August '18

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90 • RV PRO • August 2018 rv-pro.com B U S I N E S S suspicion." I can see several things to take away from that story. 1. Even if you aren't guilty, you can still be in serious trouble. 2. Even the rumor can have an effect on reputation. 3. A tarnished reputation can affect your future employment. 4. Damage also can have serious financial impact. What can the manager or employee do to avoid getting into trouble? We have a couple of recent exam- ples. Vice President Mike Pence took a bit of heat recently for saying he would not dine alone with a woman who is not his wife. Regardless of your politics, he is right to avoid any situation where his intent or involvement might be mis- understood. That includes not having dinner for "just two." The Rev. Billy Graham had a clear set of rules that he and his management team adhered to that were likely the basis for Pence's thinking on the subject. That level of proactive reputation protection was not simply a matter of being too cautious. It has been documented that Graham once had someone enter his hotel room prior to his arrival. It happened that on this occasion a partially dressed woman and a photographer were already in the room, ready to capture the moment. Set- ting someone up in a compromising sit- uation was something Graham and his team proactively avoided. Likewise, there are concrete steps you can take as a business owner to see that you are not brought to a personal understanding of this problem by one of your employees. Talk & Train First, talk with your employees – especially talk with the managers. Make sure they understand what to say, to do and what to avoid. Be certain they know where you as the business owner stand. Tell all employees about the steps for reporting an unacceptable situation. Let them know those will not be tolerated. Another point worth mentioning is the existence of clear guidelines. For example, can employees date? What should happen if one worker makes another feel uncomfortable? Are your managers trained in how to avoid, recognize and process any com- plaints of inappropriate behavior? Does the employee manual outline those pol- icies? Do you have documentation that the employees have been briefed on the company policy? Having those policies clearly explained to all employees goes a long way to pro- tecting the company. Not having them can be a dangerous place to be. Often It's About 'Power' By the time someone becomes a manager you could hope they have demonstrated ability to direct efforts of those reporting to them in a professional manner. However, sometimes that new- found power becomes a hammer they must learn to wield. Most cases of workplace harassment involve both a level of power that one person has over another and the making of unwanted advances. That can easily cross the line. It doesn't always come from a man- ager. One of my daughters spoke about a clerk in the mailroom where she worked who started making sugges- tions that there might be some inter- action. It was unwanted. And it was promptly reported. Personally, I've seen cases where techs have let the hormones get out of control. Worse yet, I've seen it happen between a tech and a customer. Not All Allegation Are True Importantly, just because someone alleges an offense doesn't always mean it's true. I recall one instance where a warranty clerk sued for "hostile workplace." The clerk's office was in the service admin area, where conversations with techs could be routinely overheard. That design in a dealership can be beneficial, as the peripheral conversations help to keep everyone engaged in an active and ongoing discussion regarding repair issues and other typical challenges faced by all RV shops. The advantage is widened awareness of the status and concerns in service processes. In this case, this clerk had, for a period of a couple years, participated in off-color banter with the techs as they conducted a dialog between themselves and with the manager and the clerk. At some point, the clerk took exception and engaged an attorney who provided coaching on how to document some of these events. That led to a lawsuit that was settled out of court by the insurance company. In the case of this clerk, who was wrong? Who stepped over the line? It's really hard for me to sort out a clear line. But then, isn't that the point? Not All Incidents Are Reported At the same time, I shudder to think about the many times when young women have tolerated unwanted and disrespectful attention from coworkers. Obviously, there has been a culture in the past that discouraged reporting of incidents such as these. The likely effect was to embolden those who were more It has been the common experience of many women to endure some sort of 'yuck' in the workplace. It seems that has recently changed. " "

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