Not so long ago an L&D manager approached me through our World Learning Hub regarding us creating a 5 to 10 minute EEO/ anti-discrimination, harassment and bullying module for her managers. ‘They won’t do any training that lasts longer than that’ she said with a kind of ‘been there, done that’ tone of voice. I was ‘surprised’ to say the least and felt concern for their learning culture. But then it’s a common theme in many ‘high pressure’ environments these days. Those under pressure setting the ‘don’t bother me’ learning culture, and what’s worse, senior executives and L&D relenting to it.
But then, to be honest, a lot of the eLearning compliance material out there is pretty average which doesn’t help to enthuse learners.
So given the impatience of learners these days, especially those at the senior level, I want to present you with a list of what every manager (and supervisor) senior to frontline, must know in the anti-bullying, discrimination and harassment space in order that you are ‘compliant’. So here it is:
2.Managers must know that your organisation has a policy and complaints procedure and where to find them. If you have eLearning, get your provider to embed the policy and complaints handling process.
3. Managers must know that there are local laws that overarch the policy. A general understanding of the focus of these laws is important. A general knowledge of where to find further information is essential.
4. Managers must know that their behaviour must comply with the policy
5. Managers must know that if a manager becomes aware of inappropriate or unlawful behaviour that they are obligated to do something ‘reasonable’ about it. It is a huge bonus if the training gives them some information on how they might respond-in particular how to have that often challenging discussion about poor behaviour.
6. Managers must know how to respond to a complaint of discrimination, harassment and bullying in their workplace. This also means knowing the roles of HR, investigators and contact officers throughout any complaints handling process.
7. Managers must know the general meaning of ‘duty of care’ and its application to workplace conduct. Also the implications of vicarious liability as far as the business is concerned and their own personal liability should they contribute to a person’s physical or psychological injury.
8. Managers must know that a direct manager cannot conduct an independent investigation into an allegation of unlawful behaviour. (Any investigator, including an internal investigator, should be appointed to conduct the investigation with clear stated written terms of reference.)
9. Finally, managers must know that the organisation is ultimately responsible for how an issue is dealt with-sometimes this means that the chosen approach to handle a complaint may conflict with the desires of the complainant.
It is also of great benefit if managers are aware that in cases of unlawful discrimination, harassment or workplace bullying, the prior patterns of the respondent’s behaviour and the nature of the workplace culture, may materially influence the findings of an investigator, court or tribunal.
Therefore, the idea of a five minute ‘training’ event is outrageous. Inadequate training definitely places the company and its people at high risk; both legally and from a welfare point of view. Employees will be influenced by the importance their leaders put on this matter, if all the leaders can spare is 5, 10 or even 15 minutes there will be no hope of modifying what are sometimes long standing inappropriate behaviours at the frontline.