It is becoming a problem in the workplace to harass people. The most vulnerable workers in human resources are those who work at the front lines of harassment. They need to be skilled in preventing and resolving workplace harassment.
Harassment is not limited to sex or race. Coworker harassment is a common issue during our union organizing campaigns. Union supporters sometimes threaten and pressurize employees who don’t want a union. These situations often lead to physical confrontations, and even vandalism. There are steps managers can take to stop workplace harassment before it escalates beyond control. Here are three tips that I have for managing workplace conflict:
1. It is important that first-level leaders are trained to recognize changes in behavior at work. Pay attention to early signs of workplace conflict. Performance may drop. Friends may stop talking. A good supervisor will be able to notice the change in behavior and address the issue before it escalates. Bad supervisors are not able to notice what is happening until it is too late.
2. You can prevent problems from becoming worse. Employees should be informed of the company’s expectations and conduct at the first sign of a potential conflict. While you should start with the affected employees, it is important to remind all coworkers of the expected conduct. They are most likely to notice and hopefully stop a conflict escalating beyond control. Avoid falling into the trap of “victim, perpetrator and savior”. If two employees are involved in a conflict, it’s better to allow them to solve the problem themselves rather than having a manager intervene. Manager intervention will only escalate the conflict and make it worse.
3. Be firm but fair. Be firm but fair when an incident happens. Let the parties know you will thoroughly and fairly investigate both sides. These situations are often dangerous for the company. You are often punished if you do and damned when you don’t. You can also be charged by the union, or lose a union election, if you are involved in a union campaign situation. You should refer any situation that involves a domestic dispute, drug use, or an emotional issue to your EAP program. However, if you are forced to act, take immediate action. Threats, intimidation and harassment should never be tolerated in the workplace.
Human Resource professionals must be skilled in managing workplace conflict. You can practice your facilitation skills in lower-intensity situations to improve your abilities. You can prevent most conflicts from becoming high-intensity if you do a good work building these skills.