In June, 2016, the EEOC released its Task Force Report on Harassment, underscoring that nearly one-third of its annual Charge intake now includes harassment allegations. Although most allegations (i.e., 95% plus) do not fulfill the legal standards of unlawful harassment, the allegation itself launches a process teeming with anxiety, inconvenience, and expense for managers and their employers—i.e., investigative and litigation defense procedures. No doubt, employers and their managers share a common interest in avoiding workplace harassment allegations.
As the EEOC pointed out, the traditional approach to anti-harassment training (e.g., addressing “harassing conduct,” consequences, complaint process and policy) have not curbed the tide of harassment charges. And unfortunately, this “traditional approach,” now codified in California’s AB 1825, 2.3, comes from attorneys who know little about cognitive, social, and educational psychology where the truly helpful insights about harassment training reside. Practitioners schooled in these disciplines, however, can easily see the fundamental problem with this traditional approach: because of normal psychological processes related to “cognitive dissonance” and “rationalization” and “fundamental attribution error,” humans do not perceive their own conduct as harassing and discriminatory, but are quick to assign those labels to others’ conduct. And so, managers assume the annual anti-harassment training does not apply to them and check out:
I would never harass and discriminate, and so, I cannot be ACCUSED of harassing or discriminating. This training does not apply to me.
WorkplaceTrainingHub.com offers a more effective approach to workplace anti-harassment training, an approach that, among other things,
- breaks through cognitive dissonance and helps managers understand their vulnerability to harassment allegations based on their oral and written communications with subordinates;
- explains the common workplace scenarios in which harassment allegations arise;
- details the organizational and personal cost of harassment allegations, even unfounded ones;
- recalibrates managers’ expectations of the manager-subordinate relationship and gives managers tools to resolve conflict;
- facilitates coordination with HR and in-house counsel; and,
- shows managers how to document employee interactions and how to respond appropriately if accused of harassment.
Once managers understand the “YOU Case” for anti-harassment prevention and coordination with HR, they eagerly participate in training and coordinate with the HR business partners. By contrast, managers (and most adult learners, for that matter) resent didactic edicts not to engage in behaviors they consider repugnant (e.g., harassment, discrimination) and uncharacteristic of themselves.
When done well, training works. But to work well, legal trainers must borrow from other disciplines like cognitive, social and educational psychology to help them design and deliver programs that actually reach their participants. Instead of discounting training, or adding “civility training,” practitioners should explore how to make training more engaging and relevant to managers in the workplace trenches. Unlike the EEOC, WorkplaceTrainingHub.com knows how.