Below is more of Chapter 6:
C. Identifying High Risk Behavior
Leader/managers should identify associates who exhibit high-risk behavior. High-risk behavior is
a behavioral pattern that intentionally or unintentionally increases the individual’s probability of negative consequences. High-risk behavior not only puts the associates(s) at risk but also could put the organization and its leaders at risk. Liability may be associated with high-risk behavior.
Leader/managers must identify at-risk associates, mitigate their stress, and intervene to help them or find them.
Identifying associates as high risk is one reason for leader/managers to get out of their office, walk around, and spot check. Associates, who intentionally exhibit high-risk behavior, do so because they feel safe and believe that the leader will not catch them. They feel safe if they know that the leader will not check up on them. Leaders need to avoid establishing set patterns as they walk
Examples of high-risk behavior include misconduct, drug use (including alcohol and tobacco) disregard for safety procedures, criminal activity, bullying, gambling, and other dangerous activities. Data suggests there is a link between these behaviors and suicides as well as accidental deaths. Studies also suggest there is a direct link between increased life stressors and increased risk behavior. High-risk behaviors can ruin careers and organizations.
Misconduct represents a conscious decision to accept both the risk associated with a prohibited activity (such as riding a motorcycle without a helmet) and the risk of being caught while violating the standard (the helmet policy). Leader/managers identify associates as high-risk when they violate standards.
Associates who habitually violate standards or are guilty of misconduct require special attention. When leaders/managers fail to take action, they signal to other associates that such behavior is acceptable. This behavior is potentially dangerous or harmful to the organization, if not physically, then potentially to the organization’s image. These associates demonstrate poor judgment. In the
best-case scenario, they require training or retraining. If they fail to change their ways, leaders should terminate them.
2. Drug Use
Drugs are part of everyday life in the US. We use legal drugs to control or alleviate medical and mental problems. However, even legal drugs can cause issues in the workplace if misused. Drug addiction is difficult to cure. Many organizations will make no effort for rehabilitation and will terminate drug users. However, some organizations do provide resources for admitted drug users.
Alcohol is a legal drug but most organizations do not allow drinking alcohol while working. Years ago, people use to cover up for associates who came to work hung over or even drunk. Organizations have less tolerance for this behavior now. Leader/managers need to make resources available for associates who are alcoholics. Associates, who drink while working, pose a danger to themselves and others. Alcoholism is difficult to cure. Leader should terminate associates who are addicted and who fail to respond to treatment. Many organizations require passing as drug screening as a condition for employment. Drug abuse is associated with other problems such as theft, injuries, and absenteeism.
In Germany, I caught a soldier smoking pot, and I punished him accordingly. Shortly afterwards, he married a woman who had zero tolerance for illegal drug use. The unit armorer position came open, and he asked for the job. I was reluctant to put a known drug user in charge of the unit weapons. He explained to me that his wife made it quite clear that if he ever used drugs again, she would leave him. I took a chance, and he became a great armorer. I use this example to explain that drug users can change, but it is a rare exception. Leader/managers need to keep an open mind and support the honest attempts to rehabilitate.
Tobacco is another drug of choice for many people. Currently, most states do not allow
discrimination in hiring based on tobacco use. However, many organizations do not allow smoking while working except in designated areas. Leader/managers need to be aware of their organization’s tobacco policy. They should also know which associates are tobacco users. Do not ask them-observe them. People who are addicted to tobacco have a difficult time going between breaks without it.
Therefore, they often take extra breaks. This is unfair to non-users and usually in violation to organization policies.
Smokers tend to be very self-centered as a group. In addition to taking unauthorized smoke breaks, they usually litter wherever they smoke. Leader/managers need only to check near exits to find unauthorized smoking areas. Tobacco addiction is another addiction that is difficult to cure. Leader/managers need to make tobacco users aware of resources to help them. Leaders should terminate tobacco users who continue to violate organization policies. I may sound a little tough
on smokers, but the truth is that I used to smoke cigars. I quit in 1974.
3. Disregard for Safety Procedures
Leader/managers should always be on the lookout for unsafe working conditions. Often, associates do not realize that they are performing an unsafe act. Once I discovered housekeepers standing on chairs to perform some tasks-even chairs with wheels. I immediately purchased small stepladders and placed one in every housekeeping closet.
I once used a table saw while wearing a necktie. Later, I realized how stupid that was. I wish someone had pointed that out to me before I did it.
4. Criminal Activity
Criminal activity can range from individuals, gangs, groups, and entire organizations. I do not think I have to say much about individual criminal activity. The problem for lead/managers arises when the organization and/or upper management has a pervasive environment of criminal activity. This could range from illegal price fixing, insider trading, violation of EPA or OSHA standards, or offering bribes and making false reports. I use to work in Chicago where city officials often asked for bribes. Some Chicago-based organizations even budgeted for bribes.
I lived in Kansas when on July 17, 1981, a walkway in the Kansas City Hyatt Regency collapsed, killing 114 people and injuring 216. It was the deadliest structural collage inn US history until 9/11. Shortly after that, a local TV stations secretly followed and videotaped the city-building inspectors as they performed their rounds. They discovered that most, if not all, of the inspectors falsified their inspections. A few made no inspections while and some did a few and falsified the rest. Most of the inspectors wasted time while on the clock and took care of personal business.
Of course, when the TV station aired the videos, the city fired many of the inspectors. Further investigation showed that their actions had nothing to do with the Hyatt tragedy. When I saw the videos, my first thought was, where were the managers and supervisors of these inspectors? In their office no doubt. Illegal activity needs to be exposed. If leader/managers are fearful of
disclosing illegal activity, they should find ways to do it anonymously.