Can Emotional Intelligence Help Your Company with Risk Management?By: Susan Dunn
According to jury behavior studies, yes. Jurors (who are usually also employees) expect emotionally intelligent behavior from companies.
Jurors care how you respond to sexual harassment complaints, but they’re more interested in how the event occurred in the first place. What they want to know is – did you care before? Did you educate staff and establish policies and procedures discouraging discrimination, for instance? (Gallipeau, Dan R., Jurors' Views of Sexual Harassment, New York Employment Law Practice, 2001). You show what kind of company you are by how you act.
“Jurors want you to do the right thing – promptly, consistently, thoroughly and fairly,” says Joni Johnston, Psy. D., consultant and employment litigation expert witness. They consider a previous allegation, even from years before, should have put you on notice. If you ignored it, and it comes up again, it’s indicates your “tendencies.” Jurors consider even casual remarks at company picnics to be “notice,” so listen up, and take action if you hear something.
Jurors don’t like it when the victim is suddenly on trial. Trial Advice: Don’t build your case by attacking the plaintiff. Office Advice: Don’t turn on your employee for reporting an incident.
If you have a policy that someone violates it, did you mean it? If so, punish them.
And jurors are infuriated when someone with rank gets off the hook. Need some parameters? 94% of polled jurors felt that a company should terminate a supervisor who physically touches an employee in a sexual manner. 83% of polled jurors feel that executives don’t get disciplined severely enough.
Honest, Open Dialogue
Employees reality-test well, and they believe one another, why don’t you?
72% of polled jurors believe sexual harassment at work is less blatant nowadays, but it still happens. 75% of jurors, both male and female, believe a woman who says she’s been sexually harassed at work. Only 22% think it’s suspicious when a woman waits several months to report sexual harassment.
Johnston recommends employers “broaden their focus from legally defensible policies and procedures to a practical focus on building a respectful work culture, providing multiple channels of reporting, and teaching their managers sound interpersonal skills.” That is to say – emotional intelligence.
Stress Management & EQ
At the end of the trial, when it’s time to make damage judgments, jurors tend to abdicate responsibility. When your manager’s stressed and an employee reports an incident, does your manager abdicate? “Levels of emotional arousal make a difference,” says Johnston. “Managers who are overworked or under trained are most likely to make errors in judgment when handling offensive behavior complaints.”
“Employers who take steps to train their managers in the interpersonal skills needed to be effective managers are likely to have less lawsuits – and to win the ones they do,” says Johnston.
Establish a culture of emotional intelligence in your organization and you can expect positive results.
© copyright, Susan Dunn, 2003
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