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Srini Katta

Preventing the violence in the workplace

Posted by Srini Katta in srini.katta3 on Apr 18, 2011 6:40:35 AM

iServiceGlobe is dedicated to providing solutions to better enable your company reach prospects, increase sales, and provide quality customer service.  Typically, our blog focuses on technology based solutions that will help companies achieve this goal.  Today I am going to take a bit of a departure from my typical focus on CRM and give some attention to a completely different issue within the workplace in general and SAP Project in particular.  Most SAP Projects are implemented with a combination of internal workforce and external consultants.  The project team  memebers has  vast diffrences in the background and culture , but a common goal of making SAP Project a success.  The  relevance of project team harmony is very important for  project success. Please remember the project is as good as it is designed, configured and deployed. The single most important success factor of any SAP Project is  the project team with optimal harmony and synchronization. It is more important in the current times as SAP Projects typically have resources with different social and cultural values and backgrounds as the SAP workforce is more global than before. In this context it is important to discuss the factors that affect the general work environment and the corrective measures. We are often so busy with our daily job related tasks and functions that it is easy to overlook other core aspects of our work lives. Equally as important as our job functions is maintaining the environment in which we work in on a daily basis.  For example, blatant and subtle practices of discrimination and sexual harassment are obvious threats to the work environment that threaten to derail any company’s growth and productivity.  A less obvious threat to the work environment, and my area of focus for today, is workplace violence.     

When we think of “violence,” most of us conjure up images of disputes in the streets, domestic violence, religious intolerance and war.  We rarely think of violence in the workplace.   Interestingly enough, however, research suggests that most have us have or will experience violence in the workplace at some point in our careers. 

According to OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) of the US Department of Labor, workplace violence is a serious health and safety issue.  In fact, homicide is the fourth leading cause of fatal occupational injury in the United States.  Though “going postal” has taken upon a humorous connotation in many circles, the term initially arose from some very serious occurrences of workplace violence.

Companies could potentially limit these tragic occurrences of violence if we learn to identify the early signs of such seeds being planted in the workplace.  Though a majority of countries have legislation to address workplace violence and prevention, it falls short of addressing psychological violence or trauma common at the workplace.   Such occurrences, while often very subtle, often plant seeds that threaten to destroy the workplace environment and create a potential for a permanently damaged workforce.

Psychological Violence at the Workplace

Workplace violence takes many forms.  Culturally, we look at “bullying” as a problem in adolescence that starts and finishes in school.  Unfortunately, this is not the case.  In many companies, workplace violence takes place daily in the form of bullying.

As executives, directors, managers, employees, etc., it is important for us to make a collective effort to address the issue of this psychological form of violence.  Most of us have probably witnesses such bullying and chalked it up to an overly harsh manager or boss.  “You are such a loser,” “You are such a tool,” etc.  Statements such as these made to a subordinate should be taken seriously and addressed at their onset rather than wait for such occurrences to bubble over into a full spectrum of violence.

Often this bullying is a result of some very practical issues should be addressed at their first sign.  For example,

The boss wanted a “top gun” for the role, however, because of budget limitations, he was forced to bring on a new hire that is ramping up a bit too slowly.  As a result, the boss starts to feel impatient as project deadlines approach and the likelihood of delays increase.  The subordinate ends up bearing the brunt of his frustration.   In this scenario, both the boss and the subordinate are both subjected to mental stress and agony that should be addressed at its first signs.

This example merely scratches the surface of the mountain of workplace violence scenarios.  Many complex situations today are affecting the workforce’s mental and emotional balance on a daily basis.

How to Avoid Workplace Violence

So, what are some tangible steps that we can do in order to minimize the occurrence of workplace violence?  Below are ten things that I think all of us can start doing right away. 

1)      Every one of us should take the responsibility to find common

         ground with our fellow employees

2)      Communication: Have a two-way communication process early on

         when working with a new boss or new employee. The

         communication channel and medium should allow open,

         transparent and honest flow of information.  Both parties should

         express their expectations and discuss what each could do to

         ensure success.

3)      There is nothing wrong with a “save my skin” attitude, however,

         it should be used as a last resort to document concerns and

         apprehensions.

4)      E-mail is a boon and curse. The use of emails to build the record

         of concerns should be used as a last means and not the first

         means.

5)      Ensure that every team member constantly asks the question,

         “how can we help each other to be successful?”

6)      Mutual respect is the most important factor that one must

         remember even in the toughest or roughest situations.

7)      Ultimately, there are no bad people but people who are a bad fit

         for a particular organization.  These issues should be addressed,

         candidly, by both the boss and the subordinate. This could ensure

         that you are able to move the employee into a role that is better

         fit for them or help the employee roll out of the company in a

         more amicable separation.

8)      While not quitting is a strong ethos and shows determination,

         remember to choose your battles and realize that sometimes

         quitting may be the best option when there is no value in

         continuing to fight.

9)      One should choose a career that they are passionate about it vs.

         choosing a career based on compensation.  Choosing a career

         that one is passionate about will eventually lead to big payoff.   

10)  Since it requires a large commitment of time, finance and

       emotional stress, legal proceedings should be the last resort to

       consider when attempting to resolve workplace violence.

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