I love airplanes and flying. For the past 18 years I’ve been an avid skydiver, earning multiple instructional ratings from the United States Parachute Association. I belong to a fairly elite fraternity as a skydiving instructor.My friends in the aviation/skydiving world are very keen to study reports of accidents involving injuries and fatalities, as we can often bring an intimate insight into why the incident happened. This is our consensus: Only very rarely can accidents be attributed to a single misstep or one bad decision. Accidents in our world can almost always be traced back through a chain of failures, mistakes or oversights. When bad things happen, it’s because the chain was not broken along the way.
This same wisdom can easily be applied to incidents of workplace violence. When violence takes place, it’s often at the confluence of multiple factors that have created a perfect storm. Those factors can include poor company policies and practices, the personalities of individual workers, stresses in the personal life of the worker, etc. The primary driver of workplace violence is workplace culture, which is impacted by all the things mentioned. But the greatest concentration of mitigating influences lie within the leadership and people skills of individual managers and supervisors. The opportunities to recognize and “break the chain” come most often to the men and women who work and interact directly with people in the workplace: Managers and Supervisors.
Don’t misunderstand. None of this is to suggest in any way that workplace violence is due to the failure of supervisors. There are so many things that are simply out of their control. But the things that are within their control yield the lion’s share of potentially mitigating influence. That’s why this book was written: To help managers and supervisors recognize and use the things that are within their control to create safer, more production workplaces.