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Exercise 11-1: Critical Incident for the Vice-President of Human Resources

Imagine that you are the Vice-President of Human Resources for a large Midwestern automaker that has fallen on tough economic times.Over the last 12 months, to keep operations running, you have implemented a hiring freeze, eliminated all bonuses, and begun laying off employees. The labor union that represents your line employees has become increasingly hostile due to these changes, which does not help your already adversarial relationship with it. At this point, your margin for operating error is slim and current contracts are the only thing keeping your company from falling into bankruptcy.

Last week a worker who was recently laid off arrived at the manufacturing plant, stormed into the main office, and demanded to see the management team responsible for laying him off. Before security could arrive on the scene, he opened fire with a shotgun, killing an administrative assistant, a foreman, and six line workers. In the end, he also took his own life.


Develop an action plan to respond to this situation. For help, you can go to websites on workplace violence listed at the bottom of this exercise. Please be sure to address the following questions in your plan:

1.How would you handle notifying medical personnel, the victims’ families, the news media, customers, employees, and the union?

2.Given the circumstances, should you close down the plant? If so, for how long? What would guide your decision?

3.What can you do to assist surviving employees?

4.How do you continue to meet customer obligations on such a slim budget and margin?

5.What policies and/or procedures could you put into place that might help prevent a similar incident? Is there anything in the selection process that could have screened out this individual?

6.How do you handle your own stress (as Vice-President of Human Resources) given the added pressure you are now experiencing?

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