The suicide attempt occurred at the firm during business hours and John B. was concerned because he/the managing director was discovered after hours by another employee at the firm. The managing director was put on leave, but continued to send threatening text messages to various staff at the firm, which led to increased trauma for the employees. Police were called and they followed up and advised John and the firm. John B., decided to terminate the managing director not only due to the suicide attempt, but also for sending the threatening messages. Subsequently, John B requested that I come into the firm the next business day to develop a strategy and plan for addressing the staff. We decided that I would meet with the entire firm and conduct a critical Incident debriefing (CID).
During the Critical Incident Debriefing, I provided a safe forum for the staff to express their anger and disappointment toward the/this managing director who they had looked up to as a father figure and and mentor. They realized that the partner had had many issues of which they were unaware. I spent time normalizing their reactions, providing education and information on self care, and educating them on what they may experience after such an event. I also coached them on how to move past the event and resume their normal activities in their work and personal lives. A few of the employees were quite engaged in the discussion and asked how I would assist an employee with a mental health and/or substance abuse problem.
Finally, John put me on a retainer for a few weeks to provide additional coaching and counseling for any of his staff who felt the need for additional services.
After the completion of my intervention, John B informed me that his employees were doing well and performing effectively at work. I also learned that the threatening texts messages had ceased. John B indicated that he was very satisfied with the process.
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DEFINITION of a CRITICAL INCIDENT DEBRIEFING (CID): is offered to firms and companies within 72 hours of the incident. The service gives individuals and groups the opportunity to talk about their experiences, how it affected them, brainstorm coping mechanisms, identify individuals at risk and discuss services available to them. (THIS Process IS EDUCATIONAL and NOT THERAPEUTIC in nature.) The leader or facilitator listens without judgment or criticism and the service is confidential. Attendance is often mandatory, but participation is not. In other words, individuals do not have to share, but can listen. The purpose of the CID is to support individuals, firms and communities who have experienced a traumatic event with the goal of returning to their normal routine more quickly and to minimize post traumatic stress disorder. The Final Step is to follow up with the firm to ensure that the staff are coping, functioning at work as well as to make sure the business is operating smoothly.
If you have any questions about this case or any other employee relations matters, please do not hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please post your comments below.