Felix Nater on workplace violence

Episode #25 – Keeping Employees Safe from Workplace Violence

In this episode of Relationships at Work, Russel chats with workplace violence prevention advisor and consultant Felix Nater on the impacts of violence and non-violent behaviour in the workplace, its impact on culture and steps to avoid it.

A few reasons he is awesome – he is the President and Owner of Nater Associates, Ltd. a human resource security management consulting practice, and has more than three decades of federal law enforcement, investigative, program management and security experience as a United States Postal Inspector, Special Investigator and Postal Police Officer. He is a retired Army Reserve Sergeant Major. And his expertise has led to appearances on CNN, New York One, ABC Business News, Channel 9, Long Island News, History Channel and more.

Connect with Felix on his platforms:

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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The definition of workplace violence
  • How to approach it in your organization before it erupts
  • The single most important ingredient in an organization to prevent violence
  • How small businesses aren’t immune to violence
  • What gets in the way of properly understanding the problem
  • The role of empathy and mental health

“Something’s wrong with leadership, something is wrong with management. Something is wrong with their understanding of what an ounce of prevention is all about in terms of commitment to safety and security, and [as an] investment in safety and security of people’s well-being while they’re with you.”

Felix Nater

FULL TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW

Russel Lolacher
On the show today we have Felix Nater, and here is why he’s awesome. He’s a workplace violence prevention advisor and consultant and the president of owner of Nater Associates Ltd., and that is a human resources security management consulting practice. Felix Well, he’s had three decades plus we put a plus in there of federal law enforcement, investigative program management and security experience as, as the United States Postal Inspector special investigator and postal police officer. He’s also a retired Army Reserve Sergeant Major. He is got a lot of knowledge and a lot to talk about. And I’m not the only one that’s been interested to hear what he has to say. He’s appeared on CNN, New York One, ABC Business News, Channel Nine, Long Island News, History Channel, the man has words and things to share, and I’m excited to have him on the show. Hello, Felix.

Felix Nater
Hello Russel, you really, really build me? I’ve done Sure. Thank you.

Russel Lolacher
Absolutely, It’s a good launching pad to start the conversation.

Felix Nater
It’s sure sounds like it. I hope I can deliver.

Russel Lolacher
Of course, of course. Now, Felix, I’m so interested in our topic today of violence in the workplace. But first, I want to I want to sort of tap into your experience personally, when it comes to the employee experience and workplace culture. What’s your best or worst one or the other sir, employee experience you’ve had?

Felix Nater
I’m going to answer it this way by saying I gotcha. It’s a combination of both. It was a young lady who was a victim of a infatuation in the workplace situation, that escalated to a point of eminent threat of bodily harm. And on the day that we were authorized to enter the the person’s premises to place them under arrest for the threats made. We entered his apartment, and on the kitchen table, were a bunch of candles, almost like an effigy, and then an artist’s portrayal or rendition on the wall of the young lady, and he holding hands ascending to heaven. We interviewed him, he immediately admitted that the next stage of his intentions was to take out the young lady. And since she didn’t want to be hid her, his his boy girlfriend, he was going to end her life and his life and live that out in heaven. So that’s the best and worst thing that we were able to prevent that from happening. And the worst scenario that I’ve ever experienced in my Postal Inspector career.

Russel Lolacher
How does that impact you as someone on the outside looking in at someone who’s reacting such in a way? I mean, that’s at the end of the day, that is your employee experience. That is, you know, how does that impact you personally like taking taking that home,

Felix Nater
I never looked at it from the perspective of it being my employee experience, Russel, but you hit the nail on the head. So from that point on, I emphasized the need for me to be responsive to every single employee complaint, or situation that involves a threat, intimidation, verbal situation, in order to prevent the escalation, and to swiftly get at the root cause of the problem. So it impacted me from the standpoint of really assuming the importance of being proactive, and responsive in situations of that kind.

Russel Lolacher
I can’t imagine how much how, I guess, almost scared, it would impact you to know that it can get that bad. And you can go that far, that it would motivate you to be more dedicated to your work. Just out of fear of this could actually happen.

Felix Nater
Yes. And the learning extraction that I shared with my audiences, and then my consulting and advisory services, is you want to be able to take a witness stand, and never have to fabricate or lie about your reporting, or your observations or the decisions that you made. And by being responsive and proactive and learning from those experiences, you have no reason to lie. If your intentions were honorable, and you have no reason to be deceptive if the reporting was factual. So I use those those experiences to share with my clients of the benefit to be derived by implementing programs by being proactive, by being responsive by being empathetic and developing training programs that support policies, plans and procedures to minimize risk and to educate the entire workforce. Not just me at the low level, but up and down the organization.

Russel Lolacher
And I have so many questions about that. But first, I want to start with the fact that we’re even having this conversation because when I knew we were going to talk about it, I was I’ll be honest, it’s been an interesting struggle for me and we sort of talked about this before the podcast started recording which was this is a problem I’m like, I’m this Canadian guy, you’re this American guy. And we’re having this conversation about violence in the workplace. Felix does this. I mean, it must happen enough, you have a full time job doing this. First, let’s maybe define what workplace violence is because I know where my mind goes. But I want sort of an idea of what we’re even talking about.

Felix Nater
It’s always good to frame the the initiative. So I go by the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the United States Department of Labor) definitions of workplace violence, fatal or non fatal violence and non violence. So non violence, or verbal abuse, name calling harassment, whether it’s sexual, or, or things you do to annoy someone, intimidation, threats, shoving, pushing, and kicking and fighting. Those are all non non fatal, also described as violence. And then you have the violence fatal, which involves some type of a weapon, or some type of an instrument that results in extreme physical injury and ensuing death results.

Russel Lolacher
What is the state of workplace violence? today? I’m assuming you’re talking about it from an American standpoint to.

Felix Nater
Yes, yes, it’s a it’s a trickling out of our boundaries affecting the rest of the world. But I’ll just focus in on the United States of America in terms of how I look at it and how I interpret what I see happening. So there are two perspectives. There’s, I call it the informed and the misinformed trying to educate the uninformed. And by that, I mean, it’s everybody assumes that they know what workplace violence is and what workplace violence prevention is. But when you ask corporations, how many have formal workplace violence prevention programs in place? About 30%? You know, is the number is the average norm of responses you get on surveys since night since 2006, for that matter, so they’re really really isn’t a devoted commitment or investments in workplace violence. So why is it an occurrence? This is an anomaly that me through the experiences that I have gotten it over the years that I’ve discovered, and it isn’t necessarily something that you’ll find anywhere written. It’s a theoretical experiments based assessment, and that is, if you are walking down a city street, and you bump someone’s elbow, the natural responses, excuse me, I’m sorry. Right in the workplace. If I do that, the natural responses, you better not do that again. Why? Because there are rules and barriers and boundaries that prohibit the altercation from escalating and so therefore, if it escalates, even though I was the aggressor, in my response in my presentation, agitating the victim who accidentally bumped into me after I became the aggressor, once the victim crosses the line of civility, the aggressor claims assault, the aggressor claims battery, the aggressor, the aggressor claims he was harassed, threatened and intimidated. So you see the complexities of it, the rules in the workplace actually creates the bully syndrome actually creates the problem that results in the continuing unresolved unabated conditions that exist, because they use the system to perpetuate their not existing problem, or the problems that they created, or the scenario that could have been easily been resolved through by people sitting across the table discussing the differences. So it’s a complex mess, in a complicated situation, that becomes needlessly provoked by people who are playing games in an environment where union activity or management rules conflict, and that work in an agreeable manner to resolve issues.

Russel Lolacher
Is there also resistance from organizations to even label it some violence, because as you’re saying, some of this is non violence. So when I hear violence in the workplace, I’m picturing somebody punching somebody else in the face. But from your description, it can be very non violent and verbal, or as you’re talking, just being bumped into at work. So is there some organizations that might be resistance going, we don’t need things in place because it’s not to the level of MMA style.

Felix Nater
The HR community for whatever reasons they decided. They like to sugarcoat the problem. They portray with people like me as people that are desirous of creating more problems, developing more work that doesn’t need to be developed. And so they focus in on the sugarcoated nice and easy approach, which is a 10 question survey that employees never ever respond to, honestly, because they know where it’s going into a file cabinet in olden days or into The database in modern days, so there is no genuine interest in that in that community, though sincere about tamp, tampering it down through zero tolerance, which I don’t really called workplace violence prevention. I call that the beginning of more problems because zero tolerance is a legal structure that restricts management’s in what they can do and can’t do without they’re using creativity and innovation and pursuing the resolution. So until we can overcome those barriers, and HR totally, totally believes it’s not about the printing, and the dissemination of policies and plans and procedures. It’s about the education. And it’s about the willingness and earnestness if you would make it a new word, to convey a sense of compatibility in a workplace risk, regardless of what transpired. We’re interested in the incident. And the fact is that contributed to the incident, not interested in disciplining the persons that were involved in the incident without first attaining all of the facts and circumstances. So I blame I blame them not maliciously, but because they’re afraid of bringing someone in like me, they rather have a should a sugar coated, like minded individual who thinks like them, who responds to situations like them, I’m not like them. At 26 years as the United States Postal Inspector, I worked in an environment where the the objective was solutions. We don’t care where the pain falls, we just want solutions and identification of contributing factors, what are the risks, elimination of the risks, and then the introduction of approaches that reduce risk? So I’m used to that environment, I should have coded my approach in the beginning, I’m not sugarcoating it anymore. Because people are dying, people do not want to come to work anymore. Because of toxic environments. People are tired of being intimidated. People are tired of being bullied and harassed by their supervisors, by co workers. People are tired of reporting incidents, and it’s falls into a wastepaper basket that seems to be ignited with fire the minute the complaint gets into the, into the file system. So you can understand the agitation and the emotion and these people who don’t want to come to a traditional workplace because they’re not receiving any value through their daily interactions with one another or with management.

Russel Lolacher
Is there any industries or I’m just trying to think of where this might happen more, whether it’s frontline C suite, particular industries? Is there? Does it lean a particular way? Or is it just a problem across the board.

Felix Nater
So with with the with the fatal aspects of recording information, there’s data to say policing, taxi cab drivers, truckers, and people who deal with the public. Like 7-11 type stores are exposed to violence from non employees. in those in those environments, the risk of fatality or engaging in violent activities are much higher in the workplace. While OSHA reports about 2 million annually of such incidents, I think from from my engagement, in my experience over the last 20 years in the corporate world, I think that number is much, much higher. And I’ll tell you why I really believe that number is much, much higher, they suppress the data. It’s a negative impact and a negative image reflection on the organization. So they suppress the data, the data doesn’t get properly reported. It doesn’t get properly documented employees do not want to have a bullseye on their chest. So rather than reporting it, they internalize the experience and the and the exposure rather than becoming victims of the the perpetrators, or management. So they internalize it and they don’t report it. And then you’ve got organizations that don’t understand that there are two components to their work that deal with harassment. There’s Title Seven, which is discrimination in the workplace, that involves a litany of similar non fatal behaviors that fall under workplace violence. So the HR professional who doesn’t listen to the guy like me, who was involved in the creation of ideas and thoughts and innovative approaches to violence prevention, who sees, hey, you got all the stuff. That’s, that’s non fatal. That’s described by OSHA under your Title Seven regarding employee harassment and intimidation by supervisors, and the deprivation of opportunities for success and all that. But the same behaviors are also contributory on the workplace violence, but only a little line that says anyone who engages in appropriate behavior will be dealt with appropriately discipline, if not discipline, they will be in addition to discipline, rather, they will be fired and eventually prosecuted. So there is confusion in the HR community that needs to be resolved, not necessarily from an antagonistic perception of my approach, but from a partnership, hiring a consultant to work with you to uncover and unravel the issues that are most near and dear to you that you may not understand.

Russel Lolacher
So where do you start, Felix? First, it sounds like the organization needs to even understand that they want to acknowledge that there’s a problem. So say that they say that they do say that there is a problem with violence at all the levels that you’ve described, or one or one or a few. Needless to say, what is the first steps they need to take to even go down the path of rectifying these kinds of situations? Is it getting into a we even have a problem?

Felix Nater
It’s the the admission, rather than the omission. It’s the admission of the possibility and the potential of something happening. And because of your arrogance, you never focus on the eventuality and something did happen. Now you’re on the witness stand humming and humming and humming are responses to questions that should have been answered before you got to that point. So I always say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure wrestle. You know, you’re a business leader. So in those positions of HR director, facility director, safety director, security director, you should be thinking not in a silo fashion, but in a horizontal fashion, how you integrate, that’s my process, you know, integration, collaboration, coordination, communication, training, leadership and execution, you know, how do you as a as a unit come together and share your knowledge so that we can collaborate in a way where the organization becomes more successful, and in tune with the realities that they’re about to face? When there’s a going, I hate to say this postal, but I can because I’m a former postal inspector with good intentions. In a situation where you know, there’s a problem. But rather than addressing the problem and identifying the contributing members to that problem, you bury the problem, you issue a separation or termination notice to the employee who created the depression of being the problem employee, he or she leaves angrily. And do you think the problems resolved No, the workforce knows that due diligence was not applied, the workforce knows that you have no credibility, the workforce knows that you just put your rub everything, you swept everything under the carpet, and you really didn’t solve anything you left it for us to deal with.

Russel Lolacher
And I love that you mentioned the impacts to workplace culture. What are the impacts? I just want to dig into that a little bit more as people think they’re isolated incidents, oh, this happened on that floor to those two people we’ve quote unquote, dealt with it. What are the ripples in the pond?

Felix Nater
So if you look at it the way I do from a tangible and from an intangible point of view, the the tangibles are, the things that I know can be measured, loss production, loss, workforce, workplace efficiencies, increase in safety, reduction in in productivity from the standpoint of employees who don’t want to come to work, employees will flat Hall file injury compensation claims and claim stress as a result of the exposure to the harassment, the intimidation, the bullying. Employees, who will spend so much time out of work, that the last time at work directly impacts production performance, the morale and attitude of co workers who know management isn’t doing enough to take care of that their co workers problems. And so the coworker now experiences angst and resentment and ostracization from the coworkers who know they’re not the problem. But but but also know nothing is being done. And the workload now becomes vivid and their responsibility. So there’s an organizational lack of identification of metrics that exists that they will push back on and say to me, it’s hard to quantify. And my question to them is, how did you become who you are as a director, or vice president? If you can’t quantify that people make a difference in the area of performance, production and generous generation of results? How can you tell me you cannot come up with metrics from an intangible perspective, psychological psychologically, I’m traumatized. You know, I can’t understand why management who is responsible for providing for a safe and secure workplace for me, can’t do that. I’m afraid to come to work because every time I come to work, I’m being victimized and harassed. And when I report it, they want to know where my witnesses, no one saw an investigation to at least begin a process that identifies or controvert my complaint. So psychologic I bear this trauma. I take this, this trauma that I experienced that is a known reality of my workplace experience is home to my family. My husband has to hear my wife has to hear my children have to hear it at the dinner table. And a real life story husband says to the spouse, Honey, I’ve heard this for a year. If you don’t resolve it, I’m gonna go in and take care of it. as myself, invariably, family members take the gauntlet upon the upon the shoulders because of the love they have for one another to find out what is going on. So it’s a tangible impact that can be measured through metrics that is an intangible that also can be measured, but that adversely impacts the morale. The spirits call it the health, the well being of the employee, who becomes lackluster and unproductive.

Russel Lolacher
That seems like the this is the worst case scenario here are, as I said, all the ripples in the pond and the impacts. So to rewind it, say, to the early days, or maybe a couple of years in for an organization, where is the CEO, the head of the organization? What are the red flags? What are the signs that they should be looking for? That this is something that’s starting to impact the organization or something they need to put protocols in place for?

Felix Nater
That’s That’s a deep question. So I’ll begin way out here in terms of where the ultimate burden of responsibility and accountability should begin at the CEO level. But it’s hard for that poor gal or poor guy to make the best decisions possible when they’re under a mushroom cloud and not being given the facts not being updated and kept informed, not not briefed on what they’re need to know on, so that he can make or she can make the appropriate decisions in allocating resources, adjusting budgets, showing some commitment and some investment in his concerns for the problem. From from that’s the warning signs, red flags that I would submit to you, the CEO needs to start driving and asking tough questions like, Hey, are we next in this embattled arena called workplace violence? How come I don’t get these monthly or quarterly reports that are unadulterated, you know, that are factual that are honest, and that reflect what is happening? Let me see a surveys of not not culture surveys, let me see a survey that says workplace violence prevention assessment survey, so that the employee connects with their realities to your desired expectations, so that the answers or questions are appropriate and germane and relative, from an employee perspective, this all this talk about warning signs really, really irked me. And I do this as part of my my learning and dialogue and communications and training experiences, whether whether the audience is 30 or 300, I’ll say okay, take a look at that slide. These are all the warning signs, and they’ll say, loss of a loved one. Financial shortages, not able to pay bills, medical problems, argumentative, combative, disagreeable. And I’ll say to the audience, just just by looking at this, how many of those characteristics do you believe you feel apply to you? And all the hands go up? It is it the warning signs alone, that should trigger an interest? It’s a behaviors. It’s the confrontational behavior that goes along with the warning signs. So if I am angry, because the guy next to me gets a promotion, and I verbalize that anger, I can verbalize it all I want. It’s when I crossed the line of civility, and started doing things that are caustic and toxic, like threatening, like engaging in inappropriate conduct such as pushing and shoving, like being belligerent and combative, not following instructions, sabotaging property, those are visible signs that can begin denoting to you that there’s something wrong as a warning sign that would give you the prerogative to go in and sit down with Felix and say, How can I help you. But we dismiss these because the employee witnesses who see their co workers going through a bad marriage, or a personal family issue, are not going to proverbial us reference, particularly out of New York, drop a dime on my coworker, because heck, any one of those warning signs could apply to me, depending upon what side of the bed I wake up on. It’s just how consistent and how engaging the individual who might be emitting or displaying those warning signs becomes, as he takes on belligerent combative and argumentative argumentative styles, that elevate to a point of concern.

Russel Lolacher
You’ve been doing this for a while Felix, do you feel that it has increased this this the any level of the violence in the workplace has increased? Or is it about the same as been about the same for a while?

Felix Nater
So I really don’t know from it from a nonfatal perspective. If the number of complaints have risen, because then number that we see every year is around 2 million that OSHA puts out annually. But I can also say that if that number is 2 million, there’s a whole lot that under the surface that’s not being reported. However, because we get media attention, and local community news reporting two incidents of violence involving death, or fatality, or, or, or fatal attack in the workplaces, those become more prominent and we become aware of them. Yes, those ins those types of incidents involving fatalities in the workplace are going up. More so than they’ve been in previous years. Although FBI data seems to disagree with that number, and they do a great job of tracking it and saying, workplace violence really is leveling off what you hear more of the violent incidents involving the fatalities in workplaces, involving multiple deaths, multiple that’s where someone with a automatic type of weapon comes in, and not only shoots one person, but shoots like in the, in the Buffalo situation 10. And another situation a couple of days ago, 14 1516. So those kinds of incidents are in the increase, but I can’t really, factually, other than what we’re getting from OSHA tell you factually, just what’s happening in workplaces, because their employees always discouraged from reporting outside of their environments. But we know they report it to the doctors, they’re lawyers, they’re their pastors and their family members. And to a local police before they report it internally.

Russel Lolacher
You’ve jumped into it a few times and out of it, which is violence in the workplace. But it’s not just employees there the violence of say, you mentioned, say a taxi driver, and they have a violence of one of their customers. I assume it’s treated differently from organizations because one the employee is somebody they’re responsible for, and to a customer. Well, that’s, that’s something we’ll address because it’s not our responsibility. Do you find that?

Felix Nater
Yes, yes, Russel, I find that organizations address the workplace violence prevention initiative. From an employee point of view. The healthcare does a great job in identifying the four categories that OSHA identifies, you know, violence from an employee by an employee violence from an opportunistic criminal, that may engage in a robbery or an assault of an employee who’s outside of their work, their workplace engaged in work activities, a threat from a non spousal from a spousal, or personal intimate relationship, and a customer or client or patient interaction with an employee. So those four categories are rarely seen on a policy that gets supported by a plan procedures and training. It’s always the focus on the employee. And OSHA has recognized this and has said, your policies should be preventive oriented, not reactively oriented. In other words, let’s give them examples of what each category is so that in the hearts and minds of their good intentions, it when they’re victims, they know what to report when they become a victim and recognize their victimization. When you create an environment where if spouses who are having issues and one of them is your employee, created empathetic, and that’s a word that I use quite frequently, because it doesn’t doesn’t exist in the leadership community, it seems that way. Create an empathetic environment where you can, you can offer services to the employee who might be a victim of a caustic, marital situation, or family life situation, because they’re not immune from that person coming in the back door front door, or an unsecure door coming in and exacting their vengeance on their spouses. And on the way there are others that might be on in their way. So the risks are huge, when they don’t know what to do. And so today, Russell, it kind of annoys me the focus is on this thing called active shooter. Well, from a workplace standpoint, that active shooter was your employee, or is your employee? How did that elevate to a point that that person became so angry that the natural instinctive response was violence to such an extreme? That tells me something failed, between the hiring and the termination, that create created that caustic feeling in the hearts and minds of that employee to come back in, and exactly a vengeance in that fashion. Something’s wrong with leadership, something is wrong with management, something is wrong with their understanding of what an ounce of prevention is all about, in terms of its commitment to safety and security, and investment in safety and security of people’s well being while they’re with you, so they understand that they want you to come back Go home safely. and come back safely.

Russel Lolacher
So I want you to be magic, Felix, I want you to have close your eyes and envision an organization that’s doing this correctly. What does that look like an organization that embraces that they have a role to play in preventing violence in the workplace? What what what protocols are in place? What processes are in place? What does that look like? I believe

Felix Nater
The, the missing link in the chain of strength, continuity of purpose and success in the execution of a workplace violence prevention program is communication. I believe the lack of communication, and the management, lack of management commitment and investments in ensuring that the word gets out from the top down so that there’s trust, confidence and credibility from the bottom up is missing, I do not believe, and my world, I would like a world where you have someone that has, depending upon the size of your organization, has an appointed duty responsibility of workplace violence prevention manager, or workplace violence prevention coordinator, embedded in your title somehow or another. And then someone that is in areas where they don’t have the luxury of that kind of a person, someone who’s ultimately responsible for it throughout the organization. So that person can be viewed as the direct contact between them and the CEO, when it comes to allocation of resources and budgeting. And an organizational response, not an HR only response or a safety or training, individual response, or a security response, because each have independence and different duties and roles and responsibilities and organizational response aligned with policies, plans, procedures, training, execution and leadership that recognizes what the organization’s objectives are. And that there is an investment based on a process of identifying problems that come to their attention, not haphazardly, not because of favoritism, not because of a standing policy that says we have to invoke zero tolerance because feel it’s close to line of civility, but one that engenders creativity innovation, and that does have like some vision statement, say, we treat you as the most important resource in our organization, Mr. or Miss employees believe that and live that by the demonstration of your interest in their health and welfare that contributes to the success of the organization.

Russel Lolacher
Would you say that this is mostly a medium to large organization problem? Or is it something that also small organizations should be very aware of?

Felix Nater
I think it goes from the small organizations right up to the top. I think every one of them, regardless of the size should have their appropriate response to their Workplace Violence Initiative. small organizations are no less vulnerable than midsize or large organizations. In fact, rustle small organizations make assumptions based upon the family orientation that dismisses rules and barriers and the vernacular is less than full less than professional if you know what I’m referring to. Absolutely immediately right and medium organizations and I’ve worked with many of them well intended earnest desirous of creating the right environments, but but lack the resources and that in that realm, in my experiences have reached out to me to be there, their gap in the in the chain, to help them create that strength in that chain create credibility, confidence and trust. larger organizations have larger organization problems, even though they’re well structured and have well informed well educated individuals to run those programs. Because they’re siloed. They’re not horizontally aligned, to talk to one another as I would recommend monthly around a table to discuss issues regarding threat assessment, and threat management so that from workplace violence prevention perspective, all of the entities in the organization at the at the senior level, are aware and have some sort of understanding of what’s going on what’s being done to ameliorate or mitigate the escalation of the problem. So larger organizations, they mask their their workplace violence behaviors in different fashions under bullying. They call it leadership and managing managing resources, but they’re actually designed to intimidate people keep people in their places. To deny them their desires, because you didn’t do something right for me or I don’t like you. So I’m going to deny you a weekend. That’s tied to a Monday Holiday opportunity for you. So there’s different levels of risk factors and warning signs that exist to different levels of our organizations.

Russel Lolacher
So say somebody’s listening to this podcast, and they’re thinking, Okay, what do I do not right now, because maybe their organization isn’t giving them the full picture. Maybe their HR team is sugarcoating everything. But there is somebody that actually wants change, but they don’t know where to start to, to understand the problem or understand where to even begin. What would you tell that person.

Felix Nater
I think to begin, if you’re hearing me now, I would encourage self assessment of your organization.

Russel Lolacher
I want to ask if you have any scenarios or stories that you can share, obviously, without revealing details of for privacy, but any stories that you remember sharing with a CEO or C-suite, that really changed their mind about how important addressing violence in the workplace is like, almost giving them their AHA moment? Is there anything you can share?

Felix Nater
Yes, this is one that I share all the time, because the HR director is the consummate HR director, and the CEO of that original client moved on to another company. And he he and I are best friends. I know his children and spouse from that experience, productive manager was suddenly having problems at work and was beginning to alienate the workers in the office. Concerned about these reports. The HR director collaborated with the other managers to elicit additional information that she needed to arrive at the best approach, right way of doing it. She wants to understand what was going on, and received glowing feedback about this manager’s past work performance. And this manages contribute contributions to the workplace. And his employee engagement skills were superior, concerned about this positive feedback she was getting about this individual, she decided that she was going to bring him in and not approach it from the the accusatory perspective. But from a we received this, these complaints that I don’t believe, and I wanted to give you an opportunity to respond, discovering, discovering that at home, he was going through some issues and did not know how to cope. And the missus instructed him that he needed to take personal responsibility for his personal condition, and was to seek psychiatric evaluation. Upon seeking psychiatric evaluation, he was issued medication. And while he was on the medication, he performed well. But while off the medication, he had issues in coping and managing his own behavior that rose to a level of concern for the workforce so much, that he began to isolate himself from the office environment. That’s when I was invited to assist them and assess and evaluate to see if I could offer any recommendations emanating from my assessment. On the day that I was supposed to be there, I get a phone call. And it was an urgent phone call. And that was a coworker that normally takes a smoke break on the roof of the building of their office building, went on the roof to take his smoke break. And his friend was on the ledge about to jump. And he talked him off the ledge. And that’s my involvement. Now the good thing about this is that when I got involved and went through the process that I that I used to have to get at the root causes, and come up with the framework of knowledge that would allow me to bring all the parties in and have some big boy and big girl conversations with it all worked out. Well, at the end of the week, when the employee who was sitting across from me and addresses this statement to the HR director. You see if people had spoken to me and understood that I was a human being. And it was thoughtful and caring enough like Mr. Nadler has been these past several days. Maybe we would never be in this situation where I’m telling him everything that I could have told my immediate vice president who didn’t care about asking he only cared about excusing so bad situation that ended in the positive situation. He was separated from the organization voluntarily giving a nice financial package we had I’ve maintained contact over the years, he’s doing exceedingly well. And so I’m very, very happy. I do not share that with my friend, the HR director or my friend, the CEO, I just really say, when they asked me, he’s doing fine. And thank you for having invited me and to be a part of that solution.

Russel Lolacher
Thank you so much, Felix, really appreciate that if we say violence in the workplace, but I mean, really to understand it from the human level that these are people having challenges and problems. And it’s what we can control of how we react to it and address things that we need to really pay attention to. That’s right.

Felix Nater
So it’s really physical violence and psychological violence. Right? When you think about it, you know, a person who comes to work every single day, and is the victim of workplace violence is suffering psychologically because they need their job, wanted a job, enjoy their job. And the minute they reported, that whole world changes, so surely psychological and dramatic.

Russel Lolacher
Thank you for enforcing not reinforcing that. So the last question Felix so we can wrap up our time together. And thank you so much for sharing your brain with me. What’s one simple action people can do right now to improve their relationships at work?

Felix Nater
So I think empathy will answer the question for you being empathetic means being understanding, being thoughtful, being considerate. Take not taking things for granted, not being assumptive. Listening. Empathy is missing from our world today. Leaders have to accept their roles and functions in adjudicating people problems. We are not mental cases. And those of us that are suffering from mental illness are afraid to come forward, because we’re going to be maligned and labeled. But those of us that are suffering from mental health issues are not the violent ones that you see on the news media. We’re the ones who are trying to deal with our situations the best way we can and receive the treatment that we can and deal with our personal lives and employment life, the in the best way we possibly can. So leadership, who understands the importance of empathy, and their administration of their duties and responsibilities.

Russel Lolacher
That’s Felix Nater. He’s a workplace violence prevention advisor and consultant and president and owner of Nater Associates, human resources security management consulting practice. Felix, thank you so much for your time today.

Felix Nater
My pleasure. Russel had me back again. Thank you.

Russel Lolacher
Thank you, sir.

Felix Nater
You bet.

 

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