Keeping High Risk Terminations from Becoming Active Shooter Disasters
Too many managers think that terminating an employee who has unacceptable aggression issues or has committed some act or threat of workplace violence will be the end of the problem. If handled poorly, it may just be the beginning of a more serious one. If termination is unavoidable, the goal is to make the unpleasant experience more tolerable for the individual through fairness, clarity, understanding, and discretion. The goal is to conduct the action in a manner that takes away their desire to either respond violently during the termination, or return later as an active shooter. Seeking the help of threat assessment and security professionals to assist with the termination planning can reduce the likelihood that this violent follow up could occur. They can help you with the appropriate precautions before the termination, during the termination, and afterwards.
The process begins with recognizing the types of individuals that could be considered high risk terminations. The circumstances of the termination affect how this is evaluated. If the termination is being necessitated by unacceptably aggressive behavior in the first place, then that is an obvious high risk individual. Early recognition of aggressive or violence prone tendencies is essential and may even give the company a chance to work with the individual to improve the behavior before the termination becomes the only option. This early recognition is the responsibility of the entire workforce. Employees must first take note of the conduct and then follow through to report it. This might not happen if the employees are not all trained in what type of behavior is inappropriate and that they have a responsibility to report it.
All employees, supervisors, and threat assessment team members must be trained to recognize their roles in the organization’s workplace violence avoidance program. Employees and supervisors must be trained to recognize and report problem behavior. The assessment team must then begin the process of analyzing all of the accumulated data to reveal the severity of the problem. Denying the significance of certain conduct in order to “avoid confrontation” or failing to “connect the dots” are phrases often heard after a violent incident to describe what went wrong.
But what if the termination is for another business reason and the indicators that this person might respond in an emotionally driven, violent manner are harder to spot. What if it is a downsizing move or elimination of a position not due to poor conduct or performance? Can this be high risk? Now we have to look deeper into the circumstances and emotional state of the individual in question. They may not be demonstrating obvious precursor signs of violent behavior, but they might have some other contributing factors at play. You need to be aware of these or they might surprise you with a sudden ‘unforeseen’ type of action at the termination interview, or following it. These people might fit one of the categories below:
- The disgruntled employee – not violent yet but always has a chip on their shoulder about the company
- The overly attached employee – their whole life is their work and they do not have much of a support structure
- The ‘end of their rope’ employee – they have had so much other life stress that losing a job may be the last straw
Of course not all of these people will respond violently to being terminated, but they might, and for that possibility you must take some precautions to accomplish the goal mentioned earlier. Take away their desire to act violently or return for revenge.
For more on high risk terminations and other workplace violence prevention training check out www.imac-training.com.