By Jaimee Pittman, President Baron Center, Inc.
When the news broke about the shootings in Roanoke Virginia last week, my first thought was probably similar to yours, “Oh no! How awful.” As more and more details about the shooter were revealed my thought was, “He sounds all too familiar.”
In my role as President of Baron Center, Inc., I have worked side by side with a team of Threat Assessment Professionals for over 15 years. I’ve watched them safely shepherd our clients through some scary situations, and I’ve been in the room when they have raised awareness through practical training about preventing workplace violence. It’s tough stuff. One of our team has said that most business folks don’t obsess about this topic the way we do – lucky them!
There really isn’t a “profile” of who may become violent. Nor does every situation unfold in the same manner. But over the years we’ve handled many situations where the employee has acted out in a similar fashion to this most recent tragedy. We’ve seen individuals who feel as though they have been ‘victimized’ and whose behaviors escalate over time. The pattern can feel all too familiar.
So I hope you’ll forgive me for seizing this opportunity to remind you of a few things. Early intervention is so important. Don’t minimize the actions or behaviors, and then hope it will settle down or fade away. It’s important to be prepared. Identify necessary resources before you might need them. (Security, EAP, local law enforcement) Have a plan in place. (How will you handle a potentially volatile termination? How will you manage communication post-termination?) Ask for help if you need it.
It’s not possible to share all that’s needed to prevent workplace violence in a single article, or even in a series of articles! But my goal here is to encourage you to get started. Now.
Here is a link to a resource from SHRM and ASIS that provides an overview of policies, processes, and protocols that organizations can use to help identify and prevent workplace violence.
If you’d like some ideas about how to intervene in difficult and disruptive workplace behaviors, here’s a link to a recent series of articles on our blog “Difficult and Disruptive Workplace Behaviors – Intervene or Ignore?”