March 6, 2018 Jen Farthing

Trust is at an all-time low. Gradations of fear and confusion are distracting us—at the workplace, in our government, in our schools, and at home. At LRN, we’re seeing an uptick in calls for learning in two areas: privacy and sexual harassment.

Last week, Marsha Ershaghi Hames and I led a roundtable of listening and learning on sexual harassment. About two dozen compliance practitioners from high tech firms across Silicon Valley joined to explore best practices, unpack trends, and discuss ways to drive greater impact. We asked the participants how this uncomfortable conversation around sexual harassment and the intrinsic abuse of power is playing out at their workplaces – what are you seeing, what are your biggest concerns, and how are you responding. While that’s a tall order to discuss over salads and sandwiches, we delved into a couple themes: WHY BOTHER? and HOW DO WE ADDRESS COMPLICITY.

WHY BOTHER. How do we respond to the sinking feeling that even if I report it, they won’t take action. How do we combat a sentiment of futility? We’re a small department. How do we give it our all? We hear you.

We show how we ARE taking action.

From the group, we learned that spotlighting greater transparency around procedural justice really matters.  Many participants shared that they are using communications channels effectively to amplify sanitized “real stories.” In these internal blogs, they are asking the workforce, “what should have happened?, how could we have behaved differently?” Some pointed out that their internal tracking reveals that these blogs and newsletters are getting the highest traffic, open rates, and longer viewing sessions than other internal communications. Best of all, it’s free, user-generated content.

We heard that these actions are just scratching the surface. Perhaps. We heard that taking action can bump up against privacy concerns. That’s a real concern. We struggle with containment during investigation. We are sensitive to controlling gossip and keeping safe those who do find the courage to speak up.

So how can we go deeper?

Another prominent theme was normalized COMPLICITY as we make remedy for decades of turning a blind eye to high performers that are aggressors, or chiefs that “abuse power.”  Two themes emerged, one was the need to elevate key influencers to shepherd the workforce culture and enable values on the ground. The second was to enact greater enforcement and accountability by recalibrating performance management processes. We probed the audience to come up with the most influential person to bring awareness. Many shared that it is not always the CEO. It may be regional leadership, shift managers, or team leaders with regional sensitivity. In this tactic, we advise to empower and make ready your middle managers. Some revealed how hard this approach can be, and not because they don’t trust them. It can be a tough ask to extend the role. Sometimes skills are lacking. But what we all concluded is that in today’s workplace, being a leader is so much more than focuses on profits, its demonstrating a moral compass and building a safe and healthy workplace culture.  Leaders need training and practice in Active Listening. They need to enlist and engage their teams in Difficult Conversations and take them head on.

LRN has tools for active listening and handling difficult conversations for supervisors at all levels. We recommend a holistic approach to learning – not a one and done, not just the 20-minute training. Make a learning sandwich: Talk about it before AND after learning. Deploy an infographic that they can take away. There’s more coming soon. Stay tuned. Talk to your LRN representative about it. or contact us directly today.

About the Author

Jen Farthing

Chief Learning Officer at LRN

More Content by Jen Farthing
Previous Post
Taking Ethical Leadership Beyond the Basics
Taking Ethical Leadership Beyond the Basics

  Authors: Mike Eichenwald and Jan Stanley Stop by most compliance conferences these days and you’ll likely...

Next Post
How the #METOO Movement has shed light on the need for difficult conversations–LRN Podcast with Tom Fox
How the #METOO Movement has shed light on the need for difficult conversations–LRN Podcast with Tom Fox

The #METOO movement has surfaced a national conversation around sexual harassment and misconduct in the wor...