Working Together Effectively After A Harassment Investigation
I have an employee that filed a complaint against their supervisor for alleged harassment. An investigation has been completed and it was determined that there was no harassment and the issue was resolved. I am very concerned about the employee and their supervisor being able to work effectively together in the future. What can I do to help them move forward after this situation?
That is definitely a tricky situation and one that many organizations and employees must overcome at one time or another. It would be very easy in many instances to just separate the two and move them to separate departments, but that is not always the best solution. Some other things to consider may be:
- Coaching the Manager
Whether this manager did anything wrong or not, they will need one on one coaching and guidance on how to build and repair the relationship with the individual and possibly others in the department. The manager will need to work to regain credibility with the individual and with those in the department.
- Team Building for Group
This can be in different forms: team building to build awareness and trust or team development to encourage learning about others and their strengths. Both are great, but the later helps us to work together as a team and to appreciate others and their differences. That annoying team member who blurts out everything he is thinking? There is value in him/that. Team development helps us understand that there is value in differences and also helps Mr. Annoying understand how his actions can be irritating to others. All good lessons for the team.
- De-Briefing After the Investigation
How you communicate the results of the investigation to both parties can help or hurt the situation moving forward. Clearly dealing with the issues at hand and helping each person understand the behaviors and reactions and how to deal with them in the future (if they continue) is essential. Secondly, they must be sure to focus on the business at hand and understand who to speak with if things get uncomfortable. Until the dust settles, you may want to suggest they have a witness around when talking. Communication will be key and that is challenging when your feelings are hurt.
- Shaking It Out
Unfortunately, we’ve also seen many instances like this and the person claiming the harassment just elects to leave. This will depend on their reaction to the outcome, how strongly they felt, and how valuable they are for you to prevent this.
Regardless of what route you take, it will be essential to have open and clear communications with all parties in an effort to move past the situation.