Does the pointy-head manager in the “Dilbert” comic strip by Scott Adams remind you of anyone?
A manager is the most important element in an employee’s performance, retention and engagement. There is no innate ability on how to handle the wide range of employee problems that managers may face, possibly on a daily basis.
There is no general skill set for becoming a manager and even the best potential leader may start out as only a so so manager. With proper training however, most managers can improve.
Training managers is important and a benefit to employees, the manager and the company. Working with another manager may be good for actual technical job functions but often not the best idea for management training. For example, if the experienced manager is not himself knowledgeable or a good trainer, it can quickly turn into a situation of a new manager learning bad habits and practices.
In some companies, it is not uncommon for only the top levels of management to receive special training in handling employee and legal related issues.
A common misconception is that management of a company does not need employee related training other than maybe safe work practices. Often the reason for not providing additional training is rationalized that there is no need because:
Our management already knows what they can and cannot do.
Training is too costly and time-consuming.
There is no return on investing the time and money.
We have excellent legal counsel to get us out of any type trouble.
The average cost of defending one lawsuit each year to summary judgment stage is considerably more than the cost of live training.
It is not unusual for the legal fees a company must pay to defend and resolve employee disputes to easily run into 5 and 6 figures. This does not include management and other employees time and sleepless nights or the actual settlement or judgement.
In situations where an employer has policies, but has not instituted any type of training for employees and management, courts have provided the plaintiff with huge punitive damage awards.
In harassment and discrimination cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that having policies and training can minimize damages, even when someone has violated the law. The court, however, went on to say that an employer has the obligation to educate its personnel about an individual’s rights and responsibilities under the law.
There are different perceptions about what sexual harassment is and this often varies by sex. For example, if a guy keeps asking a lady out and she tells him to “stop and leave me alone,” this is sexual harassment if the guy continues asking the lady out. Most guys are not aware they are breaking the law.
Everyone needs to understand not only the process, but also the reason things are done in a certain way. This applies to the technical part of the job and employee relations.
If an employee files a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and is successful in proving harassment and/or discrimination, the fines are based on the number of employees:
15-100 Employees – $50,000.00
101-200 Employees – $100,000.00
201-500 Employees – $200,000.00
501 or more Employees: $300,000.00
Companies should also consider, not only the legal cost of defending a case but the fact that the law provides that individual managers can be held liable as well as the company.
Workers that are well trained and informed are an asset to any company.
Since cases vary in detail, this should be considered as guidance, not legal advice. If you have a legal business issue, contact The Dean Legal Group at 702-823-1354 for an appointment.