Horrible Bosses: Follow These HR Policies To Avoid Workplace Violence

by | Jul 6, 2011 | Blog, HR Policies, Human Resources, Leadership, Management

  • Amy Letke

    Amy Newbanks Letke, SPHR, GPHR, is the Founder of Integrity HR, Inc. Amy provides workplace solutions to improve performance, reduce liability and increase profits. She is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs and business owners achieve success. Contact us for more insights - 502-753-0970 or info@integrityhr.com

Just a couple days ago, the premise of the upcoming movie “Horrible Bosses” seemed pretty funny.

Three disgruntled employees seek vengeance on their over-the-top and inappropriate bosses. The movie follows the trio’s attempts at knocking off their bosses.

But this dramatized scenario became all too real this week in Louisville.

On Tuesday, a LG&E employee walked into LG&E’s South Service Center on Jennings Lane and fatally shot his supervisor before taking his own life.

Suddenly, the movie doesn’t seem so funny.

Louisville Metro Police have not disclosed information on what may have led to the shooting, but one LG&E employee said there was tension between the two workers. Sgt. Robert Biven, a LMPD spokesman said, “There is nothing rational about this.” He added, “There is an alternative way to work things out without people getting hurt.”

Most employees have had to deal with bosses they simply cannot get along with. Whether it is a verbally abusive supervisor or a gossip stirring manager, it is common for employees to get frustrated with their bosses from time to time.

A survey released Tuesday by staffing company OfficeTeam finds that 46 percent of those polled reported having worked for an “unreasonable boss.” Of those respondents to the survey, nearly 60 percent said they stayed in their job, compared to 11 percent who left right away and 27 percent who left eventually when they were able to secure another position.

There are many ways to handle “unreasonable bosses” without physically harming the individual (or getting fired).

In a previos blog series, we talked about how to deal with poor management:

How To Deal With Poor Management Part 1
How To Deal With Poor Management Part 2
How To Deal With Poor Management Part 3
How To Deal With Poor Management Part 4

Now, here’s a little refresher course.

For the employee:

If you or someone you know is unhappy in their current job because of a conflict with their supervisor, here are some tips on how to handle the situation.

  1. Talk to your supervisor. Open communication in the work place leads to a productive workplace. Say something like, “Let’s sit down and talk about how we might work better together.” Use lead-ins like, “I feel undermined when you do this” to explain how your boss’s behavior influences you.
  2. If you feel uncomfortable talking directly to your supervisor, you can go above his or her head to a higher-level manger.
  3. If your supervisor is the highest-level manager, go to Human Resources. Their job is to handle this type of situation. They will serve as a mediator when you decide to confront your boss.

For the employer:

As the employer, you need to be aware of warning signs that something is wrong with one of your employees. These are common warning signs:

  1. An employee has a change in behavior or mood. Maybe one of your outgoing employees become withdrawn.
  2. An employee becomes obsessed with weapons. Whether it is Googling words like pistol or gun, or doodling pictures at their desk, you need to be aware of this behavior.
  3. An employee’s performance slips. When employees are upset, they do not perform as well. They may show up to work late, stay for less time, be disorganized and/or decrease work quality.

Employers must encourage an atmosphere of open communication. Let your employees know they can come to you with any issue. As an employer, if you think your employees are not happy with you, then talk to them. Ask, “How can I be a better supervisor?” Asking your employees for feedback will not make you look weak; instead it will show your employees that their opinions matter.

Protecting Your Company

Employers CANNOT have the attitude that a tragedy like the one at LG&E will not happen at their work place. Employers must be prepared.

To prevent violence at your company:

  • Have a workplace violence policy and prevention program in place. This policy should be communicated to all employees.
  •  Involve the local police department in your security plan.
  • Promote a clear weapons policy. Make sure your weapons policy complies with the state laws.
  • Investigate every threat. Don’t take any violent side comment or joke lightly.

If you have any questions about creating a workplace violence prevention program, feel free to contact us. The consultants at Integrity HR can help you design a workplace violence policy that is customized to your company.

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