5 Ways to Improve Your Harassment Prevention Training

by Aug 7, 2018

Last week I was called into CNN’s studios to comment on the Les Moonves scandal. (Not gonna lie, it was pretty cool. The segment’s here on my LinkedIn profile if you want to peek at it.)

Right before my segment the anchors were talking about CBS’ culture issue. But they also kept talking about the investigation as if it was related to understanding the culture.

I don’t like this intertwinement of culture and investigations. (Is intertwinement even a word?) I’d hoped to help them see investigations are focused on proving if a behavior happened or didn’t, and what CBS needs once the investigation concludes is a culture assessment.

Investigations are about determining whether someone violated a policy or not. Someone claims hostile work environment, and the investigator decides whether the claims are valid based on the facts discovered in the investigation.

Whether the claims are valid or not has nothing to do with culture. Once the complaint is made, we know something is amiss, and now it’s important to understand the culture. That requires assessing the culture.

My point is that we are too darn focused on compliance when it comes to harassment. Why are we relying on investigations to understand culture?

Another example of this is our harassment prevention training.

Seriously, can we really even put “prevention” in the title? Harassment corrective action training is more like it.

Take this training course as an example, or this one, or any other one on an internet search. I don’t see any learning objectives focused on real, true prevention in any of them.

If you want to use that word prevention, then you’d need to include empathy, respect, assertiveness, and other behaviors that actually prevent harassment. Because last time I checked, manager training on how to take in a grievance isn’t a preventative measure.

What I want to know is why we are relying on lawmakers to dictate what belongs in a corporate training program. What do they know about the power of training in behavior change? Obviously nothing or we wouldn’t be here.

And that’s fine, it’s not their job to know. It’s ours. And we owe society something better than what we have now.

So here’s a crazy idea. Let’s use the ADDIE model, developed 30 years ago, and still widely used today. If you haven’t heard of it, ADDIE stands for Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, Evaluate.

ADDIE asks you to determine what behavioral outcomes you want as a result of the training. That simple question in the design process could change the course of harassment prevention training forever.

Here’s an example of how ADDIE might work, or five questions you should be asking and answering to improve your harassment prevention training:


Q. What behavioral outcomes do you want?

A. Behaviors that prevent harassment from happening… respect, empathy, emotions, awareness of implicit bias, and the ability to speak up.


Q. What are your learning objectives? What should people be able to do after the training is over?

A. Step in when bad behavior is witnessed, describe how harassment goes against the company core values, define personal accountability to a healthy work environment, speak in a respectful and positive tone, be self-aware of body language and words.


Q. What should the training look like if we are going to achieve the desired behavioral outcomes?

A. Handouts, articles, discussion points, exercises, assessments and role plays.


Q. How will the training unfold? Who will ensure we achieve behavioral outcomes?

A. Managers will hold before and after conversations, managers will be held accountable to positive survey scores, in order for role play to occur the training will be in person.


Q. How will you measure success? How will you measure business outcomes?

A. Complaints will decrease, turnover will decrease, productivity will increase, survey scores will improve

This is just a quick example of what the training design process would look like, if we were really and truly focused on CHANGE.

Step up, employers. It’s time for something better.

P.S. We don’t do harassment corrective action training like everybody else, but we do offer harassment prevention training if you’re interested. If you want to learn more about it you can view it here. Of course, we have one specifically for California too.

If you need an online resource, check out my harassment prevention course on LinkedIn Learning.

About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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