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As employers kick-off 2019, many have an eye toward compliance. The potential cost for poor management decisions has never been greater in the US.  When lining-up robust training for supervisors and managers–particularly related to matters of compliance and workplace civility–remember that not all trainings are created equally.

Beyond the basic discussions of unlawful harassment and discrimination, here are some other items to look for when considering manager training for your leaders.

Go Beyond the Protected Classes
Focusing on examples of unlawful harassment, discrimination, and bullying that are clearly based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender, or another specifically named protected class is Compliance 101—every manager training covers this. The training you’re considering must also discuss the tentacles of these protected characteristics and bake these tentacles into scenarios and exercises. For example, education, socio-economic circumstances, family status, and life experience are just a few examples of characteristics that have been found to be rooted in one or more of the protected categories, but are not specifically named in Title VII or other anti-discrimination laws. The training’s content and exercises need to incorporate tentacles of the protected characteristics.

Review Newer Concepts
Sexual orientation, gender identity, and bullying are just a few of the recent additions to the list of protected characteristics or prohibited behaviors. Effective manager trainings address these contemporary topics thoroughly, as these newer additions represent areas where your leaders genuinely have questions. Is sexual orientation now a protected category? How might unlawful discrimination based on gender identity occur? Is gender expression a protected category in your area? Does the training address the pitfalls of gender equality related to salary negotiation? What about discussing criminal history while incorporating the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s sliding scales? …And the list of recent evolutions in manager training content goes on.  Ensure the content is current and relevant.

Mention Familiar Names—Keep It Real
Manager trainings focused on civility must be interesting. An engaged audience is an audience absorbing the content. Engaging trainings mention companies that are household names, citing recent examples of managers with these firms performing their role well as well as engaging in alleged misconduct. Suddenly, the training becomes more real when the participants realize a handful of their favorite companies were caught-up in civility-related litigation in 2018.

Thoroughly Discuss the Duty to Act
This is a core part of adequately training leaders and must be nuanced with a number of different scenarios. Further, the training should discuss the cost of leaders failing to perform their duty to act—both the potential professional consequence as well as the personal liability. This one’s a must!

A Focus on Social Media, Not Dated, Painfully Awkward Videos
Social media is the area of profound liability related to workplace civility today. The days of manager trainings including awkward videos with obviously horrible scenarios are over. It’s likely that these videos cover content your leaders already understand—that’s why they disengage when the video comes on. Instead, the training should provide scenarios based on modern work environments, covering social media posts, text messaging, and IMs. Helping leaders know when to—and how to—interact with employees over IM, text, and social media is incredibly important.

Talent Selection—Not Just Talent Management—Must Be Addressed
Manager training is not complete without a discussion of talent selection, the biases inherent in selecting talent, and the best practices related to interviewing and probing. After all, talent selection is an aspect of talent management. Manager training must help leaders apply workplace civility concepts to talent selection, regardless of whether the leaders are actually hiring managers or simply recommending employees for promotional opportunities or high-profile projects.

Always Preview the Materials and Content
Perhaps most importantly, always take a look at the materials before you line-up the training. Make sure the training covers the content in an appropriate, meaningful way given the dynamics and culture of your leaders. Depending on the training provider, the content can usually be adjusted to reflect the specific language of the organization, relevant policy language, etc. A good company will adapt this content for your training. Depending on your locality, the training may need to be adapted to reflect local laws regarding compliant manager trainings.

FinePoint HR provides human resources consulting (including manager training and development) to clients throughout the US and Asia. Let us know if we can help you with your training and development needs.