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Handling Workplace Retaliation

Handling Workplace Retaliation

Sharlyn Lauby | HR Bartender

Robin Schooling, SPHR, a vice president of human resources with over 20 years of HR management experience in various industries including health care, banking and manufacturing agrees.

When contemplating ANY type of corrective action, be thoughtful – ensure the corrective action you are contemplating is appropriate in relation to the employee’s knowledge of expected behavior and performance, company policies, applicable laws/regulations (i.e. any “protected activity”), and in accordance with company precedence for similarly situated employees. By following this evaluation step, you allow yourself the opportunity to evaluate the issue on its own merits – how would you handle it were you NOT thinking about the possibility of a complaint? I often maintain a written outline (word doc) of my decision points when contemplating a corrective action, which has proven to be very helpful when, months later, I need to recall how I moved from “Employee A’s Action” to “Decision to Discipline.

So while we can calm the fears of our employees and offer advice to managers, the real key is creating a workplace that nurtures trust and open conversation. Cali Williams Yost, CEO of Work+Life Fit. Inc. and author of “Work+Life: Finding the Fit That’s Right for You” suggests listening to your fear of retaliation and then testing it to make sure it’s based on fact. Ask yourself the following questions:

Have you seen your manager retaliate against a colleague for asking for more flexibility? If the answer is no, then discuss your plan with your manager. If the answer is yes, you did see retaliation, then ask yourself, what were the circumstances?

Was it retaliation or was there a legitimate question of performance that would make your manager hesitant to approve flexibility? If you think it was retaliation, then reconsider presenting your plan and start thinking about finding another job. If there were real problems with performance, then move forward to talk with your manager.

Cali offers some tips for presenting a plan that will get the most positive consideration over on her blog. Be sure to check it out here.

Being in a position to offer suggestions, feedback and constructive criticism is essential to your organization’s success. It’s important for companies to create a work environment that encourages open dialogue. Managers must feel confident in their roles by setting proper expectations and holding others accountable. Employees need to be encouraged to offer ideas and opinions that will make the organization a better place to work.

It’s time to move the retaliation conversation off the table, so the real work can begin.

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