In the event of a harassing situation, are you prepared?
It was a Wednesday afternoon, an unusually cold and rainy day in August. As the day started to reveal its disposition the phone rang. It was my POS provider with our 2nd mediation call to a less-than-reputable software vendor that couldn’t deliver a product that was supposed to make my life easier. It so didn’t.
“Keep a cool head, Dmil, you won’t be able to think if you don’t,” I say to myself, as we end yet another unproductive conference call.
Many rainy minutes later, “Riiiinnngg.” my phone jumps off the hook again. It’s my operations manager.
“Do you have a minute to chat? We have a situation.”
You see, we have a girl that has written a note. It is about an employee that allegedly has been doing some inappropriate things. As I listen to the letter, my stomach drops and my brow tightens a bit, but I catch myself from going to that bad place known as reaction.
“Don’t go there,” I say to myself. “Not this time.”
I’ve been in this situation before, and this time I know I can handle it with confidence and professionalism.
I say to my operations manager, “I want you to schedule a meeting with her at 4 p.m. Be here 15 minutes before so we can review the letter, and I will show you how we work through a situation like this.”
I proceeded to print out the forms that I created two years before to help automate this process.
You see, the first time around I panicked and called my coach and restaurant expert David Scott Peters. As I explained the situation he said to me, “Have you looked at the sexual harassment prevention training product I created?”
Hmmm, as I glance up at my jam-packed bookshelf I see Running a Profitable Restaurant: from Soup to Nuts, Breakeven Point Calculator, Think and Grow Rich, and aahhh, there it was.
“You mean that thing that says I CAN BE SUED FOR THAT?,” I ask, somewhat sheepishly.
“DUDE!” he exclaims. “YES! Open it up, listen to it and call me tomorrow.”
That tool was extremely helpful in making sure I managed the complaint the right way, following the right legal protocols, while also handling my employee’s claims with sympathy and compassion. As that meeting ended, we all had a feeling of closure and accomplishment.
This time around, it went even better because I was prepared before the incident, not during. In the face of a potential crisis we were able to act quickly and accurately.
In the words of David Scott Peters, “Sexual harassment in the workplace is not a matter of, if, but rather a matter of when.”
Don’t wait for something to happen to you. Train your employees about preventing it in the first place and then what to do if it happens.
David Militello is a multi-unit, multi-concept restaurant owner based in Southaven, Mich., www.lakeshoredining.com. Dave is a man of opportunity and music. If he wasn’t a restaurant owner, he’d probably be playing drums in a band touring the world. Dave is a part of the restaurant expert David Scott Peters’ coaching team. He offers expertise in managing multiple locations, catering, employee development and systems implementation.