Sunday, August 13, 2006

Harassment by any other name...

Pop - Quiz!!

Your best employee, Liz has just told you that Tom is harassing her. What do you do?

Well, if you are like most managers, the second thing you do is hit the panic button (the first is to pick yourself up off the floor!). This is a tough situation and requires you to be at the top of your game. Now I'm about to say something that might get my HR-witch doctors license revoked, but you can manage this situation. HR should be involved, but not every company has a real HR function - so just like the Boy Scouts say, you've got to "Be Prepared".

I stumbled across a pretty good article in Forbes that spells out a good plan of action and some key "do" and "do not" advice. This is good stuff for the average manager. You are at the point of decision and you are the key to action so knowing how to keep your cool and process the information effectively and promptly could mean the difference between being stood up at the Company's Annual meeting and being cited as the "Boss of the Year", or being stood up in front of a jury to explain yourself - the former is ALAWAYS preferable to the latter!

Let me give you one more little tid-bit on point from my Secret HR Voo-Doo book - ALWAYS err on the side of caution to protect your people. Keep the matter as low key as possible - you are not hiding it, ignoring it or avoiding it, but you cannot make it look like a matter to panic over. Guage your response to the level of the threat to your staff and balance your response between keeping everyone safe and maintaining a calm envrionment.

Take a moment during your next team meeting and discuss the topic of harassment with your team - your message has two parts and is VERY concise -
1. We dont tolerate harassment in any form, from anybody here. Full stop!
2. If you feel you are being harassed by anyone - speak to me or (some other competent company authority) and we will deal with the situation promptly, confidentially and ensure that any wrongdoing is halted - full stop!

If you spend 5 minutes covering this in your next team meeting (oh, you do have those - dont you?), and document it in your minutes (oh, you do record minutes of your meetings, dont you???), you can greatly improve your chances of heading off and surviving a harassment incident.

Carry on!

No comments: