Dealing with workplace harassment, bullying and discrimination to create a respectful workplace

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Here's a FREE selection of articles that address many different problems and situations in your workplace.

ARTICLES

#23

 SHADOW BOXING:
TELLING AN EMPLOYEE THERE IS A COMPLAINT, BUT NOT GIVING ANY DETAILS

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If you are a supervisor, you may have employees coming to you about the inappropriate behaviour from employee; from the sounds of it, you think this behaviour might be harassment or bullying. And sometimes, this employee says, “but I don’t want you to do anything about it” or “if you say anything, don’t use my name.” There are plenty of supervisors who take this to heart, but they still want to resolve the situation, so they go to the alleged bully and tell them a complaint has been brought forward about them, but due to “confidentiality” they can’t give you any details. Just to be clear…you can’t do this. You either find a way to tell the alleged harasser all the information – so you can deal with it, or you leave the person alone. In this scenario, I’m going to assume that I have some supervisory responsibility over the supervisor who allowed the “shadow boxing” to go on, and I want him to correct it.

 

TRY THIS:

 

Talk to the supervisor to explain that it’s not fair to give a person some details, but not enough details to deal with any allegations. It’s like shadow boxing in which the person has no idea what he has done (or very little) and can’t put up a defence for the allegations. Tell the supervisor there has to be another conversation with the person who made the allegations to find a way to reveal all the information…and I can talk to you in more detail about how to do that. Then you’re going to have to talk to the alleged harasser and give more details, or if nothing is actually going forward, then apologize for what you said and tell this employee you had no right to handle the situation in this manner. It might not be easy, but think of the position you put this alleged harasser in – this person will very likely be paranoid about any future behaviour.

 

HOW ABOUT:

 

“We can’t ask people to change their behaviour if we don’t explain what they did and how we want them to improve. It’s not fair as they will be second-guessing even their good behaviour, wondering what it is they did wrong. Also, you aren’t giving any alleged harasser the opportunity to defend the behaviour. There’s always more than one side to any story and each person has to be given a chance to explain. Maybe there’s no excuse, but until this person gets all the facts, there’s no way of knowing. Now let’s go over what needs to be done to correct this situation. It’s not insurmountable and it’s a good learning experience for all of us…”

 

 

Stephen Hammond, B.A., LL.B., CSP

 

If you have any questions, please contact Stephen.

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© STEPHEN HAMMOND - HARASSMENT SOLUTIONS INC.    
 
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Here's a FREE selection of articles that address many different problems and situations in your workplace.

Here's a FREE selection of articles that address many different problems and situations in your workplace.

© STEPHEN HAMMOND HARASSMENT SOLUTIONS INC.
 
  
 
CONTACT