Workplace violence encouraged…by employers-Part 3

This is the last part of this series discussing the attitudes that encourage workplace violence (WPV). Unfortunately, many of these attitudes are so totally ingrained in the culture of many companies…it may be impossible to get rid of them easily. Of course that could be a problem, but to use a phrase that was popular a few months ago…maybe you need to drain the swamp.

  • Communication

There are not many younger managers around that have seen the 60s movie or remember the Strother Martin’s statement in “Cool Hand Luke” “What we have heah is a failyer to communicate”. One of the biggest bug-a-boos in the corporate world because being honest, many times it’s not done very efficiently or effectively. You may think that you are, but…

So many times, changes come down from ‘on-high’ (the C-suite or other management) without any regard to the problems it may cause, the law of unintended consequences.

These changes can cause many employees to get upset and wonder what the f***? Of course it may affect supervisors, who have to enforce these changes to ask the same thing.

It comes down to management that doesn’t make the time to prepare the employees for the change, if there is any & sometimes there isn’t. They fail to effectively and efficiently communicate the changes. Like politicians making promises that a new law is good for you. Then you find out you have to jump through many more hoops to accomplish that which was handled by just one or two last week.

Also remember the education gap you may be encountering in making it effective. Unless you’re working with a business staffed by those with nothing but MBA’s, then you need to write and communicate on a 6th grade level. Yes I know, that may sound degrading; however that is the level that is most easily understood in this electronics driven society, with the LOL, wtf, law, and innumerable messaging acronyms that leave grammar and spelling instructors aghast.

  • Unequal Enforcement of Policies

Another obstacle with attitudes which may be unavoidable, and should be allowed in some cases is… this may be especially difficult to avoid if you have one that is eager to please and takes on extra work.

This contributes to the perception that some employees may not be punished as hard as the next for similar or more severe rule or procedural violations. However, the one issue with this is that other employees only see the end result after an incident. They don’t see the process or why one employee was suspended and another was only reprimanded.

So you have to be as transparent as you possibly can in the enforcement of policies and procedures. Within a union environment this may not be so hard because of the contract. But if you have non-union employees then it may be trickier to have that transparency and therefore harder to justify.

  • Perceived Unequal Treatment

Ah, that word pops up yet again! Some employees will grumble and complain some very loudly, about how policies are so unfair. But that is their perception of the business. In fact some policies and procedures are unfair to some groups of employees but there is usually a reason for it. Perception is reality.

And with many groups of people being labeled and profiled in today’s world, Jews, Christians, Muslims, gender, sexual orientation, or disability, it’s hard to change those perceptions. Sometimes, it can be impossible if it is ingrained since they were born.

  • Authoritarian Style of Management

This style of management has been around for thousands of years and will continue to be around in some fashion, long after most of us are dead and buried. Succinctly it’s called my way or the highway. And if you don’t like it…then get out.

In some career fields it’s mandatory for management to operate this way. When they are dealing with a multitude of hazards or other safety/security issues, if for no other reason than the personal safety of the officers and employees. Violating safety or security rules can literally mean someone may or will get injured or killed. Despite the perception that they are out to get them…

  • Stereotyping

One thing that everyone, and I haven’t met a person yet who will admit it, does on a daily basis. It doesn’t matter how you stereotype, we all do it. We stereotype someone driving erratically as being drunk or high. If someone is wobbling down the street, we assume they’re drunk. If someone has a speech impediment, we call then stupid. Someone is rude, brusque, and irritated then we say they are ready to explode.

Those are just a few of the ways everyone will stereotype on a daily basis. And there are millions more. Think about it. How many times have you seen someone acting a certain way and you say they must be…

Stereotyping can be dangerous. The individual may be suffering from a medical condition. They may be hurt i.e. a concussion. They may well just be plain stupid – putting on make-up in the car or trying to get somewhere faster, in the last 2 examples the hospital.

  • Conclusion

I’m hoping that by reading this long post you can get an idea on how to counteract some of these attitudes in your company and managerial duties. It’s never easy to criticize yourself, but in this case you have to evaluate how you come across to your employees or co-workers. Remember it’s all about perception.

(How many times did you count perception or its innuendo in these last three posts? It was 16 times or thereabouts. That should give you a heads up on the possible reasoning why the employee provokes a WPV incident with their attitudes.)

Robert D. Sollars assists businesses and their employees to lessen their risk of WPV as well as other security/customer service related issues. You can follow him on or @robertsollars2 on twitter.

                             I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear


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