Many hostile workplace situations arise because of management''s lack of support and understanding, says Diane Tracy, workplace communications expert, author and executive coach.
Tracy, who has more than 20 years of experience coaching and developing managers, expects that stress will rise as the economy slows.
The recent tragedy of the disgruntled employee who opened fire at an Internet start-up company in suburban Massachusetts is just one example of how workplace problems can turn into horror, according to Tracy.
"Managers must figure out what is really going on inside the minds of their employees," says Tracy. "The problem is that most employees are quite skilled at masking their true thoughts and feelings."
According to Tracy:
- The holidays are a time when everyone is more at the mercy of their darker sides.
- The New Year is also a time when employers need to be particularly observant.
- More heart attacks occur in January than in any other time of the year. This happens mostly because many people are feeling the stress of having spent too much, drunk too much and eaten too much.
- The uncertainty of the economy, especially for those who are psychologically unstable, can be a dangerous time -- for them and their coworkers.
Tracy says simply being aware of what is going on in the workplace is one way for employers to prevent workplace violence. "There are characteristics of good observers that all managers should practice," says Tracy.
by Virginia Sutcliffe