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

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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

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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.

Active Shooter a Microcosm of Our Society Impacting Workplace Safety and Security

Posted on: January 25th, 2017

Intro by Felix Nater…

In this article my Special Guest Blogger, Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Mike Wood, author of Newhall Shooting: A Tactical Analysis, and I collaborate to draw correlations between the threat of workplace homicides and the societal impact the active shooter and mass shooter has on everyone  no matter where we might find  ourselves.

 

Since we spend as much time at work as we do away from home, we believe whatever violence response training workplaces can provide must be as comprehensive and realistic as possible.

When workplaces make decisions to train on “Run, Hide and Fight” employers must understand that policies plans and procedures must be aligned. Can you tell an employee to fight as a measure of last resort when your workplace violence prevention policy says fighting or acts of aggression are against the policy?  This contradiction might freeze decisions and appropriate responses. Just saying!

 

When we tell the employee to run without proper training the employee might run into the shooter or while running away might be shot. Is there the possibility of creating unintentional civil liability consequences, which a skillful attorney might exploit during a civil lawsuit emanating from a serious injury or wrongful death allegation? I don’t know! What do you think?

 

It’s like “Zero Tolerance”–a well-intended policy but maybe too rigid and too structured. The employee who notices a co-worker exhibiting warning signs rationalizes his observations before reporting a co-worker knowing that his co-worker can be disciplined and even fired.

 

I do not encourage that workplaces undertake a frequency of an impractical training schedule on active shooter drills just because it is the right way to train. My point is that current training may not be addressing the workplace responsibilities or properly addressing the tactical common sense decisions needed to be taken.

 

What I do encourage is thoughtful training that realistically connects employee and management responsibilities and expectations. Training which fails to articulate what occurs in a real world shooting incident, and which only pushes out information, will assuredly produce more conflict, confusion, and misunderstanding, and increase risk for those involved.

Mike and I served in the military, where vital survival skills were reinforced through intensive,  repetitive training in order to make them more reflexive.  We understand that employers lack the time and resources to train to this standard, and it’s not realistic to expect that a workplace training program will build ” muscle memory” that makes responses automatic.

My law enforcement career as a United States Postal Inspector / Firearms Instructor and Threat Management Coordinator exposed me to realities typically encountered in the law enforcement community associated with serving search warrants, making arrests, car stops and training law enforcement personnel in scenarios they are most likely to encounter. Inherent in these scenarios are behaviors that must be understood and multiple simultaneous actions that must take place.

 

Well the same thing happens to employees or shoppers during a shooting incident. The “brain freezes” not intentionally but because there’s no stored information that the reflexes can draw upon. Fear overcomes the moment. There are tactics one can take to manage the moment that are not difficult to train to but can help the recovery process during the initial sounds of hysteria. When I audit this training I cringe at the lack of substance and correlation.

 

Suffice to say that we have expertise and specialized skills unlikely to be found in most workplaces. As such, training “employees” needs to create a training objective that allows employees to understand their actions, how to act out independently or in concert during the escape, evasion, evacuation procedures.

 

Because time, money and resources are limitations, training must bring clarity to what it is participants are most likely to encounter, what they need to “Know, Do and Why”. Absent clarity in the content presented will not improve survival and only add to the confusion.  There are tactics employees can take before encountering the shooter and encountering the police.

 

I am saying that training in active shooter / hostile intruder should be informative, enlightening, educational and realistic. To have real world value such training must empower the employee to know what to do and why, no matter where they may find themselves during an active shooting or mass shooting incident. If you are in a movie theater you know how to minimize risk. When caught in a mall or department store or open area know how to make better decisions.

 

* * * * *

Thoughts by Mike Wood…

The New Year had hardly begun when a terrorist killed scores in a shooting attack on an Istanbul nightclub, and we hadn’t even completed the first full month of 2017 when another shooter killed five and wounded more here in our own country, at the airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

 

While both of these attacks were horrific, neither was completely unexpected by those who were paying attention to the world around them.  We didn’t know the specifics of when and where the next “active shooter” attacks would take place, but we could be confident that they were on the way, in the same manner that we can predict there will be more to come.

 

We live in a world where the threats of attacks like these are ever-present.  Here in America, we have an increasingly violent criminal class which has become emboldened by failed public policies and the virulent anti-law enforcement culture which has taken hold in some communities.  Our mental healthcare system is broken, leaving untold numbers of emotionally disturbed persons, including many with violent tendencies, without access to proper care and supervision.  Additionally, there are a burgeoning number of foreign and domestic terrorists who would use violence to advance their political and cultural aims. In fact, our intelligence agencies have warned us that small-scale, asymmetric attacks like the Istanbul or Fort Lauderdale ones, are a preferred method of our enemy because they have a large impact while demanding very little in the way of resources or planning.

 

With all of these potential actors in play, it takes no imagination whatsoever to forecast that more attacks are coming.

 

So, what should you do about it?

 

The most important thing is to get your mind right. Accept the fact that it can happen to you. Doing so will help you to avoid the paralyzing effects of denial, and free your mind to solve important problems, should you find yourself subject to attack. Would you rather stand frozen in shock in the wake of an attack, or take immediate action to save yourself and others? The choice is yours to make, and it begins now with an acceptance of reality, and the appropriate programming of the mind.

 

Accepting that you could be the target of attack will allow you to change your behaviors in a positive and proactive way.  If you’re conscious of risk, then you’ll become more aware of your environment, and will do a better job of detecting and avoiding potential trouble. You’ll see the threats and indicators that people who walk around with their noses stuck to smart phone screens won’t, and you’ll have the time to avoid them. You’ll also do a better job of weighing costs and benefits, allowing you to avoid some unnecessary risks entirely, by opting out of the activities that would needlessly subject you to them.

 

Despite our best efforts to detect and avoid problems, trouble still has a way of finding us at times. In those cases, the more prepared we are to deal with trouble, the better off we will be.

 

From the perspective of mindset, we need to train ourselves that in an emergency (whether it’s a fire, a medical situation, or an attack), we will be active participants in our own rescue. If we are in danger, we must immediately take action to either remove ourselves from the threat, or terminate the threat, as conditions warrant. It would be nice to have help with this, but we cannot count on it, and we cannot delay our response until we receive it.  There is nobody who is more responsible for your personal safety than you, so you must take the lead role in rescuing yourself from danger.

 

Make that commitment now.  Train yourself to look for avenues of escape when you enter a room. Refresh yourself with the locations of alarms or emergency equipment in your workplace. Make mental notes of the things in your environment that could serve as cover, concealment, or makeshift weapons. Give yourself the permission to use righteous force in the defense of yourself or others. Mentally rehearse your response to an active threat. Take classes to educate yourself in first aid and self-defense, and ensure you have access to lifesaving equipment.

 

Do these things now, while you have the time and resources.  We know that more trouble is on the way, so the only question is whether or not you’ll be a victor or a victim when it comes.

-Mike

 

 

Workplace Violence Prevention in the Age of the ‘Active Shooter’ Webinar: January 21, 2016

Posted on: January 15th, 2016

BY TERRI M. SOLOMON ON

DECEMBER 11, 2015

The tragic mass shootings in Paris, Colorado Springs, and San Bernardino, in three successive weeks, have had global reverberations.  They have also left employers grappling with questions as to what measures they should take—or are legally obligated to take—to keep employees safe from harm in the workplace.  A recurring question posed over the last three weeks has been “should we conduct active shooter training?”

While the confluence of these three incidents has caused many to panic, mass shootings are sadly nothing new.  The New York Times reported that there were 10 prior deadly rampages since 2012, with the number of deaths ranging from six to 26 people, and the number of wounded far greater.1  A 2012 survey identified at least 73 mass shootings in the United States in the last three decades.2  However, given the size of the United States, the odds of being the victim of a workplace shooting are statistically low.3  Thus, while employers should take prudent measures to protect workplaces, employers should not overreact or impose drastic measures that are disproportionate to the actual risk, are unnecessarily costly, or are likely to be ineffective.

Background

Under the federal Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA), all employers have a general duty to provide a safe workplace for employees, free from recognized hazards that cause or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees.4

Although a few states have imposed specific obligations on a small segment of employers in particular industries, the vast majority of workplaces are governed only by the OSHA “general duty clause.”

As demonstrated by the spate of mass shootings, some believed to be acts of terrorism, it is not possible to prevent all acts of violence that may affect employees.  Nonetheless, in an effort to reduce risk and prevent undesirable occurrences, employers should have policies and practices in place to increase awareness and reporting of actual or potential incidents of workplace violence.

Workplace violence encompasses any conduct that is sufficiently severe, offensive or intimidating as to cause an employee to reasonably fear for his/her personal safety or the safety of his/her family, friends and/or property, such that employment conditions are altered or a hostile, abusive or intimidating work environment is created.  This includes actual acts of violence such as shooting, hitting and other forms of physical abuse, as well as threats of violence, including surveillance and stalking. While some instances of workplace violence are committed by employees, many are perpetrated by outsiders such as family members, spouses or partners, clients or strangers.

And while many think of workplace violence as threatening conduct that only occurs in the workplace setting, workplace violence is actually much broader and also encompasses behavior that occurs outside the work premises—if the company determines that the incident may lead to an occurrence of violence at the company’s work site. This may include violent conduct or threats of violence by one company employee against another (such as an employee making threatening phone calls, sending menacing e-mails to a co-worker’s home, or brandishing a weapon in the workplace), and threats or acts of violence occurring off the company’s premises involving an employee of the company as a victim (such as a threat of violence by an estranged spouse or disgruntled customer).

Recommendations for Preventing Workplace Violence

Although three mass shootings in the same number of weeks could make it appear as though there has been a drastic increase in incidents of violence in workplaces and public places (which are also the workplaces of many), employers should not overreact.  As stated above, there has been a steady stream of mass shootings and other violent acts in the workplace for decades, and yet such tragedies are statistically rare. Nonetheless, there are measured, time-tested steps that employers should take to increase awareness of, and consequently improve chances of preventing, violence in the workplace.

Employers are well-advised to adopt a “zero tolerance” workplace violence policy and to disseminate such policy to all employees. Key elements of such a policy include a statement of the company’s commitment to maintaining a safe working environment free from violence and intimidation; a definition of workplace violence and illustrative examples; a description of the types of objects that will be deemed prohibited weapons; a statement encouraging employees to report any such behavior that makes them feel uncomfortable; the company’s reporting procedure, which should include alternative persons to whom such behavior can be reported; the company’s commitment to investigate promptly all reports of suspicious behavior and threats of violence; the company’s discretion to implement the program in keeping with its commitment to maintaining a safe workplace; and the potential consequences should an employee be found to have engaged in behavior in violation of such policy.  The mantra “if you see something, say something” will yield results if employees know that they can come forward and have their concerns promptly addressed, without fear of retribution.  Many employers also choose to address domestic violence in the company’s workplace violence policy. The workplace violence policy should be distributed in the same manner as the company’s other important policies, such as equal employment opportunity and harassment avoidance.  Like the equal employment opportunity and harassment policies, the workplace violence policy should be regularly reviewed with employees.

To further reinforce the company’s zero-tolerance workplace violence policy, a company may wish to conduct periodic training of employees on how to spot potential workplace violence and take the appropriate action when confronted with a potentially violent or harassing situation. Much as a fire drill alerts employees to the steps they need to take in the event of a fire, live or computer-based workplace violence prevention training programs tend to reinforce employees’ awareness of possible signs of workplace violence and the steps they should take when confronted with actual or threatened violent conduct.

As part of its workplace violence prevention program, each company should designate a management response team (MRT) to act as the frontline response to any occurrences or threats of violence in the workplace. Depending on the employer’s size and organizational structure, the MRT might include representatives of senior management, human resources, security, and in-house legal counsel. An MRT might also include outside representatives such as threat assessment professionals, local law enforcement authorities, risk management professionals, and outside counsel. The MRT should develop an emergency response plan that anticipates how the employer will deal with an incident of workplace violence—including securing the workplace, contacting law enforcement, informing employees of the danger by alarms, emails, or text messages, notifying families during and after an incident, dealing with media, and responding with any necessary crisis counseling and other measures in the aftermath of an incident.

In addition to developing and implementing a workplace violence program and designating an MRT, companies are also well-advised to conduct a comprehensive safety and security audit to identify and correct any gaps in security or possible unsafe conditions, such as malfunctioning security systems, broken locks, multiple sites of access, and poor lighting.  Installation of deadbolts on doors could be an inexpensive precaution that may save many lives in the event of an attack.  Creating “safe rooms” is an option that companies are considering with increasing frequency; these can involve great expense and it is recommended that a company with experience in design be consulted. Many companies conduct safety audits internally, often led by security or facilities departments; other companies engage the services of private security companies.  As part of this safety initiative, employers should consider partnering with their local police departments; many precincts have community affairs officers available to assist. Indeed, in some municipalities, the police may offer security consultations as part of their community service initiatives.

To avoid the confusion evidenced in recent catastrophes, where employers were uncertain as to which employees were in the building at the time of an incident of violence, it may be advisable for companies to adopt a sign in/sign out system each time an employee enters and leaves the building.  Employers should also require employees to update their personal information and emergency contact information at least annually, in the event that an emergency were to occur.

Finally, many companies try to avoid issues potentially associated with hiring violent employees by conducting background checks.  However, while criminal background checks may provide invaluable information regarding whether an applicant is at risk of engaging in violent behavior in the workplace, employers must be mindful of applicable legal constraints under various federal, state and local laws.  Pursuant to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, an employer that enlists a third-party to perform background checks on a prospective (or current) employee, which the employer may use in connection with employment-related decisions, generally must provide prior notice to such person and obtain his/her consent. In addition, prior to taking any adverse action against such applicant (or employee) based on the results of a background check (including a decision to not hire or to terminate such individual), the employer must provide the person with a copy of the background check report and a summary of rights under applicable law.  Employers also should be mindful that Equal Employment Opportunity Commission takes the position that the use of criminal background checks may result in adverse impact liability in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Further, some states have enacted laws limiting employer use of conviction or arrest records, and others have adopted so-called “ban the box” statutes prohibiting the employer from asking questions about conviction or arrest records until after a conditional offer of employment has been extended.  Certain state laws have imposed detailed restrictions that must be followed to legally prohibit weapons in the workplace.  An employer must therefore ensure that any action taken with respect to an applicant or current employee, or even when implementing new policies and procedures, does not run afoul of applicable law.

Active Shooter Training

The recent mass shootings and acts of terrorism have prompted many employers to inquire as to whether they are legally required to—and if not, whether they should—conduct active shooter training.  Before rushing into this, employers should be mindful of certain considerations.

There is no general legal requirement that an employer conduct active shooter training.  In general, employers are not security experts and lack the training and expertise to direct employees as to how to react when confronted with a gun in the workplace. Rather, it is only law enforcement officials and other government authorities who should be giving such directives.  The potential consequences of a misstep can be both dangerous and costly.  For example, if an employer advised employees during a training drill to run if ever confronted with an active shooter, and an employee is shot in the back while running from an assailant as directed, the employer could face possible liability on top of other tragic circumstances.

For employers who decide that they want to offer some type of emergency training as part of their workplace violence prevention program, there are a number of options.  An increasing number of police departments offer active shooter and other such training, free of charge, to employers.  The Department of Homeland Security has a wealth of resources offered to the public, including several excellent short training videos.  One, entitled “Run, Hide, Fight,” uses actors to depict an active shooter in the workplace, while the narrator gives instructions regarding the best course of action for particular employees depending upon their location. An employer who chooses to incorporate one of these videos into its regular workplace violence training is well-advised to make it clear to employees that the recommendations are those of the Department of Homeland Security.

There are also a number of private companies that offer drills and other training to employees on how to react when faced with a shooter or other dangerous emergency situations.  Employers should carefully vet the qualifications, training and references of such companies, and ensure that they carry adequate insurance in the event that any participant is injured. Proponents of such training believe that, like fire drills, having participants walk and talk through simulated situations creates innate responses when faced with an actual situation, which could save lives when instant reaction is critical.  For example, during these exercises, emergency evacuation routes are identified and employees practice getting to them.  These drills could also offer life-saving tips, such as making employees aware that certain rooms are always locked and that running to them could waste valuable time and result in an employee being trapped when unable to enter.  Other drills using actors posing as shooters could force employees to decide, in a moment of panic, whether the best course of action is to run or to shelter in place, following which trainers can critique their actions in the safety of a classroom setting.  Like any other emergency training, however, repeated training or refresher courses on a periodic basis would produce the best chance of retention.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to prevent incidents of workplace violence entirely. However, by implementing comprehensive procedures, educating employees on the necessity of recognizing and reporting threatening, suspicious or otherwise troubling conduct, and taking other preventive measures as outlined above, an employer is in a better position to recognize, confront and perhaps eliminate some of the risk of workplace violence.

1 Associated Press, California Attack is latest in String of US Mass Shootings, New York Times, Dec. 2, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/12/02/us/ap-us-mass-shootings-glance.html.

2 Mark Follman, Gavin Aronsen, and Deanna Pan, A Guide to Mass Shootings in America, Mother Jones, July 20, 2012, http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mass-shootings-map.

3 U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Workplace Violence – Issues in Response, p. 12, prepared by Critical Incident Response Group National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (2002).

4 See 29 U.S.C. § 654(a)(1) (requiring each employer to “furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees”).

On January 21, 2016 at 3:00 EST/2:00 CST/12:00 PST, Littler will host a webinar titled “Workplace Violence Prevention in the Age of the ‘Active Shooter’.”  Registration information will follow.