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National Association of Counties * Washington, DC            Vol. 30, No. 24 * December 21, 1998

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The HR Doctor Makes 'House Calls'

Recently, the HR Doctor had the pleasure of helping Cook County, Ill., by conducting training for the county’s management staff on "Workplace Violence Prevention and Intervention." That service to one of America’s largest counties was followed by similar work for a coalition of relatively small counties and cities in California’s Central Valley and Sierra foothills.

The same subject has kept the HR Doctor’s spare time full with help for the supervisory and management staff of one of the country’s largest law enforcement agencies, the Broward County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office. Even though the sizes of these agencies differ greatly, the needs, concerns and interest in "getting in front of trouble" and improving county human resource programs are identical. As these agencies know, the time to act is BEFORE major incidents and major liabilities occur.

With a proactive program of workplace violence prevention and intervention, the large majority of threats and acts of violence can be prevented. How? What’s the treatment? Here’s the HR Doctor’s prescription: Learn about the inappropriate behaviors that give rise to threats and acts of violence at work, and how to "Stop, Interrupt and Correct" such behaviors.

The "toxic" behaviors I’m talking about certainly involve those of a small percentage of employees or members of the public. However, perhaps more troubling to an organization’s overall health is the fact that some management or supervisory staff members display these same behaviors. They become the catalyst causing or contributing to the eruption of threatening or violent acts when they would not otherwise have happened.

Ironically, then, we create our own problems very often by not appreciating the symptoms and effects of such behaviors by the "agents of the county" as well as potential perpetrators in already stressful situations.

By learning about the effects of these behaviors and how to "interrupt" them, managers are learning how to prevent potentially great trouble for their organizations and themselves.

One of the reasons that the HR Doctor focuses a lot of attention on workplace violence is that the same toxic behaviors which give rise to it, are usually the culprits behind other workplace tragedies such as sexual harassment, race and gender discrimination and more. Learn how to prevent and intervene successfully in this one area, and you make an investment in better workplace in reducing risks and liabilities in all of these other areas at the same time. Not a bad use of the agencies time and training resources!

If you would like to discuss a "house call" by the HR Doctor to your jurisdiction, please contact the HR Doctor by or fax 954/796-9495.

Best Regards,
Phil Rosenberg
HR Doctor

(If you have questions for the "HR Doctor," e-mail him at Rosenberg is the Human Resources director for Broward County, Fla.)

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