Proper Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. Perhaps you’ve heard there are five, maybe 6, or even 8 P’s to this mnemonic. Regardless of the variables, the principle message, relating it to workplace planning is the same:
Hire the right experience, as a preemptive measure, to create an effective workplace violence prevention program that supports your organizational goals and is well aligned with the company culture. Training and practice drills should be the norm; not just a one time exercise and everyone, top management included, must be committed to the program 100%.
It is often said that practice makes perfect. We say practice creates a habit. A habit then becomes a mindset which will, in turn, enable everyone to subconsciously be alert to the possibilities and more prepared to respond should that possibility ever become a reality.
The 7 P’s At Work
During the unfortunate tragedy of September 11, 2001, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. lost 6 employees. Although those were 6 lives too many, they were 6 out of the 2,700 employees that worked in the south tower. Among them were Vice President of Corporate Security for Morgan Stanley, Rick Rescorla and two of his security officers who remained in the ill-fated building to conduct a final sweep of their floors. As Mr. Rescorla’s Memorial page puts it he, “Died Like He Lived: A Hero.”
As the head of security for Morgan Stanley, Rick Rescorla understood and followed the 7 P’s. Before the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, Rick and his security consultant and long time friend, Dan Hill assessed the building and determined that a major vulnerability existed in the underground garage; a finding that Mr. Rescorla brought to the Port Authority’s attention but was ultimately ignored. After the attack in 1993, Mr. Rescorla recognized that the building would inevitably be hit again and even recommended that Morgan Stanley move out of the World Trade Center. When his recommendation was not followed, Mr. Rescorla made it his mission to protect the lives of those he was entrusted with the next best way he could. Mr. Rescorla would go on to develop the company’s comprehensive emergency procedures plan and was even successful in having the Port Authority upgrade some of the building’s emergency equipment. Mr. Rescorla constantly conducted drills in which even the company’s top executives participated, and he was successful in developing each and every employees’ mindset. In a short film that highlights Mr. Rescorla’s heroic acts, survivors constantly make mention about what Rick had always told them and every survivor interviewed, credits Mr. Rescorla for their safe evacuation from the south tower. It should be noted that the orders for Morgan Stanley employees to evacuate came from Rick Rescorla despite the Port Authority asking the building’s occupants to stay on their floors. One can only imagine just how much worse this nightmare would have been for Morgan Stanley had their employees not been conditioned and committed.
Why the 7 P’s Matter
Owners and executives may mean well, but if they do not understand the threats or vulnerabilities their businesses face, they will not be committed nor support the program 100%. Without the proper support, even the best plan will run the risk of being ineffective. Without Morgan Stanley’s commitment to its plan, the proper prior planning and preparation efforts by Rick Rescorla would have most likely not produced the same favorable results.
Below are some important tips to consider when developing or redesigning your workplace violence prevention program:
– Seek experienced professionals to help develop or support your plan. If you think hiring a professional is expensive, wait until you hire an amateur.
– The plan must be centered on leadership. If the leadership recognizes the need, they will support the prevention strategies and be committed.
– Take into consideration employee wellness programs and company culture. Conducting a culture study of your organization may yield some surprising results that will help you recognize if a culture change is needed.
– Ensure the program has specific training layers that target each audience respectively such as line employees, supervisors, managers, and executives.
– Train, train, and train some more. Include realistic training such unannounced drills or secret role playing where you test a manager or supervisor’s ability to receive and investigate a report.