Going Postal: Self, family then workplace violence (not if but when)

PhysicalAbuse

I had covered what Erving Goffman defined as a Total Institution earlier:

…a place of residence and work where a large number of like-situated individuals, cut off from the wider society for an appreciable period of time, together lead an enclosed, formally administered round of life.

Franchised business models can become so intrusive, demanding and dysfunctional as to create an environment that breeds workplace bullying.

Intimidation leads to violence, just as predictably as you see in other “hermetically sealed” institutions such as prisons or non-voluntary psychiatric wards.

I worked at a provincial psychiatric hospital (St. Thomas, ON)  for 9 months as a medical audit coordinator just after my Ivey MBA in 1985. I reviewed hundreds of inpatient and outpatient medical case histories: about 1/3 including the most serious crimes you can imagine that can fall under a Lieutenant-Governor’s Warrant. I interviewed many partners and children and their abuse always, always, always was much earlier, pervasive and shame-filled than the subsequent police and justice system intervention.

I came to appreciate the fragility of mental health and the origins of family violence.

Franchisors set the business model: they are almost 100% responsible for the way humans try to survive an, at times, inhuman situation.

That franchisees can be managed into a situation where they are baited and then  go postal would not be a surprise to any mental health care professional I have ever known. Any minimally competent human relations professional would know that a primary truism in human psychology is: behavior is caused, it very seldom arises from no where.

Workplace violence starts with aggressive thoughts — then — verbal threats and in extreme cases, will manifest itself in property damage and physical assaults. Way before any visible signs (chairs through windows, managers fearing for their safety), the bullying target has become to a danger to “self and others” in their secret places: in their family.

To control a man’s livelihood is to control his life.

When senior management flagrantly bullies a group’s informal leader, this aggression is processed as an assault on everyone that supports that individual. That behavior is beyond the executive’s legitimate authority and is therefore he or she is personally responsible for their actions under the law.

A corporate culture of entitlement, unjustified superiority and arrogance often manifests itself in a preoccupation with form over substance (ie. it’s easier to spin a crisis rather than fix it). When managers push and push and push for no valid business reasons, the most vulnerable (families: partners and children) suffer the most.

Workplace violence is more likely the more management views the target group as a “problem” or as even subhuman (ie. lacking in intelligence, weak mind/strong back).

Individuals who control franchise systems should conduct themselves in a lawful, just and appropriate manner if they happen to be viewed by others.

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