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HR 101 – What to do when . . . Manager’s Abuse Their Staff

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Please note that this pertains to South African Labour Relations, Basic Conditions of Employment Act and Best Practice requirements.

Sexual harassment is not the only “harassment’” that occurs in the workplace. There are many bosses out there who are nothing more than bullies or predators and who use the power of their positions to manipulate and intimidate staff, in order to feed their own inadequacies or fantasies.

For those who do that, and you know who you are – be warned, you can and will, more often than not, pay dearly for your transgressions. If and when an employee resigns because of the behaviour of the employer/manager/supervisor, there is a consequence. The term for this type of resignation is known as a “Constructive Dismissal” and believe me when I tell you that this is viewed in a very serious light by the CCMA.

Constructive dismissal is built around the fact that (as it is phrased in UK laws) “An employer must not, without reasonable or proper cause, conduct himself in a manner calculated or likely to destroy or seriously damage the relationship of trust and confidence between the employer and the employee”.

Managers/supervisors/employer’s who consistently harass staff on a psychological or emotional level may push their staff into resigning and this could result in the CCMA getting involved.

Here are some tips on how to avoid the perception of harassment.

– If the employer has a problem with a staff member’s performance, clearly it is in the best interests of the business for the issue of lack of and poor performance to be resolved. When criticizing a staff member’s performance it is a good idea, not only to tell them what they are doing wrong, but also give them suggestions, and if necessary the tools with which to improve themselves. Ultimately this will benefit the business too.
– Be consistent and make sure that you follow the precedents that have already been set. Be sure to treat all the staff in the same manner. If you discipline one staff member for an infraction, any other staff member that has a similar or the same infraction against them must face the same disciplinary action and the same result. Run a ‘tight ship’ by all means, but make sure that you are always fair.
– The level of performance that you expect from one employee, must be the same level of performance that you expect from all of your staff.
– Never humiliate staff members, especially in front of other staff members. Treat your staff with dignity and respect. Be sensitive to their culture and religion. You can get your point across without having to resort to disparaging remarks.
– Managers/supervisors/employers need to understand that psychological or emotional harassment of staff is not acceptable and that training managers/supervisors/employers in the correct manner of dealing with staff are an investment in the business.

Handling staff correctly will result in greater productivity, which will result in greater profitability.

A happy workforce with a healthy relationship between management and staff usually results in a successful business.