Thinking Out Loud: Hiring a Positive Work Environment
I've written earlier about the mistake of addressing a team problem with an individual solution.
The more I see of various employee problems - and I've seen plenty - the more evident it is that one of the major flaws in the workplace revolves around just what a hiring decision contains.
Is an employer simply hiring a person? No. In most cases, the employer is hiring the person and a series of relationships. If the individual performance is fine but the individual is unable to establish and maintain positive working relationships with other employees, then, just as we do with "no fault" divorce, we should consider that no judgment need be made about the parties in order to conclude that the relationship doesn't work.
Rather than adopting that approach, employers (and employees) seek to ascribe individual blame. This effort consumes a sizable amount of time and effort and often exacerbates an already bad relationship.
Attorneys may rightly say that the law protects individuals against harassment and other wrongs. Employers, however, may prevent such problems early on by creating a version of the concept of a hostile work environment. In other words, it would be made clear to employees and to new hires that their ability to foster and maintain a positive work environment will be evaluated. Rather than falling into a blame game where each side may argue that it is less guilty than the other, management will provide an incentive for all parties to work things out, for if it concludes that the relationship is negative, then the relationship must change. That may involve transfer or termination.
This does not mean that a person who has been harassed would be treated the same as the harasser. There are "single situation" harassment cases, but harassment often involves a pattern of smaller actions. An alert employer would act before the behavior reaches the level of harassment and either conclude that one party is at fault or the relationship is faulty and needs correction.
And that may be the most vulnerable point in implementing a positive work environment. Far too many supervisors and managers do not know what is going on in their workplace.