Yes, the employer can have such attitudes and impact on employees that they may encourage workplace violence (WPV) against co-workers, supervisory staff, customers, or vendors. As strange as that may sound in this age of inclusiveness, treating everyone the same, with respect, and dignity, it happens. And it happens in virtually every company.
A small caveat to add, all of the attitudes that I’m going to list can actually just be in the mind of the employee. If that is the case, then you may have a bigger issue to deal with other than a WPV incident which turns deadly. One term I created more than a quarter century ago tends to add credibility to this.
Perception is Reality. All that really matters is that the employee, no matter the gender, ethnicity, or religion, recognizes the situation as real. Whatever they perceive to be real is real to them. And that could be a significant issue in and of itself. They have conditioned themselves, through bad judgement or mental illness to believe that everyone is out to get them, at least in their perceptions of reality.
We have spent untold billions of dollars on building security systems and facilities to prevent WPV. We’ve written policies & procedures and given new benefits to employees to combat it. We’ve spent innumerable dollars in trying to protect employees against an incident. But we have failed in 2 critical ways; we still ignore the warning signs and contribute to the violence with the attitudes we hold onto and encourage.
Is the below list a definitive all-inclusive list of attitudes that can lead an employee towards being violent or disruptive in the business? Not in the least. So how do you know what to look out for and train your supervisors and managers against? Train them to be observers and then from there create your own list and watch for those items. Every industry and employee is different, therefore it’s imperative that you know them, and tweak for your own use, these attitudes for your own circumstances.
- Perceived disparate treatment
That one word which will become increasingly pesky and irritating throughout these posts is about to rear its ugly head for the fifth time already… perception. This is one of the big ones that employee’s will see. Now while it is not always true, we do treat employees differently. And that’s not always a bad thing. In order to be a good supervisor/manager you need to know your employees and know how to treat each one. Consequently this means differently.
Some employees are slower to learn, hard headed, stubborn, or just plain lazy. In order to get the best out of each and every one you have to deal effectively with everyone’s personality. And while that may not be totally feasible in a union environment, you do have to know how to do it.
The supervisors ‘pet’ will receive better hours, pay, perqs, and more lenient application of rules. Now do you necessarily want them to be a pet? No, but they have given everything they could have and more for you and the company. That means that you will treat them differently in appreciation. If they make a mistake after years of faithful service, you’re more likely to overlook it. And when the chance for overtime pops up, they may get first pick. The other employees may not know all the facts and they see that you’re treating one employee better than them.
So, should you start treating everyone the same and not recognize an employee for excellent service or outstanding work? Of course not. Again, learning how to treat each person as an individual is necessary to being a successful manager. Will it make some people mad and upset at you? Of course it will, but then again you have to learn how to handle that just as effectively, avoiding the landmines that come with being in a managerial role.
As I stated, these attitudes which are encouraged by employers and good business practice, can cause an employee to go off at a co-worker at any time. Remember, it’s all about their perception of what’s happening. If they perceive that they are being lied to or useless platitudes talked to them, then in their mind, they are. And there is nothing you can say or do, at least immediately, to counteract it.
The second post in this series will be next week. If you lost count…perception or its derivatives were used seven times. Unfortunately, it will be used a lot more because along with the employer encouraging these attitudes their opinions will sway employees as well.
I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear