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Working Together Effectively After A Harassment Investigation

HR Question:

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 not 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?

HR Answer:

That is definitely a delicate situation and one that many organizations and employees must overcome at one time or another.  It may seem easy in many instances to simply separate the two and move them to separate departments, but that is not always the best solution.  Some other options 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 the rest of the department.

Team Building for Groups

This can be in different forms.  Team Building (you know…the rah rah kind to be build awareness and trust) or Team Development which is more about learning about others and their strengths.  Both are great, but the latter helps us to work together as a team and appreciate others and their differences.  You know…that annoying team member who blurts out everything they are thinking?  Well…there is value in that.  Team Development helps us understand that there is value in differences and also helps Mr./Mrs. Annoying understand how their actions can be irritating to others.  All good lessons for the team.

Impactful de-brief 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.

Shake 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 and how strongly they felt you found 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.

At Strategic HR, we offer a variety of team building and team development programs targeted to help get teams back on track for success. Each program is customized to meet the team’s dynamics and needs. For more information on our Team Effectiveness Programs, click here.