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Aggression in the Workplace: Preventing and Managing High-Risk Behavior

Aggression in the Workplace: Preventing and Managing High-Risk Behavior. By Marc McElhaney; published by AuthorHouse; 234 pages; $29.95.

After 9-11, workplace violence fell from being a hot topic to an almost forgotten one. Yet workplace violence has directly affected far more workplaces than terrorism has. To be sure, terrorism is a critical issue, but one that shouldn’t divert attention from the more “mundane” workplace violence.

In this book, author Marc McElhaney shares his experience, perspective, programs, and conclusions with regard to aggressive and threatening behavior in the workplace. His easy-to-read style blends comprehensive coverage with enough detail to make the book a practical tool.

As with any successful corporate program, workplace violence programs must be supported by management. In the face of competing concerns, that support is sometimes hard to get. McElhaney helps by building a knowledge base that will enable readers to make a compelling case for such a program to their top managers.

Unfortunately, there is no specific profile of the type of person who commits workplace violence. But there are factors and behaviors that can be tracked. McElhaney expertly defines various factors and behaviors that can assist in helping to identify potential offenders.

The capstone of this book is the author’s ten-step approach toward creating a process to thwart workplace violence. Among the steps are preemployment screening, employee training, and conflict resolution skills. McElhaney might have added an eleventh step, though: a widely publicized anonymous employee hotline.

One of the most delicate steps in the prevention process is how to respond to a threat. A good portion of the book is devoted to this issue, providing insight on response-team composition, subject interviews, return-to-work decisions, safe terminations, and, of course, the defusing of rage in angry employees.

Topping off this valuable, practical work are ample tools in the appendices. They include a sample workplace-violence policy, an organizational self-assessment, and incident interview checklists.

Reviewer: Michael K. Cochran, CPP, was previously an executive director of security for a major telecommunications company. He currently manages his own security consulting business in Centennial, Colorado. He is a member of ASIS International.