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by Eddy Parham, OD Guy
Recently while teaching a series of courses on Harassment, I had an epiphany. Now you have to understand that not only do I get to teach harassment courses, I also get to investigate complaints of harassment so teaching about it, while not the most fun thing to teach is considered by me as “preventive maintenance”.
The complaints that I have received throughout the years run the gamut, but one type of complaint seems to be more prolific than others. That would be the employee who complains that their manager is harassing them. You also need to understand that I’m not what could be considered a “quick learner” hence the epiphany after all of these years training and investigating harassment complaints.
So here’s the epiphany. A good number of the complaints that I have investigated don’t rise to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission level of harassment. In other words, the person who feels that they are the target of the harassment isn’t actually targeted based on their status as a member of a protected class but rather they are the victim of poor management.
So managers I ask this – treat your employees with respect. Explain the rationale behind the decisions that you make. Sure, you’re the boss and don’t need to justify your decisions to your subordinates, but what you believe is a logical decision based on the information that you hold can look more like harassment to your employees.
For instance, there may be a solid business reason why you cannot send an employee to a training course that they have requested. Maybe there has been a solid business reason you couldn’t send them to the last 3 training courses they wanted to attend. But if all you tell them is “No” it is easy for them to make the jump from “No” to “No, you’re not allowing me to attend because I am fill in your choice of protected class here”.
Now I’m not naïve enough to believe that simply explaining your decisions will stop harassment complaints – after all, some complaints are legitimate. But I can’t help but think that if managers would spend a few extra minutes explaining to the troops why they did what they did, then the workplace would be a much better place. I all boils down to showing your employees a little respect.