The Violence-Prone Workplace
A New Approach to Dealing with Hostile, Threatening, and Uncivil Behavior
Almost every week reports of violence erupting in the workplace make headlines. Contrary to popular opinion, such incidents are not random and senseless but, according to Richard V. Denenberg and Mark Braverman, typically result from conflict that has been allowed to fester. Combining the insights of both crisis management and dispute resolution, their book presents a comprehensive look at the problem of violence on the job, including ways of preventing it.
Rather than focusing on the supposedly "lethal" or dysfunctional employee as the source of danger, Denenberg and Braverman point to the dysfunctional workplace as the problem. They describe underlying factors in the workplace which can foster extreme behavior and prevent an effective response. Calling for early intervention in situations that could result in violence, the authors suggest specific techniques for reducing the risk that an office, plant, or school will suffer crises arising from threats or a climate of hostility.
At the heart of the book are fourteen vivid examples of real-life incidents involving violence, a threat of violence, or a perception that such a threat was made. They include instances in which domestic violence spilled over into the workplace, difficulties caused by racial and ethnic tension, and explosive behavior in response to common workplace occurrences such as downsizing or a change in corporate culture. Each example is followed by an analysis of the response to the actual or potential danger, indicating where mistakes were made because of poor information, bad judgment, absence of a clear policy, lack of consensus, or even irrational fear.
An extensive appendix provides government guidelines and sample policies intended to serve as templates for violence-prevention plans. Both the examples and sample policies allow organizations to benefit from the experience of others and avoid common mistakes.