Someone go get Stanley! – Hostile Work Environment Part 2

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In case you don’t know, I typically have some crazy titles for my blog.  This one here is no exception, but hopefully I tie it up in a nice little bow and it makes sense.  This is my second of three blogs about hostile events in the workplace, and what you can do to keep yourself safe.
In my first, called “Everybody has a Tom”, we looked at pre incident indicators and what to look for to prevent a situation or behavior from becoming hostile.  But what if it is a pre planned event, that in itself can be very hostile in nature.  I’m speaking about the termination of an employee.
A termination is kind of like deep frying a turkey.  If done correctly, it can be a painless.  However this takes someone skilled at doing it.  Get the wrong dum dum that just throws a frozen bird into a vat of hot oil, and you end up with a speed dial to your homeowner’s insurance company and many fewer friends. So let’s take a look at the right, and wrong way to fire someone.
First, light the burner to a medium – high……woops! Got stuck on the turkey there for a second.  Let’s try this again.
When letting an employee go, first take into account the reasons for separation.  Laying a seasonal employee off is vastly different than letting an employee go because they sold trade secret to a competitor, or made a death threat to a manager.  Once you have all the facts, you can get a reasonable sense of what the individual’s state of mind will be.  If you are not given all the facts, you are well within your rights to ask, and voice your objections if none are given.  You should absolutely know what you are walking into.
Second, if there is a chance the soon to be former employee may become agitated, argumentative, or hostile, position yourself correctly in the room.  A board or conference room offers a much better setting than your office.  In a board or conference room, it is neutral territory, and you can choose the seating arrangement.  No reason for the soon to be fired to see pictures of your family, dogs, boat, cars, etc…. and to be remembered of what they could lose without income.  Ensure that you are positioned between the individual and the exit, not the other way around.  You always want to give yourself a means of escape, should things turn bad.
Lastly, have backup.  Whether it is a manager, colleague, or internal / contracted security, have someone ready to help you out, if there is even the slightest hint that it could go bad.  The title of this blog comes from this tip specifically.  Many times, I have sat in an empty office or conference room within eyesight of an individual that is being terminated.
The joke is that this client came up with a really crafty way to let me know they were in trouble.  They would say “HEY CAN SOMEONE GET STANLEY FOR ME?!?” , and upon hearing this, I was to rush in to save the day.  Realistically, that goes out the window, and the sound of furniture being thrown or that same individual yelling “HELP!” is usually my cue.  But, hey, code words are cool too.
So that’s it for part two of our three part series.  I won’t give away what the third part is, but let’s just say you’ll love it if you’re a fan of Mythbusters!
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