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How To Handle Workplace Violence



Building And Reinforcing Teams (14)


Akindotun Merino

Violence accounts for roughly one quarter of work related deaths in the United States. In order to prevent workplace violence, it is essential that managers and employees are able to identify individuals who could become violent and understand how to diffuse dangerous situations. Violent behavior does not appear out of nowhere. There are different behaviors that indicate possible violence over time.

There are several different behaviors that can lead to violence if left to escalate. It is the responsibility of every manager to know employees and how they behave in order to identify possible problems. Customers and vendors can also be the cause of workplace violence. Here are types of behavior problems:

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Acting Out: Employees express anger in inappropriate ways such as yelling, slamming, etc.

Irresponsible Behavior: Employees do not take responsibility for their actions.

Selfish Behavior: Employees do not care how their actions affect those around them.

Mixed Behavior: Employees verbally agree to follow rules, but do not.

Rigid Behavior: Employees are unwilling to try new things and take direction.

Avoidance: Employees lie, drink, or take drugs.

Extreme Behavior: Employees completely alter the way they act.

Odd Behavior: Employees have poor social skill or obsess about ideas or people.

When an employee exhibits questionable behavior, it is essential that the behavior is addressed before it escalates. Employers need to document behavior and discuss it with the employee. Talk to the employee about how the negative behavior affects work. It is important not to attack the employee on a personal level. Remember not to assume everyone who has a bad day is going to become violent.

If you are aware of any problems that your employee is facing, help by offering training, counseling, or both. Monitor behavior. If things do not improve, it may be necessary for a problem employee to leave. Security needs to be aware of any troubled employees who leave an organization. Employees who are paranoid, antisocial, or preoccupied with weapons, should be watched carefully.
Employers need to implement workplace violence action plans. It is important to train employees how to recognize and prevent violence. An action plan should reflect certain elements.

Action Plan can include:
Screening: Use background checks and reference checks to hire stable individuals.

Security: Implement a security protocol.

Mediation: Help employees find ways to resolve disputes.

Balance: Create programmes that will promote work and life balance.

Assess: Hire a threat assessment team to watch for potential violence.

Responsibilities: Outline employer and employee responsibilities.

Situation Management: Have a plan in place for the worst-case scenario.

Post Situation Management: Have a plan ready to support employees after a crisis.

There are risks with every job, but employers have an obligation to identify potential safety hazards and address them. Hazards are unique to each profession, but there are common hazards that are directly related to violence at work. Risk assessments and evaluations should be done periodically to ensure the safety of everyone in the workplace.

It is important to identify hazards that can contribute to workplace violence. Identify hazards so that risks can be assessed and plans implemented that will control the risk and protect employees. There are some common hazards that all companies need to be aware of.

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  • History of workplace violence
  • Job description
  • Working with valuable merchandise
  • Number of people working
  • Lack of security cameras and visibility

Once you identify the potential hazards, use them to assess the risk of violence in your organization. For example, employees should not work alone. If employees do work alone, there should be a strict safety and security protocol. Employees are also at risk if they handle expensive merchandise. Do you have plans in place that prevent the hazards from becoming actual risks? Assessing risks is done so that the risks can be controlled. While there is no such thing as perfect safety, there are steps to add in policies and procedures that will help prevent workplace violence.

For example, always open or close with at least two people in the building, and do not let customers in after hours. The needs of each organization will be different, but using the assessment as a guide will help maintain a safe work environment. A safe work environment requires employers to evaluate and review their risk assessments regularly. Plans need to change to suit the needs of the individuals. It is essential that the data used to implement plans be accurate. Evaluations and reviews allow managers to make informed decisions about the constantly changing work environment.

Not every personal conflict is the result of bullying. For example, an employee who is reprimanded for breaking a rule is not necessarily being bullied. It is bullying, however, if the manager, yells, humiliates, or threatens the employee. The problem with bullying is that it does not appear to be bullying. This is why many bullying acts are considered legal.
Not Bullying:

  • Coaching an employee
  • Reprimanding employees who break rules
  • Refusing to promote a low-performing employee
  • Legitimately complaining about a coworker
  • Not being personal friends with a coworker

If you are the victim of bullying, there are certain steps that you need to take to protect yourself. Bullying is harder to prove than classic harassment. The targets of bullies usually leave their organizations out of self-preservation, but it is in an employer’s best interest to eliminate bullying behavior. While most bullying is not illegal, per se, it does cost companies money.


  • Recognize the problem: Do not accept the bully’s definition of you. The bully is the problem.
  • Keep a paper trail: Record bullying incidents, and keep documents that counter a bully’s claims about your work.
  • Have a witness: Have a witness around during meetings with the bully.
  • Inform your supervisors: Make the appropriate supervisor aware of your situation.

You may or may not want to confront a bully. If you fear retaliation, it might be best to avoid a direct confrontation before going to a supervisor.

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Policy and procedures are created to enforce the company Code of Ethics and prevent problems in the future. Every organization should have an anti-harassment policy and procedures established. Policies not only issue rules; they establish who is responsible for enforcing those rules. They make the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior clear.

Dr. Akindotun Merino is a Professor of Psychology and a Mental Health Commissioner in California. Share your successes and challenges:

Prof. Akindotun Merino
Jars Education Group
Instagram: @drakinmerino: Twitter: @drakindotun


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Mental Health

Building And Reinforcing Teams (3) (16)



Building And Reinforcing Teams (14)

By Akindotun Merino
When you find yourself excessively self-oriented, this is a sign that you need to deepen your humility and refocus on serving others. Here are some ways to help you foster a greater sense of humility:

Allow others to be first and foremost. Insisting on being the first in line, the first to raise your hand in a class, the first to get the parking spot, and so on, has a tendency to inflate one’s sense of self-importance. However, when you allow others to have the spotlight or be first, it gives you a better vantage point to appreciate their gifts and what they are able to bring to the table. And when you can do this, you actually find yourself in a better position to lead others because you understand how they can best contribute.

Don’t insist on being right. Nobody likes to be wrong, including other people. When you are wrong it puts you in a vulnerable position, which can be scary. However, vulnerability is often what makes a person beautiful and appreciable. Allowing others the legitimacy of their beliefs without correction from you is a charitable act.

Listen to what other people think more than telling them what you think. Dale Carnegie once said that the sweetest sound to anyone is the sound of their own voice. Really paying attention to what other people have to say without having to correct or undermine them helps you to stay oriented outward rather than being self-absorbed.

READ ALSO: Building And Reinforcing Teams 2 (15)

Try not to judge others. An old saying goes like this, “When you point a finger at someone else, you have three fingers pointing back at you.” While it is tempting to judge another person, to assess what they are doing and how they are doing it, when you do so, you are presuming that you know better. Unfortunately, unless you have lived the experiences of another person, you cannot know what is best for them. Your grasp on another person’s situation will always be incomplete because you don’t have the complete picture.

Finally keep your balance. Throughout the whole process of becoming a more effective leader and a more effective human being, two tools can help smooth the way. The first is developing a greater sense of gratitude. When you wake up in the morning, or while you drink your coffee or eat breakfast, either write down in a notebook or type on your computer a list of five things for which you are grateful. If you keep this gratitude journal every day, it will have a cumulative effect on your keeping a positive outlook.

The second tool’s importance cannot be understated. No matter how much you have on your plate at any given time, it is important that you take the time to play. Whether this is a hobby such as painting or an activity such as playing video games, make a point of scheduling play time for yourself at least two to three times a week. This will help you to balance out all the stress you have in your life.

Dr. Akindotun Merino is a Professor of Psychology, CEO of Jars Group and Mental Health Commissioner in California. Feel free to share your successes and challenges:

Prof. Akindotun Merino
Instagram: @drakinmerino 

Twitter: @drakindotun


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Mental Health

Building And Reinforcing Teams 2 (15)



Building And Reinforcing Teams (14)

By Akindotun Merino
Often you may want to give team members a break from working on their normal projects to meet as a team and improve team morale or functioning. Sometimes getting a team together for a meeting or a team building activity can actually be an exercise in futility. In order to use meetings and team building exercises effectively, it is helpful to have specific goals in mind, to identify those goals to your team members, and to follow up. For example, doing a trust building exercise after a time when team members were at each other’s throats is helpful, but if you only do the trust building exercise the one time, after a while team members may forget the point or lose the benefits they gained from engaging in the exercise the one time. When planning a meeting, for instance, identify why the meeting is necessary and plan an agenda to keep the meeting organized. Sometimes the necessity is quite simple. For example, scheduling time for team members to play together can help them to recharge after a particularly grueling project. It can also help them build more of a rapport with each other. Having specific goals for an activity does not preclude having an activity achieve multiple goals.

When planning team-building exercises, make sure that you don’t undermine your attempt to improve your team. Here are some suggestions of what to avoid in team building:

  • Make sure that your team-building goals are relevant to your team’s needs, so that they are worth taking regular time away from other work to improve.
  • Make sure that your team-building activities are not simply one-time affairs; but that they are consistently worked on to reinforce your goal for the exercise.
  • While athletics can be fun for many employees, they can also be destructive towards building team morale, especially if they are focused simply on competition and winning.
  • If you use team-building exercises, try to incorporate them more frequently than once or twice a year. Incorporating these exercises monthly or weekly helps to reinforce your goals.

If you cannot lead yourself effectively than you will never be able to get others to follow you. The most important habit that effective people can have, whether they lead others or not, is to be proactive. Think of proactive as the opposite of reactive. Instead of having the world act upon you, you take action to make yourself into the kind of leader anyone would follow.

If you have been working on your mission statement and identifying your core values, this question is probably not too difficult to answer. If you understand what you value in both yourself and in others, then you can work at shaping yourself into that kind of leader. Keep in mind that developing into the kind of leader that you would follow involves constantly re-assessing where you are at in terms of your values, your goals, and your overall mission. The further you go down the path of leadership, the more necessary it becomes to refine your skills and improve yourself. This requires both detachment and self-honesty. Being detached means that you are able to dispassionately observe where you are strong and where you are weak. Self-honesty is the capacity to identify personal strengths and weaknesses.

READ ALSO: Building And Reinforcing Teams (14)

In order to be an effective employee, an effective leader, and an effective person, you must have the capacity to reflect and be aware of yourself. Being self-aware involves multiple dimensions of the self. Taking care of physical needs through exercise and maintaining a good diet are factors in being aware of your physical self. Disciplining your mind through meditation that allows you to manage your emotions effectively is an example of developing your emotional and psychological awareness. You also want to have a good idea of the big picture. Are you satisfied with where you are and where you are going? Imagine once again that you are at your funeral. How would you imagine the things people have to say about you would square with your life’s goals and your mission statement?

Self-improvement is a long term game, but as you work continuously on improving yourself, it is important to keep certain pitfalls in mind.

  • Navel gazing can occur when you become overly focused on yourself. This means that you become self-absorbed and self-centered.
  • Another pitfall of working to improve yourself constantly is that you can become overly convinced of your own self-importance.
  • Finally, if you are always working to improve yourself, you may find that you have gotten stuck in this sense that you are never good enough. A better way to frame this is to think that where you are is always good, but that there is also always room for improvement.

Dr. Akindotun Merino is a Professor of Psychology, CEO of Jars Group and Mental Health Commissioner in California. Feel free to share your successes and challenges:

Prof. Akindotun Merino
Instagram: @drakinmerino 

Twitter: @drakindotun


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Mental Health

Building And Reinforcing Teams (14)



Building And Reinforcing Teams (14)

By Akindotun Merino
Teams don’t immediately come together and experience success overnight. In fact, it takes a good leader to work at turning a group of people into an effective team. This module explores the various aspects of building and improving your team.

One of the most important activities that you will need to engage in as a leader is constantly assessing the state of your team, each individual employee, and yourself. Before you can put employees in positions to succeed, you have to have a good idea of what their strengths and weaknesses are. Here are some guidelines for how to assess team and team member strengths and weaknesses:

Include other team-members in the assessment process. Allow each member of the team a chance to identify both his or her and other team members’ strengths and weaknesses. Ideally, this can be done privately so that no team-member develops resentment towards another for perceived unwarranted criticism. This also allows you to compare your assessment with others.

READ ALSO: Trusting Your Team 2 (12)

When an employee or the entire team experiences a failure or a success, try to identify why this came about, and who was most responsible. In the case of failure, identifying the responsible person is not about casting blame, but it is about identifying what went wrong, so you know where and how to improve. When you are analyzing a success, however, it is good to give credit when someone (other than yourself) was particularly instrumental in that success.

Determine how consistently an employee performs in a given role. If that employee is consistently unsuccessful, try to find another opportunity and role for that employee to be successful. Identify the skills necessary for success in certain roles, and when an employee is consistently successful in a role, note these skills as part of that employee’s skill set. If an employee fails to perform consistently, you may also identify these skills as weaknesses in that particular employee.

Observe employees when they act alone or outside of the team structure in order to determine how their strengths and weaknesses might change in different contexts. Perhaps it is not a lack of a particular skill that is the weakness, but an inability to apply that skill in a team setting, or vice versa.

Dr. Meredith Belbin identifies nine team roles that can help make up a balanced and effective team.

The Plant. The plant is the highly creative and unconventional member of a team. They tend to be strong in thinking outside the box but their primary weakness is a tendency to be forgetful.

The Monitor Evaluator (ME). This person is good at providing a logical and dispassionate view of the range of decisions before a team. They tend to have difficulties with being overly critical and slow-moving.

READ ALSO: Trusting Your Team 3 (13)

The Coordinator (CO). This employee (often it will be you) helps the team to focus on goals and to delegate work effectively. They tend to either over-delegate or under-delegate and end up micromanaging.

The Resource Investigator (RI). This employee will tend to understand how your team’s work can best translate to the rest of the world. They will be good at understanding the competition and developing connections with others outside and inside the team framework, but they can have difficulties with following up on or getting in-depth information.

The Implementer. This role involves someone who is good at taking theory and putting it into practice. They try to find strategies on how to make an idea work in the most efficient manner. Implementers have difficulty considering alternative approaches and may be slow to give up on a favored idea.

Completer-Finishers. These team members excel at the end of a task. They make sure everything is functioning ideally. These employees act as a kind of quality control. Their strength, having high standards, can also be their weakness, in that they tend to be perfectionists.

Team workers (TW). These employees are really good at smoothing over the tensions and difficulties that come up when people are working hard on creative endeavors. They excel at working and playing with others, but they can be indecisive when it comes time to make team decisions about the best course of action.

Shapers. These employees act as a kind of engine for the team. They can effectively get others going and create momentum. Typically shapers are highly driven and enthusiastic individuals. Their weakness tends to be being overly aggressive and temperamental in their desire to get the team’s work done.

The Specialist. The specialist of the group might only know how to do one thing, but she or he is an expert at it. Their focus is narrow and in-depth, which can be both their strength and their weakness.

An ideal team will be balanced with all nine roles being expressed. Since many teams are smaller than nine people, you may find that different team members excel at multiple roles. When you identify a key strength in one of your employees, for example, an employee who is highly energetic, then you can help them fulfill one or more roles on your team. The energetic employee for example might be good at being a shaper as well as being a resource investigator. Someone who is highly critical can be either a completer finisher or a monitor evaluator or both.

Dr. Akindotun Merino is a Professor of Psychology, CEO of Jars Group and Mental Health Commissioner in California. Feel free to share your successes and challenges:

Prof. Akindotun Merino
Instagram: @drakinmerino 

Twitter: @drakindotun


Read more authentic news on our social media platforms

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