How Managers Should Handle Sexual Harassment Claims

Managers need to learn what the correct response is
Managers need to learn what the correct response is
Image Credit: iVoryTowerz

There has been a great deal of coverage in the papers and on television about sexual harassment in the workplace. Male managers have been struggling to find ways to use our manager skills to deal with these claims and, of course, how to prevent them from happening in the first place. Managers just don’t seem to know what the appropriate response is – we’ve never had any manager training on what to do. What managers need to understand is what we should NOT do when someone comes to us with an allegation of sexual harassment.

Take the Time To Hear Them Out

As a manager, you many not feel that you know what to do if somebody comes to you with a sexual harassment claim. However, how you react will be very important. You need to take the time to allow them to feel as though they have been heard by you. The one thing that you don’t want to do is to shut them down. You don’t want to make their issue seem unimportant – it is important to them. Do not allow your dismissive approach to silence the person with the complaint.

As a manager you need to understand that you are not in this all by yourself. What this means is that you need to make sure that you get help from other departments, such as HR. You need to understand that if a team member has come to you with a serious allegation of sexual harassment against someone else, you need to take the time to listen to what they have to say. This will be especially true if you’ve never dealt with something like this before.

Do Not Limit The Amount Of Time To Deal With The Situation

As managers, we’ve always got a lot on our plate. When we are presented with a sexual harassment situation, we may do like we always do – look for a way to resolve this issue quickly. You have to be careful to not do this because doing so may come across as being both disrespectful and unhelpful. Instead, allow the person with the complaint to take as much time as they need to tell you what is going on. What you need to understand is that in a sensitive situation like this, your role as a manager is to help navigate a delicate situation not to jump to conclusions or create artifical deadlines.

Do Not Make The Assumption That Your Company Knows How To Deal With This Situation

So why don’t more people who have dealt with sexual harassment come forward? The answer is very simple: they don’t trust the systems that are provided to process their claims. This may be a good time to find out what your company’s vetting process is, and how that could hurt and help both parties. You want the people on your team to feel as though they can come to you if they feel as though they are being sexually harassed. You don’t want them to think that the company does not care about them or their situation.

What All Of This Means For You

We are living in the time after the #MeToo movement. What this means for managers is that it’s incredibly important that managers make sure victims of sexual assault have reliable avenues to come forward in their company. What we need to understand is that this is an extremely difficult situation to handle. As a manager, it’s your job to ensure that there are sufficient processes put in to regulate, and handle these sorts of difficult issues and claims.

It can be all too easy to think that sexual harassment is something that happens somewhere else, not where you work. It turns out that nothing could be further from the truth. Sexual assault and harassment happen in every industry, not just in Hollywood and in politics. So do your best as a manager to make sure your team members feel safe, protected and that they have a place to go to find justice.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: When somebody comes to you with a sexual harassment complaint, how much time should you allocate to them?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

What is it that every manager is hoping for? Why it is to use your manager skills to be promoted, of course. When that special day comes, are you going to be ready? You’ll get a new job title, perhaps more money, maybe even a new office. However, it’s not going to be long before your mind is going to start to be filled with second thoughts. If you are not careful, you could end up sabotaging yourself. Upon getting promoted, there are several things that you are going to have to get busy doing.