How would you respond if an employee raised a harassment complaint? Rely on these tips:
- Don’t delay. Make time immediately to discuss the employee’s complaint. If you try to put the conversation off, the employee may let the matter drop, and that can cause bigger problems later.
- Don’t promise confidentiality. That may not be possible—especially if what you hear warrants passing the complaint along or initiating an investigation. Explain that you will share information only on a “need to know” basis and that you will protect anonymity as far as you are able.
- Don’t interpret what the employee says. Listen closely to gain the employee’s perspective on the events in question, and write down the words both you and the employee use to discuss them. Refrain from offering explanations or excuses—doing so could make you appear dismissive.
- Do give the employee a copy of your organization’s harassment policy, and explain how the complaint process works.
— Adapted from “Manager’s Guide to Receiving Harassment Allegations,” Barrie Gross, www.allbusiness.com.