Take some steps to protect people from angry firee

Lynne Curry

Q. Our management team just terminated a very angry man.

This guy scares the entire workforce. Our managers alerted the police and hired security guards as protection for the first month; however, it's an expensive proposition because we have a multi- location workplace with many entrances. After temporary security, what can we as managers and employees do?

A. Set up a security protocol that creates lines of defense protecting those farthest from your workplace's several perimeters as well as protection for those on the outer edges. Protection includes training and easily accessible security alarm buttons for those who might initially encounter the man, should he return.

I also recommend a YouTube video produced by the City of Houston's Mayor's Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security. "Run, Hide, Fight," the video released after the Colorado theater attack, describes what to do if a shooter enters a workplace or other public space. Key points: Always have a plan and be aware of your surroundings. The police or your security company can help you develop a plan and educate your employees; awareness may be their best protection.

Other guidelines for your employees: If a shooter enters your workplace, leave fast. Leave your belongings behind. Encourage others to leave with you. If they won't, don't wait. Just go.

If you can't leave or get out safely, turn out lights, hide, lock doors and call 911. Silence your cell phone.

As a last resort and if your life is at risk, fight. Violence evolves quickly. Improvise weapons and commit to taking down the shooter. Guts and aggression may save your life and the lives of others.

Q. On my first day of work, someone from Human Resources oriented me. I understood I was joining a facilities crew that had no support staff and in which every employee did whatever duties were assigned. I learned I was the first woman hired for this crew and the supervisor didn't want a female employee.

The HR person directed me to the crew room. As soon as I walked through the door, the supervisor looked up and ordered me to "make coffee, get that stack of paperwork filed and when you're finished take out the garbage." No hello.

One of the crew members looked embarrassed but the rest watched to see how I would handle it.

I don't mind doing menial duties, but his tone conveyed "you are garbage." I flashed on how much I'd wanted this job and started the coffee. It was a pot I wasn't familiar with. He drawled, "God, you're slow."

Again, while everyone watched, I realized I'd face bullying if I didn't stick up for myself. I asked, "May I speak to you in private?" He smirked. "Honey, I don't do private," giving the words a rude meaning. A crew member snickered.

My words tumbled out, "I don't mind doing menial duties but I don't want to be talked to that way."

"Then go," he said.

I returned to HR and said, "I'm out of here." The HR representative talked me into staying. Is staying the wrong decision when I'm obviously not wanted?

A. That depends.

Your supervisor threw down a gauntlet. Once an employee proves herself, does he let up? Or do the innuendoes continue?

Will the crew follow the behavior their supervisor models - or treat you fairly?

Does HR plan only to ask that your supervisor change his behavior or will he be given effective training to turn around his attitude toward female employees?

If not, the supervisor's treatment of you could result in misery for you and allegations of sex discrimination against your new employer.

Should you resign? Yes. Why work for a dinosaur?

Should you stay? Yes. Why let one jerk run you off from a job you wanted?

You may be just what this company and supervisor need. Walk back in and prove yourself.

Dr. Lynne Curry is a management/employee trainer and owner of the consulting firm The Growth Company Inc. Send your questions to her at thegrowthcompany.com.