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Archive for September 2nd, 2010

Is your company safe from angsty former employees or the militant nut job who has a bone to pick with your products or services?

The recent hostage-taking-SWAT-team-shooting of James J. Lee at Discovery Channel headquarters in Silver Spring, Md. (see this article in the Washington Post), made me ask myself: How safe is any company from someone who really wants to cause harm.

At each of my most recent three employers, security appeared sound. Employees had to “badge in” and security officers sat at the guest and employee entrances. Signs proclaimed to everyone entering the building that “Guns Are Banned On The Premises.” Any person with sound mind gets the message loud and clear.

And that’s the problem. Not everyone is of sound mind. Clearly. People who have been laid off, fired or otherwise wronged by an employer don’t always process the events and move on in life. They harbor ill will against their boss. They find reason to admonish the company. They seek revenge. Some actually take revenge.

When my kids were young and in elementary school, when each school year started I reminded them to stay alert in the classroom. I’d talk to them about the importance of following instructions and if there was danger to use their instincts. When I was a kid back in the ’70s, we learned safety measures for when an atomic bomb was on its way to tiny-town Iowa. I don’t think schools teach kids what to do when Johnny walks in with his dad’s hand gun.

And I don’t think the average employee thinks about what he or she should do when fired former co-worker Bob returns to the office complex looking for his boss (and anyone else who happens to be in the cubical) to exact revenge with his 12-gauge.

Fortunately, in Silver Spring at Discovery Channel HQ, no innocent people were killed. Something went “right” in a terrible case of wrongness. A police sharpshooter’s skill was necessary and, to at least three people and their families, very appreciated.

Let’s hope other James J. Lees out there think twice before taking similar actions at corporations around the world. And for the rest of us in cubicles, let’s think of our own plans to get low and stay alive.

Don’t let the job kill you.

-end-

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