(Who is Steven? Steven – Human Resources Professional seeking Senior Human Resources Generalist role)
Terry: Let’s talk about another situation. What would you do if you were called in by an associate with a claim of sexual harassment?
Steven: In that case, we would conduct an investigation. We would have to explain to that person that once we are aware it’s going to be kept as confidential as possible but we do have to follow up.
Like anything, confidentiality is not – the parties involved will be aware of it but we will explain about retaliation, about if you do feel that there is any kind of retaliation you come to us, but we want to get the whole story, we want to conduct a thorough investigation.
It is amazing how the initial story can be completely different than the pieces we put together at the end of it. You want to make sure your investigation is thorough.
You want to interview all the parties involved and really piece together what is actually happening there. Once you do that you follow up. You do the correct disciplinary actions.
Terry: Were you ever in a situation where you personally had experience with that?
Steven: Yes. It was harassment, it wasn’t of a sexual nature where you had to get those issues out there but it was a harassing situation.
It turns out that this was taking place, we had to sit the manager down and we actually had to go through a termination with the manager. That creates an awkward situation for all parties involved so you just want to make sure you have that open door policy where the employees can come to you with these issues and you go from there.
Terry: We have a couple of minutes here; I’d be interested in you taking me through that specific situation in terms of what was your role and your actions in terms of that?
Tell me certainly, not the specifics of what occurred, but what your actions were in regards to being notified, resolving and then adjusting the situation?
Steven: What we had was an integrity hotline, that’s how the situation was addressed. The employee called the integrity hotline it was within one of the communities that was within my region, so that was forwarded to me.
There was a claim, and it really boiled down to harassing unfavorable treatment. There really was a mentality of kind of management versus front-end staff, us versus them.
This was coming from the associate, from the employee, so I wanted to get everybody involved with this. What we ended up doing was I went out there to talk to all the employees and they did not know that this issue was there, but I didn’t want to single this person out.
It was basically just a general climate survey that we do from time to time. I didn’t want to alert management of something hey, this is going on, but I wanted to get the general feel for what was going on there.
What I discovered was that they really did have an us versus them with management and this particular person, she was put in the middle of that because she worked directly with the front line staff in the evenings but she was on the management team.
The executive director was really putting her between a rock and a hard place, telling her to do things she didn’t feel comfortable with, not treating her as though she was part of the management staff and belittling her.
We did get some collaboration on this. After I did this and talked to everyone involved, I sat the manager down and got his take on it. I let him know what was going on, he – as people tend to do– became defensive, but once we were able to work that out it was a decision that we came to mutually. This wasn’t the right place for him.
At that meeting, when I’m sitting down with the manager, people tend to terminate themselves. Were we able to work that out and recognize the issue it may have had a different outcome but it was plain at that time that was not going to happen so that was the outcome in that particular situation.
Terry: I’m sorry, so what became plain wasn’t going to happen is that they were going to terminate themselves?
Steven: No, it became plain that they couldn’t continue their employment there. It could’ve been at that meeting that if we were able to work that out, if they were able to recognize the problem and I was able to coach them through that management issue, that they would’ve been able to continue their employment.
There might’ve been some corrective action involved but we would’ve been able to work with them.
From that meeting it was clear that was not going to happen, that the mutual decision came to a termination.
Here’s how I would rate this answer . . .
Q8. What would you do if . . . – STEVEN QUICK RATING – D
Could put into story format even though “what if” scenario. Take more active, I would do, this, this, this instead of “you.” Suggest more work on this answer.