KGA was hired by a $2 billion insurance company to help with a continuing problem in its call center. The staff in the call center was predominantly female, with most employees joining the company directly after high school. The culture had taken on characteristics of a high school environment, and the supervisors in the call center were frustrated by what they described as "childish behavior." They reported that much of their time was spent breaking up arguments and intervening when "cliques" excluded or harassed someone. Someone was always in tears. The environment was rampant with counterproductive behavior that interfered with the day-to-day work.
After meeting with the supervisors, KGA conducted interviews with a sampling of employees within the call center. While there were no complaints of sexual harassment, there were many serious issues brewing around insensitivity, favoritism, horseplay, and bullying. It was recommended that every person in the group go through a customized training session that focused on reinforcing professional behavior, eliminating counterproductive behavior, and preventing harassment. During the training, the company also requested that participants be updated on the company's sexual harassment policy, which would put the company in compliance with state recommendations for harassment prevention training every two years. The final program design was approved by senior management and human resources and included a 90-minute session for employees and a 3-hour program for managers and supervisors.
The training intervention proved to be a relief to many of the participants. Some of the members of the group had been thoroughly offended by the behavior or their peers, but were afraid to speak up. They feared that they would become the target of the jokes and teasing if they brought up their concerns. Because of the focus on assertiveness and communication skills in the training, complaints did come forward and seemed to focus on two individuals. Both were reprimanded, and one was subsequently terminated. The atmosphere in the group changed dramatically, and the job of the supervisors improved. The supervisors also reported noticeable improvements in productivity.
KGA was retained by a $100M technology company to help with the design of sexual harassment training. A compliance issue motivated this client to hire KGA, since the organization had not done harassment training for two years. In general, the human resources department was not concerned about the quid pro quo type of harassment within this fairly young environment. They did, however, have three concerns. The first was that some of their managers had been though sexual harassment programs multiple times, and they knew that the managers were bored with the standard curricula. The second concern was about issues that centered on after-work partying among co-workers. It seemed that for many of the young employees, work provided the bulk of their social life as well as their livelihood. Their chief concern, however, was that KGA might negatively impact the (upbeat) culture of the company by coming on too strong about harassment prevention.
KGA introduced Sensitivity Awareness-LIVE! to this organization. During the initial discussion with the learning and development manager, KGA became familiar with the culture and what types of issues had come up. There was clearly confusion about harassment that may occur at work versus outside in a non-work setting. No one seemed quite clear about where the line should be drawn. (The HR department had recently faced an assault case that originated at a nearby bar where employees frequently gathered after work.) It seemed that Sensitivity Awareness-LIVE! was a particularly good fit with this culture. The training was delivered in a format that included a seasoned trainer and two (male and female) improvisational actors. Participants were made aware of sensitive issues while enjoying the upbeat presentation style. Managers who had gone through previous training did not find it redundant. The messages were relevant to the company and delivered in a fun and interactive format.
Reviews for the training were all above 4.5 on a one to five point scale. Employees talked about the training for many weeks afterward, and there was no damage to the culture. In fact, the learning and development manager felt that the training improved the culture by making it more open.
One of the account managers at KGA received a call from her main HR contact requesting a referral to a public training program on sexual harassment. The account manager gathered information about the situation and found that it involved a senior manager who was accused of sexual harassment. The company attorneys had recommended that sending this individual to a class would help reduce liability if the situation went to court.
The KGA account manager explained that there are virtually no public programs for sexual harassment offenders. She suggested consideration of KGA's two coaching programs for people accused of harassment; one for executives and managers, and an abbreviated version for employees. The client chose the longer version for this executive, and a customized coaching/training agenda was designed by one of the KGA diversity experts. Since the 15-hour curriculum could be customized, there were several management style issues and leadership concerns that could be addressed during the coaching. (This executive occasionally lost his temper and slammed doors. He also sometimes ignored people who were not at his level.) The program began immediately with an interview with the CEO and referring HR person. KGA learned that the executive, aside from his inappropriate behavior, was a very talented individual, whom the company valued and wanted to retain.
When the coaching was complete, a follow-up interview was conducted with the CEO, since he was the manager of this executive. He felt that the executive really "got it" and had shown some improvement in his leadership style. The CEO approved a request for some additional leadership coaching, and they agreed to continue for another 3-month period.