Dominic Lallo guest commentator with HRm Online

November 10, 2014

LS Partners' Dominic Lallo has recently been a guest commentator in an article by AHRI's premium HR news site hrmonline.com.au.

Dominic teamed up with editor Georgina Jerums to create the article 'Accountability: Managing Bad Behaviour' which includes real-life examples and practical tips for executives to follow.

We've included an excerpt of the article below.

Accountability: Managing Bad Behaviour

Bullying and other unacceptable workplace behaviour is often conducted in a culture that needs fixing, says legal counsel Dominic Lallo.

Lallo has witnessed the good, the bad and the ugly of workplace behaviour management. Now senior legal counsel at LS Partners, he has more than 30 years of experience on both the plaintiffs’ and defendants’ side of the law.

“We’re commonly brought in as part of a reactive measure, when the proverbial ‘you know what’ hits the fan and we’re asked to investigate a workplace behaviour issue or conflict,” he says.

“These investigations sometimes reveal a systemic problem where all key personnel aren’t held accountable.”

That’s the tricky part. Accountability rarely succeeds if it doesn’t have the whole team’s support.

When a bullying complaint is received, the focus is on the parties to dispute and other employees who may be involved are usually not part of any review, says Lallo.

“But future workplace issues can be prevented only by including all personnel as part of a review process.”

Case study: workplace accountability

This real-life case study demonstrates how accountability can help put an organisation’s damaged culture back on track.

After a serious bullying complaint, an employer asked LS Partners to review its complaint handling process from start to finish. The following issues were noted:

All employees had a legal duty to prevent and guard against risks associated with unacceptable behaviour. Yet there was no review of their role and fulfilment of duties. They weren’t asked to account for their actions or, more precisely, their lack of action.

This critical step – making all personnel responsible and accountable – is often missing in the difficult task of prevention. But it’s a step that doesn’t go unnoticed by occupational health and safety/bullying inspectors who include the role and failures of relevant duty holders in their investigations. No-one is immune to personal prosecution.

In this case, the investigation was successful, so far as it prevented the respondent reoffending. However, it did little to bring about general prevention in a culture of significant bullying.

Real prevention can be achieved only if all employees pull together to fulfil their roles and responsibilities.

Steps to achieve cultural change:

A positive workplace behaviour environment is required to constructively manage bullying. Everyone must be involved in agreeing that inappropriate behaviour won’t be tolerated in the organisation and they need to be provided with the skills, procedures and knowledge to recognise inappropriate behaviour and deal with it.

How to create a positive workplace behaviour environment:

Gaining collective accountability may not be easy. But Lallo has seen the pay-off.

“From my experience, organisations that follow these steps and empower their personnel will effectively create and maintain a positive workplace behaviour environment.”