on-going work-team involvement is key for lifting up the elephants that are getting in the way of teams and groups being the best they can be together. it is not a one-time shot; it is a long-term endeavor, an ongoing, integrated process.

 

To underscore this point: why is courage missing in our Team Leaders and Supervisors? They are the managers/leaders of people who are in the position to see and address the elephants that cause deliberate hurting via bad behaviors.

HR’s role: HR must teach supervisors how to specifically muster the courage they need to manage people and ensure bad behaviors are checked at the onset. HR needs to teach supervisors how to lift up the elephants in the room so that they can be appropriately addressed, and not allowed to fester. HR also needs to teach people how to support each other. Just as we have layers of safety responsibilities and support in managing safety, so must we have layers of management engaged in the support for managing people and expectations of civil behavior.

 

Are the specific roles of bullying (bully, target, bystander, bully assistant, etc.,) openly shared in work group training (by HR) and then specific training provided on various ways to stop bullying in its tracks? Have work-teams created their in-house mantra to collectively stop the bad behaviors among themselves – the effective words that call out the bad behavior?

HR’s role: HR needs to shine a light on the ways and words to prevent bullying. Example: Unwanted, unwelcomed, and repeated jibes = Unacceptable. Work-teams need to be facilitated by HR to develop their understanding of undesirable behaviors in the Workplace and how to thwart them. Work-teams can develop their single mantra to speak openly, without fearfulness, about the behavior that is happening in the moment – calling it for what it is – unacceptable. This type of training is best done hands-on; rather than via computer-based-learning.

 

Is HR using the tools of Emotional Intelligence to ensure that we do not hire the bad hire or that we do not promote into supervision the emotionally unhealthy bad supervisor? Are your interviewers skilled in EQ/behavior-based interviewing? Are the interviewers cognizant of attributes of emotionally unhealthy people?

HR’s role: More and More, it is becoming important that HR people be Emotionally Intelligence certified. HR needs to do all that it can to prevent making a bad hire so the potential use of EQ testing for hiring and promoting should be a consideration; EQ/behavioral based interviewing skills must be sharpened. HR must be clear on the costs of a bad hire and the negative impact on the organization’s culture.