Beware The Blind Eye
Watch out for turning a blind eye when it comes to disrespect, bullying and sexual harassment. It’s easy to look away and not take it on. Even if you have policy and training at your company, the temptation to let it go, is strong.
Watch Out For Ostrich-like Responses
There is an impulse to minimize issues like these. So, start early and speak immediately to staff behaving inappropriately. If a few instances have passed, commit to discussing it in retrospect. Waiting for the next time can be good, but watch out for using, “I’ll talk to her next time” as an excuse for not acting.
Document the Discussion and Involve Others
Follow your respectful workplace policy or bullying and harassment policy and follow-through on investigations into problems. Don’t go it alone. Involve others-talk to peers, Human Resources and get advice.
Avoid Cumbersome Reporting Procedures
Keep reporting simple. Have an organizational policy and procedure and if your union has anti-harassment or anti-bullying provisions in the collective agreement, make it easy for staff and management to know where to report concerns.
Examine Your Organization’s Values
Ms. Rubin writes, in her report, the CBC needs to demonstrate respect for employees, “through meaningful and consistent action every day and throughout the organization” to shift the culture from a disrespectful environment to a respectful one.
Companies can create informal cultures of mutual respect by applying the Golden Rule—treat others as you would like to be treated. Rubin makes the point, it’s good to tick all the ‘must haves’, like having a respectful workplace policy, training, an anonymous hotline, and an ombudsman.
But, in the end, it’s about how we treat each other every day.
For example, I worked with a manager who took this perspective. He liked getting honest feedback from people. So, he talked to a supervisor who he heard was demeaning to workers.
He told him his behaviour was hurting staff and he was going to keep an eye on it. He also said he had people in his life who cared enough to be honest with him, so he was returning the favour. The manager added he’d help him change, but it wasn’t going to continue.
Beware Rain-makers or Key talent who Bully and Harass
Companies concerned about the bottom-line or staying successful may mishandle key personnel who bully or engage others inappropriately. Analyzing whether the key talent’s contribution is overblown is important. Some who bully are good at self-promotion.
So, do some due diligence and figure out if they are really as vital as you think. Add, into that, fall-out costs—re-hiring, re-training staff who have quit because of this person, disability claims and stress leave and absences.
If they really are vital to the company, ask if their role can be circumscribed. For example, a start-up had a great business developer, who was also a bully. He was relieved of all supervisory duties and not allowed to manage or direct staff.
He had to go through his boss, if he wanted to address staff about anything. And, he stayed out of the office and concentrated on building the new business’s client base. Something he happened to be really good at.
For more on dealing with office bullying and harassment please click here . You can also read my column in the Working Section of the Vancouver Sun. Or tune in every Thursday morning for my weekly radio appearances at the CBC Early Edition.