Workplace Violence Expert Jim Sporleder on “What’s Working with Cam Marston”

Posted On March 14, 2018

What would you do if there was an active shooter situation in your workplace? Despite the blanket news coverage since the murder of 17 students and teachers by a gunman at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., such situations are still rare. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think about what we would do if it happened to us.

In this episode of “What’s Working with Cam Marston,” workplace violence expert Jim Sporleder shares some of his vast expertise in this area. Sporleder is a former U.S. Air Force intelligence officer who specialized in captivity survival, spending 14 years training airmen who had a high level of risk for capture to know what to do to survive in that situation.

Sporleder has since turned that expertise to the issue of workplace violence via his online training programs. There were 500 workplace homicides in 2016, the last year for which statistics are readily available – 394 of which were intentional shootings. While not rising to the numbers of the early 1990s, that’s up from 354 in 2015 and 307 in 2014.

What should you do if you find yourself faced with an active shooter situation in your workplace? What proactive steps can you take to prevent one before it happens?

Sporleder discusses things to look for in identifying a coworker who may turn into a potential threat — someone who has “moved from stress to distress” — and what to do when you sense that something’s not right. There are signs to look for, he says, adding that the idea that an attacker “just snaps” before carrying a rifle into an office building is a myth.

“The reality is violence is evolutionary,” Sporleder says. “It’s a progression. There are usually signposts along the way.”

What if, despite our best efforts to be vigilant, we find ourselves in an active shooter situation?

Sporleder shares why training and forethought are important in overcoming the universal initial reaction to such a scenario – disbelief. He also discusses why the common “run, hide, fight” advice might be better thought of as “get out, get safe, get tough,” and some things to consider if you’re ever forced to resort to the last of those strategies.

Finally, Sporleder discusses how the conversation about workplace violence is shifting from what to do if it happens to how to take steps to prevent it through pre-hire background checks, verbal de-escalation and creating a culture of workplace civility.

Join us for this important and timely discussion.

Categories: Work, Workplace