Dignity at work: essential management skills

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Being treated with dignity and respect in the workplace is often what employees request the most. It should be simple and certainly go without saying. Many managers however, haven’t acquired the essential management skills they need to actually make this happen.

By: Alison Valente, L&D Consultant - HR and Legal specialist

 

Alison is responsible for working with clients to identify, design and deliver bespoke management development programmes, tailored to meet both their business and commercial requirements.  She delivers EEF’s open training programme covering all areas from recruitment through to ending the Employment Relationship. Alison works with companies of all sizes from SME’s to larger blue chip organisations. Her experience includes managing and representation at employment tribunals, assisting companies with union matters and general provision of HR and legal advice and guidance. Prior to joining EEF Alison had HR and training roles within the automotive, engineering and construction industries.

Aggressive, bullying and unpleasant work environments aren’t good for anyone.  Very few of us thrive when we’re being criticised in favour of being praised.  To many managers, it’s obvious, if you treat staff with dignity and respect you will get the most from them.  Others who have progressed into management positions without the required training don’t know that they’re being critical, even though their intentions are good.

Many managers rise to their positions without training and coaching to develop their knowledge, skills and competency in the handling of sensitive HR matters. Let’s take the handling of bullying and harassment in the workplace. Good training will equip managers with the knowledge to recognise the warning signs. It will also help them to nip inappropriate behaviour in the bud and to handle complaints sensitively.

10 steps to workplace dignity

1 – It goes with saying

Write a dignity and workplace respect policy for your organisation.  It might seem unnecessary to have to write down and tell people what constitutes your view of dignity, but it’s better than people coming up with their own view.  Define policies for harassment and consider a confidential reporting line for people who have a complaint.

2 – Publicise it

The policies need to form part of the induction process for new employees as well as being entrenched in the everyday workings of the business.  Reinforce the policy throughout your staff’s employment.  Create posters and leaflets that can be left for staff to read, pick up and take home.

3 – Take it seriously

Giving people a feeling of dignity means treating them with such – so when complaints arise, make sure they are treated sensitively and taken seriously.  Investigate complaints thoroughly and make sure that the complainant knows the outcome of the investigation.

4 – Live the values

Employees should feel that they can bring their complaints to you, so live the values of dignity and respect every day.  Foster an environment where people can raise concerns without fear of reprisals.

5 – Get great training

Managers who are effectively trained to understand the Equality Act and recognise discrimination in the workplace can deal more effectively with problems as they arise before they turn into something more serious.

6 – Keep things soft

Training isn’t just about knowing the rules and regulations – although they are large part of what managers need to know.  Make sure that your managers are trained on softer skills like communication and how to handle difficult situations sensitively and effectively.

7 – Set a framework

Your managers need to know their roles and responsibilities when it comes to recognising and addressing inappropriate behaviour.  Give them all the information they need.

8 – Nip it in the bud

Dealing with issues without delay is essential so that they don’t escalate. Provide managers with training to handle inappropriate behaviour at the earliest stage and to deal with complaints of bullying and harassment.

9 – Train everyone

Dealing with harassment is a task for everyone, not just managers.  Ensure that all staff are trained on what behaviours are and are not appropriate and ensure that they know how to escalate issues.

10 – Keep it current

Make sure that you update your policies regularly and keep the team informed of changes.  That way, everyone benefits from the latest version.

EEF’s popular Essential Management Skills training course will give managers all of the information that they need to develop dignity at work policies and manage complaints and grievances.  The 2 day course covers effective grievance handling; the Equality Act; communication skills; whistleblowing; recruitment and selection; performance management, including ending the employment relationship; discipline and absence management.  This course can be adapted to meet specific requirements, including company policies and procedures.

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